Freedom from Torture - "Just to know someone is thinking of you at Christmas, that gives you joy."

"Just to know someone is thinking of you at Christmas, that gives you joy."

Christmas is often a difficult time for torture survivors, far away from home and their loved ones. But a small gesture from you can make a huge difference in showing some they’re not alone.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Celeste looked forward to a bright future. Instead, she faced weeks of torture. This Christmas, Celeste and her little boy Claude will be far from their family and friends. After her horrific experiences, Celeste needs your kindness.

Caring and compassionate, Celeste went to university to study nursing. As she says, “Nursing is a passion for me. I want to support people in their difficulties”.

Driven by her desire to help others, Celeste also joined a student group campaigning against corruption. But she was arrested for speaking out.

She was held for a month in a small dark cell, where she was repeatedly tortured and raped. Thankfully, her uncle managed to get her out and onto a plane to safety.

Can you imagine arriving in a new country traumatised and alone, at the age of 19, without even knowing the language?

She says: “I couldn’t understand anything. If Freedom from Torture wasn’t here I don’t think I’d be alive, with the trauma I’ve been through.”

As a young mum, Celeste tries to remain positive, but without her loved ones, this is the loneliest time of year.

She says: “I find Christmas hard. I feel very sad when it comes to December. Back in my country, Christmas is a joyous time of group celebration. All the neighbours and friends get together. There would be music, food and dancing… it was a happy time. It’s quiet now, it’s very different. It will just be me and my son at Christmas.

Every year we appeal to our supporters' kindness to help us give a Christmas present to every survivor of torture we work with. For many of them, this will be the only present they'll get all year.

Will you help us fund a Christmas Care Box full of thoughtful and practical gifts to bring comfort and joy to Celeste and little Claude this Christmas?

I would like to thank the supporters who buy the presents and send messages, they don’t know us but they do it anyway. This is very kind. I hope to do my exams so that one day I can become a nurse. Then I’ll be able to help others and buy gifts for my son and myself.

To receive a present and a handwritten card, when you don’t have any family here, is very nice. Just to know someone is thinking of you, that gives you joy. – Celeste

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