By Natalie Sarrett

In one Asian country, Send Relief partners have been repeatedly beaten and left for dead in alleyways and side streets.

Their families have been robbed.

And the girls in their congregations assaulted.

The national average for sexual attacks there has gone up by 40% in just one year. After just two months working in this nation, Send Relief partners received nearly 70 assault reports. We heard story after story of girls and boys—some only in elementary school—blaming themselves for the brutal attacks they were subjected to while walking home from school.

While child abuse hotlines were set up to try to document the issue, many children felt too much shame surrounding their experiences to pick up the phone, and some turned to alcohol to try to numb their feelings of defeat.

Last year, the women of this region rose up and said, “No more.”

After these women approached Send Relief with their heartbreak over the rampant child abuse in their community, we partnered with local missionaries and churches to hold self-defense classes. Hiring licensed professionals and counselors, Send Relief partners traveled around the country giving at-risk individuals the strength to fight back, the knowledge of their inherent value, and the therapy necessary to heal from the pain of assault.

Nearly 200 children, 10 teachers and 4 local leaders were educated on self-defense training, and through the success of these classes, the region’s entire school curriculum was expanded to include self-defense techniques and intentional coaching sessions. Many families were exposed to the gospel for the first time, and at the end of the program, four people made commitments to follow Christ.

The change in these children is inspiring.

One child, Shilah, approached an instructor in tears, sharing her story of assault for the first time. Shilah admitted that the trauma and shame surrounding her attack drove her to seriously contemplate suicide. After meeting with our counselor and completing the self-defense program, Shilah shared that she feels a confidence and wholeness that she didn’t know she could feel again.

Another program participant, Jacob, was repeatedly beaten by his alcoholic stepfather. At the last attempted attack, Jacob was able to use the self-defense he learned to escape the scenario without harm.

Still another trainee, Batu, was told by his family that he could no longer attend classes because of the gospel presentations shared at each session. Batu defied his Shaman elders’ instructions and walked the length of the entire community with our partners, peppering them with questions about Jesus and His story.

Since the project’s completion, 160 kids came forward with their experiences of abuse and were able to experience the power of seeing themselves as empowered survivors who now not only have the practical skills necessary to defend themselves, but also the emotional tools needed to heal and show compassion to others who have undergone similar harassment.

Thank you for facilitating healing for these precious children. To support more efforts like this, give today at sendrelief.org/donate.