I don’t remember my birth mother, and I was brought from the countryside into the city of Addis at age 3 by an aunt who promised my family I would have a “better life .” Instead, I was groomed to be a housemaid and given so many responsibilities that the load of work became impossible. By age 12, I ran away and began living on the street. I felt lost and I was continually raped . Eventually, I became pregnant. With a baby at 15, I learned to have sex for money so I could support her. I coped with life through drinking, drugs and smoking. // I enrolled in counseling to work through my addictions, my childhood trauma, and learn ways to reconnect with my now 7-year-old daughter. I am thankful to be working where I am surrounded by friends who love me. I have a job that provides dignity, and I am now able to embrace my role as a mother to my two daughters.

March 22, 2016 — Marisa Pardo