Ellen’s story

Trafficked & Imprisoned

Ellen* traveled to China in 2008 with plans to work in a hair salon. When she arrived, she was met with a reality far different from what she had envisioned. Traffickers forced Ellen onto the streets to sell her body and demanded that she smuggle drugs in Macau in order to pay off a never-ending debt.

Ellen endured a life of exploitation for over a year before she was arrested by Chinese authorities for overstaying her visa. She was imprisoned for six years and gave birth to her first child while incarcerated. At a time when many would feel helpless, Ellen persevered. Encouraged by regular visits from an organization that prayed for her and sent letters, Ellen focused on the future. From the darkness of a Chinese prison cell, she found hope. She found faith.

After serving her sentence, Ellen returned home to Uganda and joined Willow International’s aftercare program where Willow helped her heal from years of trauma. Ellen restored her independence and completed a vocational education in Interior Design and Decorating.

Today, she is the proud owner of a wedding decorating business and works as a part-time mentor to the girls in Willow’s aftercare homes. Her joy, her strength, and her commitment to fostering growth in others provide a light to everyone she meets. Ellen has shared that she hopes to expand her business in the coming years. And of course, she will continue helping other survivors find peace in the knowledge that there are people out there fighting for those who have yet to be rescued.

*Pseudonym to protect survivor’s identity

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