Countering Child Abuse: Carol's Case

Our libraries are more than places where you find an excellent collection of books. They are also places where children can come to find a way to express themselves in our different programs. Some children come to the library because it is a safe environment. Such is the case of a young girl who I will call Carol. Carol spends lots of time in NLL, looking at books and participating in different programs. After a recent mentoring session, Carol opened up to library staff about having been sexually abused in the past. We were there to hear her story, when her home environment did not provide the love and care she deserved. Yesterday, Carol approached one of our staff members with a deep wound on her forehead. I was in NLL at the time and was told that the wound was a result of physical abuse from her mother. Carol had not been given medical attention for several days and was clearly traumatized. "My mum did this to me," she said, "she wanted to kill me." I spoke to her and realized that Carol had an abusive and negligent mother. Since yesterday, Lubuto staff have initiated action to protect the girl. We have worked with her school and the Child Protection Unit of the Zambia Police Service to make the mother accountable, while ensuring that Carol receives very urgent medical care. And since NLL is embedded in the community, we will continue monitoring Carol's situation. by Thomas Mukonde.