*Caution for parents – this story contains references to physical abuse. If your children are young, you might want to read it over first before sharing it with your children and decide which elements of Evodie’s story you would like to read to them.
How old do you think the gal in this picture is? Maybe 5? 8? 10? Actually, Evodie is a 15-year-old girl from the Central African Republic (CAR). The CAR is located in Africa. There are many orphans living with other families in the CAR because of many health problems such as malaria, worms, malnutrition and a lack of care of the children. Evodie’s story is one similar to many children living in the CAR.
Although Evodie is 15 years‐old, she is very small. Her size is like that of a typical 5 year old living in the United States. The staff at VisionTrust believe she is so small because of malnutrition. Her father is not in her life at all. By the time she began attending the VisionTrust program he was already out of the picture. Evodie’s mother had some unknown health issues and possible mental challenges as well for most of Evodie’s childhood. Unfortunately, her mother died and so she was left with her grandmother. While most children would enjoy living with a grandparent, this was not the case for Evodie. Evodie’s grandmother was very unkind and abusive to her.
Evodie’s home life was very difficult living in a three room dirt building with dirt floors. There was only one bed in the home, which had springs with some sort of material covering them. The kitchen was outside and had walls that would wash away in the rain. The family cooked over an open fire, and water was retrieved from dropping a bucket into a well. In her home, there was no running water and no bathrooms. Evodie’s room was about 3 foot by 3 foot and had a mat on the dirt. She had no clothing or belongings in her room that was smaller than most closets.
Because of Evodie’s situation with abuse, her opportunities were very limited. She was not allowed to attend school, her home conditions were poor and she was emotionally withdrawn. The VisionTrust staff began to have contact with her. As she began to trust them, she would share more with them, and they would try to intervene to protect her. She began to understand that there were those that did care for her and she would hear about the love of God at the weekly meetings.
Evodie would be given rice from the program she attended and take it home to share with the family. Some neighbors told the VisionTrust staff that the rice would be cooked but that Evodie would not be allowed to eat it. In fact, her grandmother beat her one time for allowing a neighbor to feed her. Evodie’s situation grew worse. One time her grandmother beat her severely and she ran away. She was on the streets for a few weeks trying to survive and eventually the VisionTrust staff was able to connect with her. She was taken into a local boarding school that normally served only young children but because she was so small and at the urging of the VisionTrust staff she was able to stay at the school. At this location she was able to begin school for the first time. The VisionTrust staff checks on her and helps her by giving her sponsorship donations to this school. The staff has noticed that she now smiles and is beginning to talk more. She is beginning to be healthier both physically and emotionally. We are thankful that God provided a safe place for Evodie to live, that she has food to nourish her, that she can now attend school and that she has many people in her life that care for her and pray for her.
Questions for Discussion:
- We all know what it is like to be hungry at times. How do you feel when you go a long time without eating?
- Have you ever had to go an entire day without eating?
- Do you ever complain about the meals your family provides for you?
- How does Evodie’s story make you appreciate the basic needs you have provided for you daily (food, water, clothes, a bed, etc)?
- Evodie was “withdrawn” which means that she kept to herself and didn’t share much with others. Have you ever felt this way when you were scared or worried? Who do you turn to when you feel this way?
- How can you reach out to those around you when you see they are hurting in some way? Pray and ask God to show you those around you that you can be a friend to.
Fun Facts about the CAR:
The Central African Republic is slightly smaller than the state of Texas in size.
- Pray that God will continue to heal Evodie both physically and emotionally.
- Pray for Evodie to continue to learn both the academics that she will need as an adult and how deep God’s love is for her.
Ways that you can get involved:
Evodie had no clothing or belongings in her small room. Are there things in your room that you no longer need or use that you could give to someone who could use them? Look into local programs that provide for the physical needs of children and share God’s love with them and see if you can donate some of your things.
“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows-¬this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”