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Stories of Hope

FORTUNATE: Turning Hard Times into Blessings

Fortunate's journey is one of determination and success. She overcame challenges, pursued cosmetology, and found her passion in baking. Today, her thriving bakery business reflects her resilience and faith, with a mission to empower others.

I first met Fortunate at a humanitarian distribution event in Vuvulane, a backward rural community serving mainly sugarcane plantation employees.  She lived in a one room structure the size of a kitchen with a bedroom and a tattered mattress in the hallway.  Her mother, who confessed to being a trafficker, used the one bed. Fortunate slept in the hallway. Upon visiting the home, her mother said, “ I am a dead person. These are your children.”

The relationship with SOHO was complex.  Fortunate did well at school and was an excellent student, but she struggled with homework because there was no electricity for light where she lived. She would join SOHO when there were visitors, leading the children in songs with her sister, Promise.

At one time, she reported being chased at night. A SOHO sponsor  provided support for a boarding school. Fortunate particularly liked Home Economics at school and was proud of her scones. The boarding school experience was not a positive one, so the girls returned to Vuvulane. SOHO provided food parcels at the end of the month to supplement what was provided.  

The highlight of her life was the periodic visits of the SOHO USA teams. During those times,  she joined several other children to spend the weekend with Mrs. Prime, enjoying mothering and life skills counseling.

When asked about her career plans, Fortunate always responded: “ I want to be a Doctor”. She was teased for spending time reading a Thesaurus. Life changed when she confessed that she was pregnant due to forced sex. The father of the child was repentant and tried to accompany her to a clinic, but was threatened by his father and thereafter had nothing to do with her.

A donor provided sponsorship support for the child, but fear about the future places her. She changed schools. As frequently happens with rape victims, she was persuaded by another high school student that he cared and would help her. A second consensual pregnancy left her distraught.

She became determined to become a successful businesswoman and to support herself. She also began counseling girls against allowing boys to force them into sex or to be persuaded by them to indulge. She got a license in cosmetology and began using her skill in braiding and styling hair. Even while earning an income by doing nails and hair, she pursued her passion for baking.  Culinary arts ignited in her the same passion she had for science. She studied photos and began making specialty cakes, all self-taught.

Today, she has a growing baking business and is seeking ways to expand. “ I trust God to give me strength,” she says. “Even when things in life turn out bad, He can help you to make a new start and to become successful.”  She hopes to grow her bakery business, so that she could hire and train girls to learn culinary skills and to work with her. God is helping Fortunate to turn life’s hard times into blessings for others.