Trusting men is difficult for a 23-year-old Ethiopian woman we’ll call Mesret.
Two years ago, Mesret trusted her boyfriend when he said he loved her and wanted to marry. She gave in to his pressure to have sex. When she became pregnant, “he disappeared.”
Mesret was ashamed and so were her angry parents. Feeling forced to leave, she moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. Some people she met offered Mesret and her baby girl a place to stay while she looked for work. When she couldn’t find anything, her new “friends” wanted rent from her—no matter how she earned it.
One of the “friends” was in prostitution and invited Mesret to join her. She agreed, and began working Addis Ababa’s sex trade districts two nights a week while paying someone to care for her daughter.
“I started with two nights a week because I still thought I could find another job,” Mesret recalls.
When no job materialized, she began working six or seven nights a week as a prostitute.
Mesret was thankful for the money, but increasingly disgusted with how she was earning it. One night on the streets, she began talking to an employee of a Christian organization—Ethiopia Women at Risk or EWAR—that Samaritan’s Purse Canada and its donors have supported for many years.
The employee told Mesret that EWAR could help her escape prostitution. She agreed to enter EWAR’s 12-month rehabilitation program. It features six months of emotional and spiritual counselling, followed by six months of learning job skills to ensure she wouldn’t need to return to prostitution.
Faced with several training options—including jewelry making, weaving, and food services—Mesret signed on to learn housekeeping.
She’s now a housekeeper at a local hotel, earning less than half of what she did in prostitution. And she’s okay with that.
“Now, the money I am earning is in the right way,” Mesret says with a shy smile. “It is blessed.”
In addition to a new job, she has reconciled with her parents, and started receiving child support from her ex-boyfriend who’s now married to another woman.
When asked what she learned through EWAR and its rehabilitation efforts, Mesret says: “I learned a lot about myself. I learned about why God created me.”
Mesret’s hopes for the future are modest. She wants to continue earning enough to support her little girl and “if it’s God’s will, I want to marry and possibly have more children.”
The EWAR program offers graduates like Mesret the opportunity to mentor women who’ve recently left the sex trade. That interests her: “I want to help women who have had similar problems.”
Mesret has no plans to ever tell her daughter about her nightmarish 19 months in the sex trade. But she says she’ll definitely tell the girl about the dangers of pre-marital sex, and believing what boyfriends and other exploitation-minded men may say.
“I’ll tell her ‘don’t be foolish—don’t trust every man.’ I will trust them again, but I won’t ignore God’s word.”
To the Samaritan’s Purse donors who support EWAR and other Bible-based anti-trafficking initiatives like it in other parts of the world, Mesret says: “God bless you on behalf of the people who are neglected and on the street. You are caring for us and giving us new lives.”
Through your donations to Samaritan’s Purse and your prayers, you can provide new lives to many more women like Mesret. Please link arms with us so we can tell as many people as possible that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, ESV).
The hardships women in the developing world face often leave them without hope. Through your generous gifts, Samaritan's Purse is working to restore the hope of women through programs aimed at increasing literacy, providing maternal health care, teaching livelihood skills, and stopping trafficking and prostitution.