Rizna* was the youngest in her family and was cared for by an aging grandmother since her father abandoned her family and her mother was employed overseas. Embittered by her circumstances, Rizna grew up to be a stubborn teenager who would leave the house whenever a dispute would arise. In fact, it was unusual for Rizna to remain in one place for more than 3 months; she would leave her grandmother’s home to live with other relatives and shift back to her grandmother’s whenever she quarrels with them. Her conflicts with family members and boyfriends would occur quite frequently. On one such occasion, Rizna even attempted to take her life, overdosing on tablets that were prescribed to her for a headache.

The rejection she faced early on in life from her family members affected Rizna’s behaviour. She was stubborn and could not be corrected. Following a dispute with her aunt over a confiscated mobile phone, Rizna ran away from home and was found crying at a bus stop by a concerned passer-by. Rizna was then escorted to the nearest police station and on evaluating her psychological condition, probation services admitted her to the children’s hospital in Borella for residential treatment. At the hospital, Rizna was treated for depression and was thereafter referred to LEADS for further treatment.

Rizna received residential psychosocial therapy while at LEADS’ respite centre in Colombo for 3 months. Thanks to the help, guidance and care she received at the centre, Rizna’s journey to recovery was not a hard one. She displayed many good qualities and was respectful towards all adults at the centre. Rizna was responding well to all the love and attention which were denied to her as a child. As counselling progressed, her caregivers observed that Rizna was beginning to build hopes for her future and was excited about her life. Her caregivers also encouraged Rizna to rebuild her relationship with her family.

As LEADS provides after-care services towards the reintegration of children receiving help at its centres, Rizna too was persuaded to further her studies or develop a life-skill. As a child, Rizna had only received education up until the fifth grade and it was difficult for her to follow a course in beauty therapy. LEADS was thereby instrumental in enrolling Rizna into a course at a reputed institute and when Rizna’s mother discontinued to financially support her, LEADS supported her with tuition and transport expenses. With the aim of encouraging Rizna on her new journey, LEADS helped locate her birth certificate and ensured that she secures her National Identity Card. LEADS is proud to have made a difference in Rizna’s life and for its contribution in ensuring that she has access to a brighter future despite the emotional abuse and neglect she faced during her formative years.

*Name has been changed to protect her identity

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