Annie is determined not to give up, but life is hard for her and her five children, who live together in a small rented room in Liberia. But when Annie received an invitation to join a local community group, things started to turn around.
Annie felt heartbroken and alone after her husband’s death. She had five young children to look after, but her in-laws were unwilling to help her financially or allow her to stay in the home she had shared with her husband.
The family were forced to move into a small rented room. Every day, Annie went to the local market to sell fresh peppers. However, the money she earned could barely stretch to feeding all the children, as well as paying rent and school fees.
Life was incredibly hard for Annie, but she stayed strong for her children, and was determined to help them get the education she never received.
A fresh start
Annie found support and friendship in a community group run by Equip, one of Tearfund’s local partners. Journey to Healing was set up to support women who have been through distressing experiences.
The team share Biblical reflections and lead discussions about how to hold onto hope during tough times. Annie made new friends and started to heal from the rejection she had faced from her family.
The group also provides training for practical skills such as soap making.
Annie learned fast, and started to make and sell her own products in the neighbourhood. This extra source of income was life-changing for Annie, who no longer had to continually worry about money.
One day, Annie woke up unable to move her left side. She had experienced a stroke and was left paralysed on one side of her body.
Unable to afford medical care, Annie’s 17-year-old daughter stayed home to care for her. The stroke left Annie disabled and no longer able to work. This meant that all of Annie’s children had to drop out of school as she could no longer afford to pay the fees.
‘Life is unbearable and I am feeling worthless,’ shares Annie.
Annie’s landlord was threatening to evict her, and she couldn’t afford to put a meal on the table. She was also still in desperate need of medical support to recover from her stroke.
Road to recovery
Then, just a few weeks later, the coronavirus pandemic hit. New restrictions meant that the family became even more isolated, and selling at the markets was not even an option.
Fortunately, Equip had launched an emergency coronavirus response and was able to provide Annie and her family with food and hygiene supplies. In addition, Annie’s community group was able to give her some financial support, and helped her get to the hospital to receive the care she needed.
Getting back to normal may take a while, but Annie is comforted by the knowledge that she is not alone. She knows her community group is looking out for her, and feels like she has a new family she can turn to in times of need.
‘My children and I are so happy that we have food on our table and I was able to seek medication for the first time since my illness.’ says Annie. ‘I felt loved because since I felt sick, you are the first person to identify with me. For this, I am grateful.’
Despite many setbacks in her life, especially this year, Annie now has hope for the future. ‘I pray for the best, especially that my health will be restored,’ she says.