In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we want to share with you a survivor's story of finding healing, hope and freedom.
Fon grew up in a household that struggled to provide for 7 people on only $10 a day. Under financial stress, her family argued constantly. Fon felt hopeless about her future and at 14 years old, she ran away to live with her friends. After leaving her family penniless, she ran into the immediate problem of paying rent. Desperate not to return home, she pleaded with her friends for help. Fon’s male friend suggested she begin selling herself for sex on Facebook.
“I had to pay my rent for the month and had no one to borrow money from… It was either sell myself or be homeless… I felt I had only one option.”
At 14, Fon had no idea how this decision would impact her future. Her only focus was surviving the month. She marketed herself on Facebook and within hours this young teen’s childhood ended. She had begun a lifestyle that she felt was irreversible.
“I had many customers in the country that took up almost all my time. Every day I worked and still had only enough money to pay for food. I didn’t know what to do. I kept thinking all of my mistakes were too late to fix...”
After years of operating in this lifestyle and still making only enough money to barely survive, Fon was found by the local police and came to live at Rapha International. At our safe house she was surrounded by staff who loved her. Gradually, she began to believe she could have a life apart from sexual exploitation and underage prostitution. She no longer had to struggle to survive because her basic needs were met by Rapha International. Fon began thinking about her education for the first time and considered studying her ultimate passions; drawing and painting. The first time she presented a staff member with her artwork, they told her how beautiful it was. She burst into tears. It was the first time someone had affirmed her and told her how proud they were of her. She now plans on going to college and helping other girls in poverty or exploitative situations see their potential.
“Now I know that my future does not have to include prostitution. I will be able to study in school and become an artist. I know my past does not have to be my future and I have people who are proud of me and love me no matter what I have done.”