Meeting Ira at the crisis centre.
I arrived early evening...
The men, women and children, from their respective crisis centres, were attending their mid-week church service. While they worshipped, I was shown down a dark corridor to the shared women and children’s bedrooms where every space was filled with bunk beds, cots and cribs. It’s run down and over-crowded but a life-line for all of them. I’m told they're all looking forward to moving to the new building next door once it’s finished. But, for now, they still have regular meals, a roof over their heads, warmth, fewer temptations to return to drugs and no abusive partners to live in fear of.
The service ended and the men returned to their centre while the mums chatted and the children burned off the last of their energy before bed. One mum with a baby in a pram, a toddler on her hip and two others at her feet looked weary and had tears in her eyes. I asked someone how she’d ended up here...
Ira was heavily pregnant with three small children when she arrived. Her husband was an alcoholic and his violent outbursts meant she and the children didn't feel safe under the same roof... but with no income of her own she was trapped.
After hearing the reputation of the crisis centre, that 'never turns anyone away', Ira made a long journey and arrived at the centre in a mess. She was welcomed in and space was made in a small room for her and the children.
Without this centre, she would either have had to stay with her husband, risking hers and the children's safety, or, take her chances elsewhere and risk becoming homeless and lose her children to the orphanage system.
Soon after arriving, she gave birth to her fourth child. Shortly after that it was clear Ira still loved her husband and hoped that, without the drink controlling him, he could be a good husband. She began praying for him. Withing weeks he chose to come to the men’s centre to get help! He is now several months into sobriety and learning who he is in Christ.
They are both working toward becoming a family again and hope that after completing the full rehabilitation programme (approx: 1yr), they'll be reunited, move into a flat nearby and remain near the centre for support. This is a real story... ...of reconciliation and hope. What a testimony of how with God at the centre, whole families can be transformed!
Having now met some of these women in person, it has become real to me just how much of a need there is for this place, its impact and how important it is to complete the new building. The new building next door is where the women's crisis centre will relocate when finished. They will have more bed space and better facilities; it will be lighter and brighter and have lower running costs.
In the words of Alina who runs the centre; "I cannot wait for these women who have gotten through life with nothing and no-one to experience some comfort, something good... and come to realise that they can have and deserve to have good things in life!"
In the next blog you'll find out more about the new crisis centre; how far it's come, what's left to do and how you can help!