Living in Hope

Upon visiting St. Peter’s, seven students were randomly selected for personal unscripted interviews. The women willingly participated in the interviews because they wanted their stories to be heard. In order to respect their privacy, their full identity has been protected by only using  numbers. (Note: Some of the students are sponsored by the Society for Women and Aids in Africa-Sierra Leone (SWAASL), an organization that supports the rehabilitation of sex workers and women living with HIV/AIDs).

Student #1 is 19 years old. She is unmarried and has no children. She is enrolled in her first year of a three-year program at St. Peter’s. Her tuition was sponsored by her older sister, who tragically died due to unknown medical complications after giving birth to a baby girl. Her sister’s death came after the death of her father. While dealing with her grief, she was also tasked with the responsibility of raising her niece. She works part-time on the weekends selling fish and various marketable products and attends St. Peter’s full time during the week. She is in high spirits that she will utilize her certification to support herself and her niece.

Student #2 is 22 years old, is unemployed, is unmarried, and she has an eight year old daughter. SWAASL, who provides services to her terminally ill mother, referred her to St. Peter’s. Her father passed away several years ago, and she reluctantly faces the reality of losing her mother too. Student #2 is enrolled in her first year of a three-year program, and her focus is on cooking and baking. She has high hopes for managing a prominent restaurant or hotel upon completing her certification and vows to continue her education and improve life, despite the tragedies within her family history.

Student #3 is 23 years old, she has a nine month old daughter, and is currently dating. Her parents are deceased and her aunt recently passed away. She was also abandoned by her child’s father. Through her grief, she continues in her first year of a three-year program at St. Peter’s. Her current boyfriend is sponsoring her and encourages her personal growth. She is happy in her current relationship, is doing well in school, and despite the sorrows with her family past, she perseveres to make a better life for herself and her daughter. She strives towards her certification and anticipates managing her own restaurant upon completion of the program.

Student #4 is 25 years old, is unmarried, and has an eight year old daughter and a three year old son. Her father experienced the wrath of the rebels during the war when his hands were forcefully amputated. He subsequently died from complication of the injuries. She was not assisted financially by her mother and due to her difficulty in making money for her family, she resorted to prostitution. Thankfully, she met a positive group of friends that referred her to the St. Peter’s, where she is enrolled in her first year of a three-year program. She is so dedicated to her education that she takes three forms of transportation to get to school. She has aspirations of one day owning her own food distribution market.

Student #5 is 28 years old, unemployed, unmarried and has a nine and ten year old daughter. She has lost both of her parents. Due to the difficulty in making ends meet, she resorted to prostitution. As a result of her desperate attempts to support her family, she contracted a terminal illness and has suffered medical consequence as well as stigmatization. She attempted suicide once to escape her pain, but her life was spared only through God’s grace. She was referred to St. Peter’s through SWAASL. She continues the first year of a three-year program. She proclaims that her experience at St. Peter’s is the most influential aspect of her life. She is highly motivated to complete the program, acquire stable employment, and provide for her children.

Student #6 is 29 years old and unemployed. She is unmarried and has a one year old son. Her grandmother and her mother are deceased. She does not know her father’s whereabouts. She was homeless and was selling assorted items to support herself and her son, when SWAASL found her and referred her to St. Peter’s. She is enrolled in the first year of a three-year program and is pursuing a certification in catering, tailoring, and hand crafts. She aspires to use her skills in order to improve her future.

Student #7 is 29 years old and unmarried. She has a 12 year old son and a 15 year old daughter. Her mother is decease and her ailing father resides in a neighboring village. In order to provide for her children, she resorted to prostitution. She quickly realized that was not the path she wanted to take. She expressed interest to several friends about seeking training in catering, and they referred her to St. Peter’s. Currently, she is in her first year of a three- year program. She now sells random marketable items in order to pay for her education. She desires to complete her certification and be an example to other women in her situation.

The women of St. Peter’s may  have tragic pasts, but their courage, coupled with their faith, carry them to a future of healing and prosperity. Mrs. Wurie and St. Peter’s teachers provide a safe environment and offer the encouragement these brave women need to enhance their lives. The students empower each other,while enhancing their personal, spiritual, and educational lives. The students find the strength to face each day and the charisma to smile through their pain. Each student is truely living in hope!




(Barrels of Hope International, Inc. is a 501 (a) organization and is treated as tax exempt by the IRS. The organization is not required to file for 501 (c)(3) exemption until the charity’s gross receipts exceeds $5,000.00. The charity’s tax identification number is 27-4441054).

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