At 26 years old, Juliet radiates enthusiasm as she sits under a bright yellow umbrella waiting for mobile money customers. From a distance, one cannot see the physical or inner scars she hides beneath her gorgeous smile and stylish hairdo. Juliet lost her mother when she was only one, and a few years later, she lost her father too. She was raised by an aunt who harshly punished her. After primary seven, Juliet ran away from home to Kampala City to live with a brother. She met a boy, who later caused unimaginable pain to her young life.
It was a peaceful night with bright stars adorning the sky. Juliet was looking forward to a restful sleep. After dinner, she stepped out of the house to go to the toilet. She was startled to see her ex-boyfriend and father of her older child standing together outside. She was terrified his threats might become reality as a couple days before, he had tried to strangle her. She reported the matter to the police, but did not have the $4 required for her to have a statement recorded. If she had, Juliet probably would have gone unharmed that night. Instead, without warning, her ex-boyfriend poured acid on her face. While attempting to run away, the acid dripped to the floor, she slipped, and it burned the entire right side of her body. Excruciating pain spread throughout as she screamed for help. “It was too much pain, it’s hard for me to describe,” said Juliet. She was only 17.
Juliet was in agony in Mulago, Uganda’s referral hospital, for six months. The perpetrator did not pay for his crime and walked away free. Nonetheless, she matched hatred, stigma and despair with forgiveness, confidence and hope. It’s fitting that when she joined BeadforLife one year later, she became a member of “Suubi” Group, meaning “hope.” Juliet quickly got very busy creating beautiful jewelry, saving her earnings for a business.
Sadly, business was challenging for Juliet. After her graduation in 2010, she bought a second-hand motorcycle taxi, commonly known as a “bodaboda.” It did not do well, as it spent most of the time at the mechanic. She later sold it and tried farming, but the season did not go well and she lost her investment capital.
Suffice to say, Juliet is still going strong. She recently started a mobile money business in Mutundwe Town and hopes and prays it will succeed. In the past month, she earned a commission of $15. In addition, she sells shoes and crafts that help her raise school fees for Linda, her youngest daughter. “I have gained experience working at different businesses and I now know how to avoid losses,” said Juliet. She plans to get a loan, increase her mobile money capital, and purchase a rack to display shoes and crafts in front of her mobile money business.
Juliet is not about business alone…she is helping start a non-profit organization called Forum for Acid victims. She shares her story of agony and discrimination with other acid survivors. By participating in this capacity, she hopes to create awareness, share knowledge and best practices. Juliet is gaining ground and taking her life back bit by bit!