Wanda: I was married for 27 years and, I could have said no, but my husband got me hooked on crack. We moved down here from Virginia to Georgia because he had a job transfer. The drugs got worse. I ended up returning to Virginia because I was getting brutally beat by my husband . My daughter stayed here and she got pregnant at sixteen. 

So, I moved back to Atlanta to be with her. I found the crack again after being clean for 9 months. It felt so good when I was sober. 

My daughter became ill with diabetes real bad and she moved home to be with my mother. My parents are poor and couldn’t afford to take care of both of us so I stayed in Atlanta. I had to learn how to date, prostitute and stuff. I was still doing the drugs, looking like a zombie. 

So, I got a call, about a year ago. It was when we had that ice storm. It was a call telling me that my daughter had passed away. 

I went home for the funeral and there was a letter that my daughter had never mailed to me. She had written it 3 days before she died. It said, “Mom, if something happens to me, know that I still love you. I just want you to change your life. Don’t do no more prostitution or drugs." 

I ended up coming back to Atlanta. I stayed awake for 9 days, smoking crack, mourning my daughter’s death. I was almost dead. I had a friend, Lele, that stays here, come up and tell me that she had a dream. In the dream, my daughter asked her to tell me to stop doing what I was doing. It was really weird because she never knew my daughter.  

Lele prostituted and did drugs too. We chose to look at each other and say "we’re not gonna do it anymore.” From that day on, the Lord has blessed me. He gave me a job and I worked for almost a year. It closed down last week or I’d still be working there.  I’ve been clean now for eleven months *tearful smile*

BW: Congratulations. 

Wanda: I guess the reason that I’m telling you this is because I want my daughter to hear that I’m telling this story. God is good. He has helped me and I’m still struggling. 

Lele really helped change my life. She didn’t even know my daughter and she came to me with that dream. She’s still doing really good too. She’s a beautiful person. She knows, if she needs something, I’ll give her anything I have and she’ll do the same for me. There’s been times when one of us really wanted crack and we sit there and cry together and help each other get through it. It’s a struggle. I wish other people could find each other like we did.

BW: I really admire you for being able to stay sober while you’re out on the streets, especially in this neighborhood.

Wanda:  It’s so hard. I’m telling you. Even sitting here right now I want it. I just know I can’t do it.