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My name is Stella

"I am blind, but I can work for myself."

Stella Keji Edwards is a 30-year-old program participant in Sobe, South Sudan. She resides in the Luzira residential area as an internally displaced person (IDP), and she is originally from Lainya County in the Central Equatoria State of the country. She is a mother to two girls aged 7 and 10 years old, and she lives with a visual impairment.

Stella tells WfWI she was married while blind in only one eye, however she later went completely blind after the birth of her second daughter. According to Stella, her husband tried to restore her sight in the previous years before her second daughter's birth, but when all efforts failed, he took her to a hospital in Uganda to remove her second eye and replace it with an artificial eyeball. 

Not long after she fully lost her sight, her husband passed away and she became a widow. During the South Sudan conflict, her family members and her elder daughter left to a refugee camp in Uganda leaving Stella behind in Lainya. She explained she decided to relocate due to the heavy fighting in Lainya between 2017 and 2018 that resulted in her losing all her property. Her brothers supported her migration to Luzira, Yei River County about 35 miles from Lainya. While in Luzira, Stella's brother decided to abandon her and her younger daughter, disappearing to another location in South Sudan. She completely lost contact with him at that time. 

Stella did not get any support from her neighbors or relatives living in Yei, and she had no one to communicate or move with but her daughter who acted as her aide. According to Stella, more than five NGOs went to her home to learn about her IDP situation and offer some support, but all were in vain until she was enrolled into the WfWI program. It was then that her life hit a turning point. 

After the first module on women’s solidarity, Stella experienced the presence of other women supporting her. She was proud of WFWI including the letters she wrote to new sisters that she never had in her lifetime. 

When WFWI trainers asked her how she accesses difficult locations, and she said she uses her strong senses to direct her when she's alone. She said in some instances community members support her while fetching water, taking her goods to the market, taking her to her WFWI training, or just joining her for a chat. 

Stella is now hopeful of her life again despite displacement from her area of origin.