For the last decade, Kimberly Smith and her husband have provided complete care and protection from slave trafficking to more than 1,500 Sudanese women and children, but it's come at a steep personal cost.
Smith is the CEO and founder of Make Way Partners, a Christian mission agency committed to protecting and training local communities to provide "everything it takes to raise a child within their own culture by their own indigenous leaders." But she told HuffPost Live's Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani that during her time in South Sudan, she's been the victim of multiple attacks.
Make Way Partners first opened the orphanage on the border of North and South Sudan at the height of the Darfur crisis, which made the area particularly vulnerable. Smith shared a harrowing incident that happened when she was out looking for a child they had been caring for.
"I had really gone out too far on my own," Smith said. "I came down along the river and ran along the side of Islamic Darfuri refugees ... and they attacked me not knowing who I was or what I was doing, beat me pretty severely and raped me."
Despite the incident, Smith has continued her efforts in Darfur to help orphans overcome similar traumas and setbacks. She explained that part of what has kept her going is understanding the "collective psychic trauma."
One of the men that raped me was not a man, he was a boy, not any different from the orphans that we have in our orphanage. I remember looking at his face and I wondered, 'How many of your sisters, how many of your aunties, or your mother [has been] raped through his whole Islamic invasion that your people have suffered.' These Darfuris are highly traumatized. What has happened to these people, for how long, for this kind of evil to just keep on circulating through them? It has taken time. It was not easy. It is not easy. I still get afraid at times, but there is something that I think wants, in all of us, to honor the dignity of humanity in each and every person.