Sanyuka Women at Risk: Florence's story

January 9, 2018 • Uganda

Florence suffered through years of exploitation and trafficking in Uganda before joining a Christ-centered program supported solely by Samaritan’s Purse Canada donors that equips women with the jobs, skills, and confidence to build new futures for themselves and their children.

“God created me for a purpose. I now believe that I’m going to go from glory to glory to the place where God has purposed me to be.”

When any woman says those words, it’s a reason to celebrate. When the woman saying the words is a former prostitute, you know she has undergone a complete transformation, so let’s truly rejoice!

Florence was still a little girl when her father died and she and her remaining family moved in with her grandparents. Then at nine, her family split again and she lived with an aunt.

That aunt did not keep her promise to allow Florence to attend school. Instead, Florence had to stay home and care for her aunt’s children and cows. Then, she was shunted to a distant uncle who’d often come home drunk and beat her or lock her out.

She found another place to live as a housekeeper, but the woman in the home soon kicked her out after realizing her husband was showing an inappropriate interest in the young girl.

Finally, Florence thought she’d found a home when she met a woman who invited her to join in operating a clothing store in the town of Jinja, about 80 kilometers from the capital city of Uganda.

Unfortunately, when Florence arrived in Jinja—known locally for its high rates of prostitution and drug trafficking—she learned the clothing store was really a bar, and her business partner was really a prostitute. Florence started working in the bar, and was soon pressured into prostitution too.

She hated her life, but she was so beaten down and hopeless that she stayed in that place for three dark years.

“I was so tired,” she recalls.

Florence (left) with Mary Zema (right), the founding director of Sanyuka.

Then, a woman approached her from the Sanyuka Women at Risk ministry in Jinja that helps women and their children escape prostitution.

Sanyuka has existed for 10 years and achieved a 90-per-cent success rate, says founding director Mary Zema, who started the ministry after escaping a life of prostitution.

The live-in program—fully funded by Samaritan’s Purse Canada donors—includes Christian counseling and support, plus a wide range of skills training including weaving, tailoring, cooking, catering, and jewelry making.

Florence and nine other women are midway through the 12-month program, which includes two years of follow-up support.

“I never knew I could be what I am today.”

Although Florence wants to start her own business after she completes her time at Sanyuka, she isn’t sure what it will involve—except that it won’t involve prostitution.

“Good things are going to happen to me,” the now 21-year-old says with a confident smile. “God created me for a purpose. I now believe that I’m going to go from glory to glory to the place where God has purposed me to be.”

Florence has a message for Samaritan’s Purse Canada and its donors too: “You have done a good work in my life. You have changed many lives. Because I never knew I could be what I am today. May God bless you, may God protect you.”

Please join us, through your donations and prayers, in transforming lives like Florence’s through this ministry and through others like it that we also support worldwide.

Read more stories of lives transformed by Sanyuka