The smell of smoke.
A raid was happening.
When 7-year-old Winnie returned to her home after visiting her sister in town, she found a demolished village and the bodies of her parents. The raiders kidnapped and trafficked her youngest brother. In one horrific night, everything was destroyed. Winnie and her few surviving siblings had no parents, shelter, community, school, food, or water.
As a young girl, with no protection, in a warzone, Winnie was at extreme risk of becoming a human trafficking victim — something far too common in South Sudan.
With their community in ruins, Winnie and her siblings had to start over. Her older brothers and sisters knew life would never be the same for their youngest sibling. Winnie not only lost the daily love from her parents, but the raid took away her access to education.
After months of struggling, when Winnie’s brother heard about Lift Up the Vulnerable’s (LUV) safe homes and schools, he knew he had found hope for her future. Winnie began her healing journey at Hope For South Sudan (HFSS), LUV’s partner on the border of Uganda.
When I came here, I felt new to the place and cried because I didn’t know anybody. But when I got to know the children here we started life together, and I felt good. We stayed together, we played together, and the new life became okay.
Winnie struggled with the trauma of loss, but she slowly found comfort in her surroundings’ safety.
With Winnie’s needs provided for through LUV’s protection, education, and economic development programs, she could finally flourish. She worked hard to catch up in school and began to love education.
Winnie, for the first time in her life, was able to be a child. The freedom and safety to play revealed a new talent that would change her life.
Soccer became Winnie’s outlet for processing her horrific memories.
I love football [soccer] so much. It makes me forget all the fears I had before. I feel so good.
HFSS’s soccer coach, David, noticed Winnie’s natural skill and gifted ability to bring people together. He saw she had the makings of a soccer star and a bold leader.
Coach David, just like all of LUV’s indigenous partners, is passionate about empowerment and knew Winnie could go far in life. He began organizing tournaments with local teams to help grow the students’ skills. Winnie shined in these tournaments and was recruited to play for a competitive regional soccer club.
After much hard work, Winnie helped lead her team to victory at a country-wide tournament in Juba, the capital city.
Winnie even scored the winning goal! She shared that this was something she had never imagined for her future.
While Winnie dreams of playing professional soccer, she also has a few other goals she would like to achieve.
When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer so that people will be accountable on how they do things in South Sudan, and it will be a transformed country.
Just a few years ago, Winnie was an orphan vulnerable to exploitation, but with the support of partners like you, she is on her way to transforming her nation. Winnie wants to ensure no one goes through the loss she experienced and all children will have hope and know Christ’s restoring love.
There are thousands of orphans in warzones whose lives have been disrupted by violence and are impacted by human trafficking.
LUV exists to prevent the trafficking and oppression of vulnerable children and women and empower them to be changemakers in their own lives and communities. With your help, kids like Winnie can flourish through LUV’s protection, education, and economic development programs.
This year, will you partner with Winnie and LUV to prevent human trafficking in warzones and provide hope for the world’s most vulnerable children? When you do, your gift will be matched up to $150,000 during a generous year-end matching gift opportunity.