The Safe House: An Enclave of Peace and Hope

Jun 11, 2012

The Power of Recovery: Candide's Story

Residents of the Safe House relaxing.
Residents of the Safe House relaxing.

Recently, we received a written testament to the power of Heshima Kenya from a young woman who moved through our program and is now resettled in the U.S.

Candide’s background is one of many struggles – filled with war and loss. She was born in 1992 and lost her entire family to the genocide in Burundi at only 10 months old. She was moved to a refugee camp, where she remained for 6 years of her life until she was able to move in with a foster family. Candide was forced to leave this home when she found her life was in danger and moved around from country to country seeking shelter, safety, and any distant relatives that may have remained. She entered Kenya by bus, all alone with nowhere to go, until she was referred to Heshima Kenya.

When Candide arrived, she was tired and her spirit was broken, however she was welcomed into the Heshima Kenya Safe House with open arms; Candide felt the staff and residents of the Safe House were truly happy to have her there. Candide reflects upon her entry: “The people of Heshima Kenya warmly (welcomed) me and all the Heshima Kenya officers continued to work with me to make my life better.  The Heshima counselors helped me to accept my past and begin building my future. At Heshima Kenya my life was good and quiet.  I felt safe.  It was a wonderful place for me to live.” Candide began a new life at Heshima – in the Girls Empowerment Program she learned Swahili, English, Math, and life skills – such as cooking, cleaning, and other household responsibilities.

Finally,  Candide was able to be resettled in the United States. While she was thrilled because her life would no longer be in danger, and she could continue school to pursue her dream of becoming a criminal lawyer, she was greatly saddened to leave her Heshima family. She reflects upon her last night saying, “That night I celebrated with my wonderful Heshima Kenya girls, but everyone there was crying. I loved them. They loved me, too. Heshima Kenya was my safe place, my home because I was living with family who understood me and I understood them. Through our pain we reached out to each other. Together we began rebuilding our lives.”

Candide is currently living happily in the U.S., while it’s not easy to be in a new place with new people she loves her family here and is looking forward to graduation next year. She states why she feels it’s important to tell her story: “I’m sharing my story with you to show you how much Heshima Kenya has positively impacted my life. Please continue to help other young women who are faced with what appears to be insurmountable challenges and an uncertain future. With Heshima Kenya at their sides, miracles will happen and dreams can come true.”

Thank you again for your support and commitment to Heshima Kenya, which makes it possible for girls like Candide to begin to lead empowered lives. 


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Heshima Kenya

Chicago, IL, United States

Project Leader

Anne Sweeney

Chicago, IL United States

Where is this project located?

Map of The Safe House: An Enclave of Peace and Hope