Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Place for Women

This country can be a very harsh place for women. From the time girls are young they are put to work, often not having the opportunity to go to school. If girls do enroll in school, they often do not make it past a 6th grade level. Culturally, girls here are very timid and submissive. They would never think to say "no" to a man who tries to take advantage of them. If they become pregnant they have now embarrassed the family and are very often sent away from home and are not allowed to return. When a woman marries and has children, those children become the property of the father. If the father dies, his family can come and take the children if they choose and certainly they can take all of her belongings. If the woman remarries it is likely that this new husband will not accept her children and she will be forced to leave them with relatives or abandon them completely. Many times women will choose not to remarry because of this. Without remarrying a woman can find herself in a very uncomfortable situation. The family of her husband has an obligation to at the very least give her and her children a place to stay, but they often make her life miserable and do not help her in any other way. She usually cannot go back to her parents home because they cannot afford to help her and her children. Sometimes a family member will take her in, but will not accept the children. We have seen mothers leave their children in orphanages or in foster homes or on the streets because they are desperate and cannot care for them. Then there are women banished from their village, accused of witchcraft. This happens when misfortune or deaths occur and village elders need someone to blame and banish a women to "get rid of the problem". We see this usually with older widows, but sometimes with young mothers whose husband have left for neighboring countries looking for work.

Our hearts have been touched by the many stories of the vulnerable and disadvantaged women who we have met. There have been many women who have stayed in our clinic at the orphanage for a few days to a few months while social services seeks out their families and tries to find a place for them. We saw a need for a facility to help women in these situations. A facility that could be a place of refuge and a place of learning, where they could gain skills and be empowered to care for themselves and their children. Most importantly a place that would share with these women that their strength, refuge and hope comes from God. Out of this was born the idea for the Sheltering Wings Women's Crisis Center named "Village of Hope".

While sharing women's stories and the vision for this center, God moved in miraculous ways. We received funding for building facilities, for purchasing equipment for the technical center and for monthly operating expenses. People have partnered with us to change the lives of women and rewrite their futures.

The start of the wall being constructed. Now 95% complete.

Walls going up inside old classrooms to make bedrooms.
Murals being painted at entrance.

We have put up a wall, are renovating rooms, and have equipment on order. We are putting together a team of teachers and mentors and we are excited to see how God will use this place.

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