Sierra Leone - Maria, survived and wounded in a fire, returns to smile

10 July 2018

(ANS - Freetown) - Mary was asleep when a short-circuit triggered a fire that destroyed the home of the "Girls Os" program in Freetown, the Salesian house that housed 34 child victims of abuse. The heat and the smoke woke her up, but she could not leave the house. Her hands and her screams through the grates of one of the rooms allowed her to be saved, thanks to a young man who, on a ladder and with a stone in his hand, broke the bars. Maria suffered burns on her feet, but she has returned to smiling again and keeps intact her dream of becoming a social worker to help other girls like her.

Three days after the feast of Mary Help of Christians, May 27, Mary is reborn. "Mary Help of Christians performed a miracle, because I could only think of May 24 and asking the Virgin that she not die in the fire, " recalls Salesian missionary Fr Jorge Crisafulli.

When it seemed that all the children of the "Girls Os" program had already left the house and that they were all safe, Maria's hands suddenly appeared at the window making everyone fear the worst. The entrance to the house and the main hall were blocked by the flames. In an attempt to leave the house, Maria burned her feet on flaming plastic.

A month and a half later, Maria is smiling again at "Don Bosco Fambul", with all her wounds healed. "I like to sing and dance with my classmates and I keep dreaming of becoming a social worker to help other girls who have suffered situations like mine," she explains.

The story of Maria, like the story of many other girls in the "Girls Os" program, is very hard. She was sexually abused by a neighbor while her mother was at work. The serious injuries caused by the attacker forced her to stay in hospital for a long time and she needed several blood transfusions to survive.

After leaving the hospital, Mary's mother went to "Don Bosco Fambul" to denounce the assailant and ask that the minor be accepted. Thanks to the Salesians, her aggressor is now in prison; while for Mary, who had to interrupt her attending school for a quarter, the Salesians took action to make her recover her level of education.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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