JULIETA had worked for many years as an elementary school teacher in San Isidero Elementary School. Like most teachers she would be irritated at inattentive and distracted students. The low grades and failure of the student to do homework assignments and be able to share in class was notable in Andrea, a 13 year old who was previously close to the top of her class but by August 14, 2014 her change for the worst was remarkable. Andrea was strangely silent and showed embarrassment when asked about her failing grades.
It was only after Julieta had participated in the Preda Foundation training seminar about the effect of child abuse and human trafficking on the child victims did she begin to reevaluate her students and Andrea in particular. She showed the signs and symptoms as described in the Preda seminar and what she had observed herself in Andrea but she did not understand and interpret correctly.
The following week she followed the advice of the Preda instructor on how to approach a child with the signs of serious emotional and family problems. Using the excuse of checking her homework she asked her to stay behind after class and while going over the lesson, she asked, “Andrea, is there some problem at home with your parents”?
Andrea was suddenly tense and moved away from Julieta and would not utter a word.
Julieta said, “If you have any problem, you can tell me, trust me, I will help you. I know where you can get away from a difficult situation and be safe and looked after if any thing bad happened to you at home.”
“Yes there is, “ Andrea finally replied, and sitting beside Julieta she opened up in response to the friendly supportive and understanding teacher who behaved toward the child just as she had been trained to do in the seminar on the rights of the child and how to help a victim of abuse. Her motherly instinct and her Christian values gave her the wisdom to listen with concern.
“It began last August,” Andrea said,”I remember it well it was a Saturday. I was at home and my mama was at the market buying the food for our meals. That was when my stepfather came into my little bedroom. It’s so small. I was doing an assignment for school; my room is just big enough for a single bed. He lay on me and began to molest my private parts…’I shouted, don’t, don’t, I don’t like it.’ He then went out.
“Then last October, he came again, when nobody was in the house. I smelled alcohol on his breath, and he tried to take off my blouse and panties. I tried to get away from under him but he was too big. This happened five times, I was crying after every act and one day he took off his trousers and forced himself on me that time I was so shocked and angry that I pushed him to the side and ran out. I was afraid to tell my mama. She depends on papa for the money and food. She would not believe me and would surely be angry. She wouldn’t understand.”
Julieta said. “Do you want get out of the house, go and rest in a beautiful quite place away from the problem and that man?”
“Oh yes, please help me, Teacher, I can’t live with it any longer. Thank you for listening to me and understanding and believing it really happened,” Andrea said.
Julieta was happy that she finally understood her student’s problem and could take action. During the Preda Seminar she had been given a hot line call card. She sent a text call to the number asking Preda foundation staff to help.
Within minutes, she had an answer. She got advice on what to do to prepare the child and advised the child how to protect herself until she could be helped to come to the Preda home for girls. After a few days everything was ready for her rescue. The Preda social worker with the Preda vehicle went to the police station where by prearrangement the municipal social worker and police where waiting.
The teacher had arranged that Andrea would be at school and the social workers, teacher and child had a meeting in the principal’s office. The police remained in the van. Happily, there was no need for them. If the mother or stepfather had come to prevent Andrea from going to the Preda Girls home the police would intervene. As it happened Andrea was happy to go with the Preda social workers to Preda right away.
And so she did and today she is happy and going to school with safety and having emotional release, therapy pouring out all her anguish and pain. She is healing within and has a great chance to recover and eventually when more empowered and stronger will file a criminal charge against her abusing stepfather.
One day justice will be done, more teachers like Juliet will have a high level of awareness and counseling skills and more children will be protected and healed.
Students and teachers may contact Preda Foundation Facebook and apply for training and internship.