The Guilford County Family Justice Center recently opened a second location not far away in the city of High Point, North Carolina. As part of their Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, the Family Justice Center chose to empower survivors in their community by asking several to speak, including 11-year-old Camp HOPE America camper, Malaya.

Camp HOPE America is a camping and mentoring program for children impacted by domestic violence operated by Alliance for HOPE International, which develops Family Justice Centers across the nation. Malaya had been to Camp HOPE America the past two summers, along with her little sister. They have both been affected by the trauma caused by witnessing violence in their family.

Malaya, however, has not let her past experiences define her, but rather inspire her to encourage others and find hope for a brighter future.

“I know the definition of domestic violence… I know that children living in homes with domestic violence are more likely to become victims or abusers as adults. I also know that children who have had domestic violence happen to them or in their home, can feel like it’s their fault… I know these things because my family – me, my mom, and my sister – had this happen to us,” Malaya stated.

She shared how the Guilford County Family Justice Center made a difference in her life and the life of her family saying, “My mom is courageous; she is a survivor. We had people who helped us and we are now living a life full of happiness, love, and hope.”

Chelsea Armstrong, a Regional Coordinator for Camp HOPE America, was working at camp this past summer and met Malaya and her sister. She distinctly remembers the genuine care and compassion Malaya had for her young sibling. “Malaya’s little sister was attending camp for the first time and feeling homesick. Malaya kindly gave her sister big hugs as she assured her they would be back with their mom soon and should enjoy all the exciting activities that were planned for them each day. Because of the life-changing experiences Malaya had had, she was able to give her little sister hope and use her empowering words to help her sister make it through the rest of the week,” Chelsea recalled.

“Camp HOPE America taught me that even though bad things happen,” Malaya said, “you can still have hope inside yourself.”


By Alexa Peterson