Martha
31
Uganda
Bead Maker
2 children

Until a few years ago I did not know what dignity was. I am Martha, a 31-year-old mother of two. My oldest child is in high school and youngest is in the third grade. I used to support my family though prostitution. I spent my time on the street: drinking, fighting, stealing, and waiting for men; I had no skills and no other choice in life. Each day took a toll on me both mentally and physically. I worried about how I was going to survive with my children in the long run. Nobody seemed to care about my problems. One day I met with a pastor and found support through the church. The church came forward and listened to me; they cared about my life, my children, and my challenges. They appreciated my willingness to change my life and decided to rent a small house for me. This opened one door of opportunity for me that soon turned into other opportunities. Through the church I learned to how to make paper beads and found a market with All Across Africa. Bead making was a life-changing event. I left behind my life as a prostitute and could finally afford to pay rent and no longer had to live on the streets; I could even pay to send my children to school. As a prostitute I used to have nightmares about how little hope I had for my children’s future. But as I improve my skills at bead making, I know I am leaving a new legacy behind for my children. I am setting a good example for my children by teaching them that it is important to rise up and gain strength when you are beset with the worst. I have regained my respect and dignity.