Today I leave the town of Winneba to travel to the Challenging Heights Rehabilitation Shelter to officially start my internship. The shelter was built four years ago and established by the Hovde Foundation. It is the place where the kids come to heal physically and emotionally after being rescued from their traffickers.

Having visited the shelter during orientation, I know that being there will be challenging. For many of the children living there, the marks of their abuse remains on their skin and in their expressions. I will be leading activities that I hope will help them to express some of their feelings and build self confidence through art and other mediums. Still, how far can that go in relieving the memories of immense torture they have experienced? I am entering my role there as a play leader/teaching assistant knowing that there is only so much I can do.

Although I had mixed feelings about the length and content of the orientation, I believe that overall it has prepared me more for the internship than I would have been otherwise. Above all, I think that better knowing and understanding the extensive work Challenging Heights does will help me in caring for the kids. These kids are not broken or irreparably harmed. They are in the middle of their path to a full and happy life.

Still, I know that I will have large difficulty dealing with the knowledge that these kids will be returning to poverty after their stay at the shelter. Will Challenging Heights monitor them, help their families, and pay for 1 year of education? Yes. The fact remains; however, that many of these kids may remain in the cycle of poverty their whole lives. Challenging Heights has even had to intervene once or twice when families have tried to re-traffic their children.

My posts so far have been fun and rather hilarious. I have to say that from this post on, they will be taking on a much more serious tone. While I am sure there will be stories of fun with the kids, a lot of them will deal with much more serious issues such as the evident harm time on the lake caused these kids and the challenges that come along with working in the shelter environment.

I hope that you keep reading. The is an important issue and I welcome any and all questions about my time at the shelter.

***Note: Given the sensitivity of the population and the need for confidentiality, most names in the blogs will be changed and there will be no photos.