Mirembe’s* first cries met her mother’s ears. Cries for love and comfort. Cries for nourishment and protection. But it wasn’t long before Mirembe’s mom passed away, followed by her dad only one month later. So early in life, this little girl was an orphan in Uganda, going to live with her grandfather.
“I do not know how old I am,” Mirembe confided, now a mother of four. “No one was there to tell me or even remember when I was born.”
“I think I was around seven,” she continued, “when a group of men, who used to come to my village in Uganda to buy local brew, convinced my grandfather to give me away as a house-help.”
What began as babysitting a woman’s kids on a Lake Victoria island soon turned into serving male customers at the bar where the woman worked. “The men started offering me a little money in exchange for sex,” shared Mirembe. Eventually, she became pregnant with twins, and the frequent-customer-become-father disappeared. Two more pregnancies followed.
“My life had no skill and no formal education to help me earn a living, and so I felt trapped in a life of prostitution,” she remembered. “I was so fed up.”
That’s when she ran into an old friend who had found a way to escape prostitution through a Samaritan’s Purse-supported partner helping women at risk. Our partner works in an area known as a hotspot for trafficking, exploitation, and prostitution.
Mirembe’s friend had attended our partner’s one-year rehabilitation program designed to give exploited women an opportunity to break free and start life anew. “I loved what she had become,” Mirembe said. “I made a decision to join the program in order to allow for a transformation.”
During the year, women in the program get access to safe housing, childcare, medical treatment, and Biblically-based counseling. They receive help to heal from addictions and spiritual oppression. They learn new job and business skills to provide for their families and use their unique talents to realize their potential after graduation.
They have a chance to hear the Gospel, and many put their faith in Jesus Christ, finally experiencing the love of the One who will never mistreat or disown them. After graduation, our partner connects new believers with local churches, and every woman receives follow-up care for two years.
With our partner, we also work to prevent sexual exploitation, connecting women and girls in surrounding communities with training and resources to help them stay free of its traps.
“I am glad I came [to the program] because I have gotten a chance to know God and His changing power,” said a grateful Mirembe. “I am now happily pursuing a skill in tailoring, and my four children are being supported with school fees.”
“I am happy because God has a good plan for my life,” she added.
“God has a good plan for my life.”
It takes vulnerability and perseverance, strength and humility to go on a journey of restoration with our local partner—to break free from an old life and start completely new. But every year, ten brave Ugandan women take this courageous step with your prayers and support behind them.
Many more women—exploited on the streets, trafficked across borders, or captive in the bars and brothels of Uganda and around the world—need a way of escape. You can keep making this possible through projects in more than 20 countries and open doors to sharing the hope of Jesus Christ, who gives “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3).
• Freedom and healing for those who are trapped today
• Stopping of the plans of traffickers and protection for people at extreme risk
• Strength for teams, partners, and churches on the frontlines
Across the world, every day, Samaritan’s Purse sees families and individuals who are enduring, or who are vulnerable to violence, exploitation, addiction, gangs, and more. From teaching women about safe migration to protecting children from exploitation and helping men free themselves from the bonds of addiction, your generous gifts can help restore their hope and empower individuals and families in Jesus’ Name.