Trigger warning – this story contains references to sexual assault which some individuals may find distressing.

Fiona has been walking in freedom for over a year. Her life is now full of hope, and she displays qualities of strength and leadership—a stark contrast to the despair in her downcast eyes when she first walked into our office in April 2021.

There was difficulty in creating boundaries with my old friends who used to come every day and try to get me back in the act of sex business,” Fiona said. 

Alone and Afraid

Like many children in war-torn Uganda, Fiona experienced a childhood filled with loss and hardship. Her mother became ill and died before Fiona turned ten years old. “I was left with no one to take care of me or even anywhere to go,” she said.

Fiona walked home from the hospital after losing her mother and found her former residence locked up because they were three months behind on rent. Her mother had been a prostitute, and she knew no other relatives—not even her father.

An older woman in the village took care of Fiona, but this act of generosity came with danger. Her caregiver’s male relatives would attempt to rape Fiona, and their advances escalated significantly after the older woman passed away.

“On one fateful day, I decided to leave her home because the sexual advances were too much,” Fiona said. She fled the only home she had left and joined a friend on the streets. Her friend was already in the sex business, and Fiona had no other way to earn an income to survive. So she felt she had to join. After this, her life became even more difficult.

I was introduced to the use of drugs and alcohol,” she recalled. Fiona’s new reality was a constant stream of different men using her body in exchange for a few dollars. As she recounted one particularly harrowing experience with a client, she said, “[He] left me there… I went and used dirty water to clean the blood off me.”

Another time, late in the night, while she was at a disco bar (a business known for its association with the sex industry), she was gang-raped in the bathroom by several men.

After sharing these memories, she told us, “My life was so miserable that I was even ready to die.”

Although leaving her former life on the streets was difficult, Fiona persevered in our program and said, “I started seeing a future coming in my life, and slowly–slowly, I started dropping a lot of that which used to tie me.”

Girls in Uganda learning to sew

Breakthrough

Enrolled in our community care program, Fiona began attending our Empower trauma rehabilitation program and a discipleship class, which became catalysts for her freedom.

 

Today

Fiona completed her tailoring training from January to August 2022 and continues to flourish and grow. Once national exam results come in, her class will graduate, and she will receive a tailoring package with a sewing machine and materials to help her start her own business.

If you looked into Fiona’s eyes today, instead of the cold gaze of someone hardened by a life filled with brutality, you would see gentleness, compassion and understanding.

Her life is not hopeless, and she is no longer alone.

Her name has been changed to protect her identity. Her story has been gathered and shared with her input and informed consent. We are grateful for the honor of amplifying her voice.

 

Send Rescue. Send Hope.


1 in 5 girls, and 1 in 7 boys, reported they had previously exchanged sex for food. Together we can break the cycle of trafficking.

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