Liya's journey out of prostitution shines hope for others in Ethiopia.
When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, expecting our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says, “there was no place for them” (Luke 2:7, ESV).
This is a feeling countless women in Ethiopia and around the world know today. Traveling from remote homes, they go to big cities searching for work, education, or a future that’s brighter than the one they leave behind.
But it’s rarely what they find. Instead, many of these young women discover discrimination, poverty, and that there is ‘no place for them’—except with those who would exploit them.
Liya* knows. Growing up in rural Ethiopia, she helped her family survive by selling fruits and vegetables. As a woman of strength, she courageously moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city, looking for better work. But her options were minimal. That’s when she was advised to sell her body for a living. Before then, Liya had never even heard of prostitution.
Years of hardship followed. Liya became pregnant, the father disappeared, and life became very dark. But God was there for Liya. He worked through the prayers and generosity of donors like you to show her that there is a place for her—and new life with Jesus.
Liya connected with staff from a Samaritan’s Purse partner helping women at risk. As the staff team ministered to her and others on the streets, they offered Liya a way out of the sexual exploitation she faced every night, and Liya accepted. She desperately wanted to escape; all she needed was the opportunity.
With several other women, Liya began a year-long support program with our partner. There she had a safe place to stay and a loving community to help her heal. She received job skills training to work as a waitress along with meals, hygiene supplies, counseling, and help to raise her three-year-old daughter.
Best of all, Liya heard the Gospel and found new hope in Jesus, who is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). “The more she discovered the love of God, the more she became interested in following Christ,” observed our partner. After committing her life to Jesus, Liya is now a member of a local church.
And even though the COVID-19 pandemic has brought tremendous hardship to Liya and many others, including delaying further education, she knows God is with her. “I have a bright future ahead of me,” said Liya, full of hope. “I know that God has my back, so I will not worry.”
This is a critical time for Liya and women across Ethiopia. The impact of the pandemic continues to intensify job losses, abuse, and exploitation. A new wave of armed conflict in the country is also causing terrible sexual violence and threatening thousands of lives.
Your support will make a critical difference by providing places of refuge that empower women like Liya to keep walking in strength, hope, and dignity during difficult days.