I met Moses this week.
His eyes danced with joy as he recounted story after story of transformation in the lives of people in Mbale, Uganda. Moses is the Area Program Manager.
But one story stood out.
A bright, elementary-aged girl became sullen and withdrawn. Her teachers’ concern increased when the child confided that her parents were pressuring her to marry. They desperately wanted one less mouth to feed.
Food for the Hungry staff encouraged the little girl to tell her parents she was not yet prepared for marriage. They supported her and helped her secure a place in a trade school where she learned to sew.
Upon completion of her program, and still elementary age, the push to marry returned. Once again, FH staff coached her on how to address her parents and connected her with a local seamstress. The child worked diligently at learning all aspects of the work, including the financial dealings.
Around age 17 this young woman, with the coaching and encouragement of Food for the Hungry staff, bought her own sewing machine and struck out on her own. Today she has a flourishing business. She is not yet married.
And Moses beamed at her success.
There are so many elements to this story that make my heart sing.
This child’s courage to stand against her parent’s strong wishes inspires. Throughout Moses’ recounting he emphasized how respectful she remained in relationship with her mom and dad all the while maintaining her resolve not to marry. She was likely ten or eleven years old. Such bravery.
And resilience. Obstacles abounded for this young one and yet she worked hard and found a way…but not alone. The coaching and care she received from FH staff empowered her to stand strong and see options in the midst of dark times. They believed in her and she, in turn, believed in new possibilities for her own life.
And she is achieving them. This young teen honed her entrepreneurial spirit in a safe place, watching and gleaning all she could from her seamstress mentor. At the right time and with the support of good people, she branched out. Again, such bravery.
This scenario played out in Uganda but I find myself asking how can this work be done in Canada as well? We have different issues but the principles are universal. People need others to believe in them, provide them with options rather than solving their problems for them. In short, we need our dignity preserved, even in the bleakest of times.
So I’m asking, who can I mentor today? Who will I walk alongside and invest my time and energy in to help increase their ability to move ahead?
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst