Esther is 18 years old and grew up in the village of Mudaka, where the sewing school opened in 2010. Her mom is single and handicapped, an incredibly difficult life in the DRC because there are no services to assist her. When Esther was 12, her mom sent her to work as a nanny to support the family.

Esther supported her mom and younger brothers for six years. Last year, she ran away from the family she was working for and became a student at the sewing school. Her mother tried to force her to go back, but Esther refused. She is now living with one of the sewing school teachers.

Life is very difficult for Esther, having no family support. Now that she has graduated, she has started her own sewing business and can support herself.

Esther’s story is tragic but not unusual. Each of the students has some such story to share … and each graduate has a story of hope because of the freedom they have upon graduation.

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