Karina still struggles to think about her painful childhood and abusive father.
“It was a childhood of suffering,” she recalls. “There was never love for me or my five sisters. I still cannot believe someone could abuse his own children in that way.”
In her teen years, Karina wanted to get as far away from the abuse as possible. She started hanging out on the streets with a rough group of friends. She soon found herself behind bars where she served for nearly four years. “I guess, in some way, I was looking for a new family, where nobody would touch or hurt me. At the time, it’s what I thought I needed for protection,” she says reflectively. “Looking back, I can now see that I was trying to escape pain. However, my decision to be on the streets just brought me more suffering.”
The time in the detention center was transformative for Karina. She participated in the Success Academy and learned about God’s love for her. She began to see that she had potential for a different kind of life.
“Right away, I met the Orphan Helpers teachers who sat down with me and spent time with me. I learned that my future depends on my own choices and my trust in God. I now know that I can have a better future in spite of my painful past,” she contemplates. “This is something I never considered previously. I began to believe in opportunities and think about those possibilities after leaving the centers. It was a different perspective. I was able to stop worrying about what others thought of me, and focus on my own goals for the future.”
While she was behind bars, Karina also started learning to play music. Now, at 23, she is continuing that pursuit and studying to be a music teacher. Karina also seeks ways to give back and help other youth in tough circumstances. She volunteers with a music project called “Harmony Cuscatleca” that offers free music lessons and safe spaces to Salvadoran youth as an alternative to gangs and violence.
“We provide ways to make music fun, practical and comprehensible for these kids,” says Karina. “I know what it’s like to have a painful childhood. Kids need a healthy way to process their emotions and they need a healthy place where they can belong.”
Thanks to your support, Karina now has a bright future. Her transformation is one more example of how your generosity is making a difference in young lives.
“Looking back, I can see that I am a completely different person. Now, I am always looking ahead and finding opportunities,” she says. “I want others to see my life and recognize that God has transformed me. I want to be a living example for other youth, like me, who are looking to change their lives.”