‘I don’t do this for money. I don’t do this for recognition. I do this to see women rebuild their lives.’
Elineide is the heart of the Casa Noeli dos Santos safe house.
Having seen her own sister suffer – her violent husband stabbed her seven times when she tried to leave him – Elineide felt called to create a refuge for women fleeing domestic violence.
She helps the women report crimes to the police – because the police station can be a frightening place, and the officers don’t always want to help.
She makes legal referrals and finds schools for children who have fled with their mothers. When the women leave the refuge, she travels with them to help them feel safe.
Inevitably, Elineide is drawn into their lives. When she thinks about the things the women have gone through, sometimes the horror of it all threatens to overwhelm her. But Elineide has her faith to lean on, and it gives her the strength to go on.
The safe house currently helps about 150 women a year. But Elineide has big plans for the future. ‘I’d like to turn this house into a teaching centre,’ she says.
‘So it wouldn’t just be a place of welcome and safety. I’d like to offer courses to train women and give them new skills and knowledge. That way, this house can become a model for others.’