Victoria grew up in a Christian home in Kampala, Uganda with her single mom and sister. “I had a happy childhood and God-fearing mom,” Victoria said. “She wanted us to fear God and respect God more than her.”
In 2005 after her mom passed away from cancer, Victoria started to think about furthering her education in the United States. A few years later she applied for a visa and moved to the San Fernando Valley. She knew a man from Uganda that also lived in the Valley; they reunited and married.
Victoria and her husband were married for several years and had two daughters together. Her husband was in the Army and when he was deployed to Iraq, their relationship started to change. “Life got strange and hard,” she said. “He stopped communicating with me.” Her husband stopped sending money to Victoria, and when he did come back there was infidelity, as well as financial and verbal abuse.
Life continued to get more difficult for Victoria and her daughters. “He left us. At one point I was just looking for what we could eat,” Victoria said. “He emptied all the accounts and left us with nothing.”
Victoria found herself alone with no money to pay rent or all the bills he left in her name. The only thing she knew to do was pray. “I called my sister and pastor,” she said. “We prayed and he (her pastor) told me about the shelter.” Victoria was hesitant to go to the Mission. “I had heard bad stories about shelters and was really scared.”
Victoria had reached hopelessness. “I was too sad to think a good thing could happen again, especially to a homeless girl in a foreign country.” Yet, when she and her two daughters arrived at the shelter her opinion quickly changed. “I found the most loving, calm people there that genuinely wanted to know my story and help me. Right then and there they made an impact on me.”
The shelter’s staff love and comfort gave Victoria’s heart time to heal. “I was grieving the end of my marriage and being homeless,” she said. “It was great to hear someone say they wanted to talk with me. If I was crying, someone would play with my kids and just listen to me.”
After many years of abuse and abandonment, Victoria was refreshed and renewed. “God was giving me a river in the desert—my very own Isaiah 43: 18-19—that’s the only way to describe it.” The Mission gave Victoria the resources to secure housing and even furniture. “I am so grateful for all that the donors give,” she said.
Victoria knew she needed a job, so once again she prayed. “God told me, ‘You were looking for solutions, but I am the solution.’” After many prayers, she applied for a job at the Mission and now she is currently serving as Shelter Staff. “This is more than a job. It is my ministry,” she said. “I get to pray and offer a welcoming smile.”
That first day when Victoria walked into the shelter with her daughters she could not imagine that happiness would be part of their lives again. “God has given back our smiles! We laugh and our faces have changed. I just cannot even believe it."