Group of girls smiling

A Street Connected Girl Deserves a Chance to Dream

A difficult childhood

After her mother’s passing in a tragic car accident, Maria* was forced to move in with her father and stepmother at the age of six. She had dreams of being a doctor when she was young and her mother would always call her doctor to encourage her.

Her stepmother saw things differently and said that her father didn’t have the money to waste on her. Unlike her step-siblings, she was not allowed to go to school but for three years she was forced to be a housemaid for other people instead. No matter how much she complained, they did not want to send her back to school. 

One day, one of Maria’s aunts picked her up and brought her to her house, with the promise of bringing her back to school. Instead, she also forced Maria to look after her young baby and do housework for her.

The first month she expected maybe to be given some money as payment for her services, but the aunt didn’t pay her. When Maria became sick her aunt refused to take her to the hospital, but she expected her to continue to work when she was unwell. One morning at around 6am Maria’s aunt found her still sleeping and she beat her, saying she spent too much on feeding her and giving her a space to sleep. 

After months of continuous abuse, Maria decided to run away, hopeful she would find a better life somewhere else.

Finding S.A.L.V.E. 

Maria was forced to live on the streets and she struggled to find food and shelter. Because of how alone she was, many people took advantage of her and she was sexually abused. She made new friends on the street but they tried to introduce her to drugs, as a way of forgetting all her problems. 

She eventually gave in and started using drugs heavily but, as she says, she was very aware that it was a path that was destroying her health. Her lifelong dreams, including the one regarding becoming a doctor, seemed to vanish forever. 

After a while, staff from S.A.L.V.E. International found and met Maria. They gave her counseling regarding the dangers of using drugs and the dangers of staying on the streets. Their persistence and care convinced Maria to ask for help, to ask for a better life. 

A bright future ahead

Today, Maria is 17 years old. Looking back, she says she is deeply grateful to S.A.L.V.E. International, for their constant help throughout those hard times. She now believes that all her dreams could come true and still hopes to be able to do a job involving caring for and helping others, the same way she was helped.

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