March 8th, 2015
Abandoned by her mother at the age of three, Corina struggled to complete elementary school. She lived with her father, but he became disabled after falling out of bed while intoxicated and could no longer work.
After elementary school, Corina worked to support herself. Her mother re-entered her life and Corina accompanied her to the local pier to sell goods when she was 12 years old. Tired, Corina ran away from her mother to the streets.
Some workers from a local shelter for children found Corina and invited her to stay with them. With their help she continued her education up until her last year of high school when she left the shelter for disciplinary reasons.
With few other options, Corina moved in with her mother. She managed to complete her last year of high school by working in the school cafeteria, but she was quick to leave her mother’s house after graduation.
Corina stayed with her aunt in a small lodge she operated, unaware the lodge was being used for trafficking. At the age of 16, Corina’s aunt convinced her to engage in sex work. For the next three years she recruited customers in the street and then brought them back to the lodge for sexual services in exchange for money.
One night when she was working in the lodge, a local undercover police officer, working in partnership with International Justice Mission, rescued Corina and three others, including one minor. Corina testified against her traffickers in court, and in November 2014 the owner of the lodge was sentenced to 40 years in prison and the two managers received life sentences.
After the rescue, Corina returned to the neighborhood where she grew up. She had little direction in life until her IJM social worker facilitated an opportunity for her to get a college scholarship to study social work.
However, without a family who could financially support her daily needs, struggle and hunger became familiar companions. Corina and her brother lived on $1.50 per day, racking up debt at neighborhood stores just to eat. Although determined and motivated, Corina wasn’t sure if she would finish college.
Once again, her IJM social worker intervened and referred her to Solid Ground International. SGI has been providing a safe home for Corina to complete her college education and to launch herself into long-term, independent living.
Corina says, “When I am at SGI, I feel my dreams are brighter. I’m more focused and happy. I was able to change my perspective—my view of life.”
She graduates from college this month as a strong, brave, free woman who relentlessly pursues success and who is motivated to help others in difficult situations do the same.