Angela* grew up in a small town near Oruro, Bolivia with her parents and siblings. She would sell food with her mother in the mornings before school to help cover expenses. Each day Angela would return the pots to the house and change clothes before running to class. But one morning Angela’s mother was unable to accompany her home in the taxi, and at 12 years old, Angela was raped.
Shy and terrified to tell the police or her parents, Angela blamed herself. She didn’t know what to do when the bleeding wouldn’t stop. She cried and hid and pretended it didn’t happen. But rather than forgetting, she slipped into depression, a dark and rebellious lifestyle, and finally ran away to “work” in the city at fourteen.
As many girls surviving on the streets, Angela ended up in the brothels of El Alto. She had four children by different men, and continued to prostitute to feed them and send them to school. Then, after 25 years of abuse, violence and addiction in prostitution, she met Jesus.
In 2006, shortly after her conversion, she approached us with her desire to leave prostitution, presenting an elementary business plan to open a little outdoor snack shop near her hometown, selling food as she had done alongside her mother long ago.
Since then, over a decade has passed, but we’ve never forgotten our friend in Oruro. Just last week, on the way back from a fabulous photoshoot of our newest 2017 SutiSana collection, we passed through Angela’s hometown. On a whim, we stopped by to visit her. As it was a holiday, we expected her to be closed, but she was packed out! What simply began as coffee, tea and sandwiches, has grown into a flourishing diner! During our brief 1/2 hour breakfast stop, we watched over 30 customers flow in, enjoying peanut soup and lamb curry, not to mention a variety of other delicacies on the menu. Angela has built a loyal customer base, awakening at 3 a.m. to prepare meals for the many who consider her the best roadside stop in town!
Angela has worked hard to never have to return to prostitution. On average, a woman attempts to leave the streets 7 times before finally becoming free. But Angela is going strong, supporting even her grandchildren. Her greatest pride? Her youngest son just graduated from high school!
In our feeble first attempts to support prostituted women, we prayed what felt like a promise for Angela:
Because she loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her;
I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name.
She will call upon me, and I will answer her;
I will be with her in trouble,
I will deliver her and honor her.**
Will you continue to pray with us as we continue to accompany more women like Angela seeking abundant life?
* Name changed to respect her privacy. ** Pronoun liberties taken to fit story context.