Not many people know the story of the woman behind our Women at Risk (now known as Economic Freedom) project but you should. Last week the Mocha Club team had the opportunity to sit down with the founder of Women at Risk and hear her story, her journey, and her heart. We learned that it doesn’t take a hero to make big things happen, just a person with a big heart.
I attended a university and studied economics. After graduation, I couldn’t find a job for a year. It’s common to not have a job after high school but after attending a university, most people have a job. I felt frustrated.
One night, my uncle was driving his car through Addis and I noticed a girl that was obviously a prostitute. I was usually home by 8 pm and was not used to seeing this “night life”. I wanted to know more about this girl. I felt no judgement for the girls but a responsibility to reach out to these girls.
I finally got my first job and it was great but the Lord was bringing this girl from the streets into my mind. I shared this passion and my heart for these girls with my small group. One of the ladies encouraged me to befriend just one girl.
How am I going to help this woman?
In 1994, I shared my heart about the women on the streets with a missionary friend from work and she wanted to partner with me to minister to these girls. At the time, there were about 85,000 girls working on the streets in Addis and there was a high HIV infection rate.
My missionary friend and I decided to befriend just one or two girls. In December, we went out on the streets to meet these one or two girls. The first girl we met was nasty and mean but the second girl was nice. The first girl was heavy into witchcraft and did not want anything to do with us but would share to her friends about us. One night, this girl’s house burnt down so I looked for her and wanted to offer her help. During this time, the girl committed her life to Christ and asked God for a job and money for her and her son. When she found me and all the supplies I wanted to give to her, she saw it as a sign from God. I kept asking for prayers for this girl. A Canadian family took the girl in and paid for her education and job skills. Now, one girl was saved but more girls were coming.
Slowly, all the girls realized, “You must care for us if you keep coming at night in the cold”. At this point, there were 7 girls we had helped. The women didn’t have any skills but lots of addiction. Behavior was the problem, not the lack of money.
Women at Risk started with 2 girls and now there 120 women being rescued each year. Seven women who have completed the rehabilitation and job skills training are now on staff. Five other girls have created a get-together once a month for the sole purpose of being a people of praise and now new graduates are coming to join them.
“God does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. I can’t do it but it’s the Lord. Ministry is not about what we can do but allowing God to do the work. God will use us, if we let him.”
Learn more about how you can partner with Cherry and support Women at Risk.