Valerie* and Christina* were both young single mothers caught up in a life neither truly wanted.

Coming from poor families with limited education, they had limited employment options. Both girls ended up working at a bar, letting their bodies be sold in order to provide for their kids and their families. Here, in this dangerous place, they met and formed a strong and important friendship.

Our rescue agents identified Valerie, the younger of the two, and began the process of building relationship to offer rescue and freedom. During this time they also met Christina and knew that this would be a double rescue. Valerie and Christina heard our agent’s offer of freedom and suspected it was yet another ploy with strings attached. They were wary of yet another trick that would result in more exploitation, hurt and dangerous unknowns. Not giving up, our agents were able to show them the facilities of the partner organization ready to provide them with aftercare and introduced them to two caseworkers. Both girls soon realized the only ‘strings attached’ would be a curfew and some basic house rules. Together they accepted our offer of freedom.

Leaving bar life and adjusting to life in an aftercare home is not always easy. Both girls struggled but together persevered through the change. They knew the staff there truly cared for them and grew to recognize that the rules and restrictions existed for their benefit. As they adjusted to the transition Valerie’s mom would pressure her to return to her previous life but with Christina’s help and encouragement, Valerie was able to remain strong and stay in the restoration program.

Both friends grew so much while in the aftercare home. Their unique personalities surfaced as they opened up and flourished! Christina is the more outgoing one, always making everyone around her laugh. She loves that the extra-curricular activities provided in her new home allow her to express herself and even received an award for her creativity! Valerie is incredibly sweet, her personality is more quiet and reserved and she opens up more when around close friends. She enjoys that the program she’s in gives her the balance to attend school, study, and visit her children without needing to work at night.

Together, they attended a tertiary program studying culinary arts! Because they have unfinished high school educations, this training is vital to providing them safe employment options in the future. This opportunity means a lot to these girls, their rescue agent remembers Valerie proudly texting him photos of the food she was learning to prepare.

Both are known by staff and their teachers as hard-working overachievers. They even began their own small business making and selling bakery treats in their communities and at school to support themselves and their children. With an impressive maturity for their age, they have taken responsibility for their finances and can now manage the budgets for their families and their new business.

Side by side, they faced incredible odds, overcame fear and obstacles and are pursuing their dreams. Through it all they encourage and help each other, demonstrating the true power of friendship.

*Names and images have been changed to protect their identities