For those of us in the United States, it’s totally unimaginable what the girls currently living at the Lukome Center have been through. And 17-year-old Keji, from the war-torn country of South Sudan, is no exception.

Orphaned when she was three and eventually forced out onto the streets when she was still just a child, Keji desperately sought security and protection. Imagine having nowhere to call your home and fearing for your safety every day. Feeling it was her only option, she moved in with an older man and soon became pregnant. It wasn’t long after Juma was born that the father of her child kicked them out.

When we found Keji, she was wandering the streets with her baby son, Juma – desperate and at the point of suicide. She was scrounging what subsistence she could by selling tea on the streets. Her eyes had that dead, lost look of hopelessness and despair. She had no idea how she and Juma would survive.

But now, after nine months at the Lukome Center, Keji has a bright and hopeful future! She wears a smile that lights up the room as she enters class in her ChildVoice uniform. She is so excited for this chance at a better life for her and her child.

Both Keji and Juma love being part of the community at the Lukome Center, participating in games, music, and other learning activities. And when she graduates in September, Keji will be every bit as motivated and successful as the other girls who have graduated over the past ten years.