Artisan Update: Alphonsine
Alphonsine, an artisan at DuHope, has had one of the most incredible transformations of our artisans to date. As is true of all our artisans, she came from a background of financial instability, desperation, trauma, and resignation. Coming into the DuHope program, she was initially reluctant to leave the “stability” of sex work. Now, she is well on her way to starting her own business, having registered her business in June of this year. Her self-motivation and mindset shift has been an inspiration.
Our artisans come to us at a time when they primarily need a stable source of income. They have often experienced trauma and do not believe they deserve a dignified life. Our artisans often arrive with tentative or no trust in the benefits of the program for them. Through the development of their mind, body, and spirit, these vulnerable women learn that they are capable of doing so much more than engaging in sex work to earn a living. For some, this shift in mindset happens relatively quickly; they are able to leave sex work and open up to the idea that they can develop themselves beyond DuHope. For others, they see their work at DuHope as simply a second source of income, not seeing the importance of leaving sex work, which has been their primary source of income for so long. At DuHope, these women are the hardest to reach.
Before coming to DuHope, Alphonsine was an alcoholic and survival sex worker. She would spend most nights on the street soliciting sex and would have multiple partners each day. Her reputation in the community suffered as they learned of her sex work. She has two children, though the father of her children chose not to live with them.
Alphonsine was among those in the cohort who was not as willing to give up sex work. She would finish work at DuHope at 1:00PM to supplement her income with sex work. She would often come to work drunk. Over time, she began to mentally and emotionally decline.
Remarkably, after three years of sessions on personal growth, budgeting, entrepreneurship, and saving, she became motivated to pull herself up and see her worth. She began saving money, in the hopes that she would make a better future for herself. She now has the financial, entrepreneurial, and personal skills to start a business on her own; supplementing her income with a registered, dignified profession. In the next few weeks and months, she will be working as an agent for a telecommunications company, a pursuit that she has begun on her own with her own savings.
Alphonsine’s journey gives us hope that our artisans, even those who appear to be unwilling to leave sex work, can find motivation and confidence through our program to secure stable professions even beyond DuHope.
*Alphonsine has given us permission to use her name but has asked to not show her face in photos. She has given us permission to use the photo above. The yellow vest is notifying clients she is a mobile money agent.