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Your Generosity in Action

God Sees Her

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In the West African culture in which we live, a woman without a husband is left exposed and vulnerable in life. She has no protector, no provider. There is also an element of shame, whether she is unmarried, a single mother, divorced, or a widow. Her children bear this same stigma in society. In fact, the word for “orphan” does not mean a child without parents; it means some- one without a father. A mother on her own doesn’t count as a parent. Often her children will either be taken away to be cared for by a relative, or she will have to leave her children in her home village and go to a larger city to look for work to provide for them.

A woman on her own is even more vulnerable to poverty if she has not attended school or had any skill training. The opportunities for her to survive are slim, and the opportunities for her to thrive as the head of her household are nearly nonexistent. While society ignores her, God sees her. He sees her pain, her loss, her fear, her grief, and her children. He holds their futures.

RELYING ON CHRIST

I first met Diatta* in 2013. She had been living here in the capital city for several years following the death of her husband. She had found difficult and irregular jobs that offered minimal pay but took them in hopes of sup- porting her three children in a village 10 hours south.

with her again before the oldest finishes school. Through my friendship with Diatta I learned more about what it is like to be a woman on her own in this culture. But I also learned through her example what it means to rely on Christ for everything. She is neglected in society because she is a widow, but even more so be- cause she is a believer.

A BUSINESS IS BORN

Four years ago, God brought together a woman with an idea, a woman with faith, and a woman with a skill. From this, a small handicraft business developed with a budget of about $200. God has blessed it tremendously, and now this business operates on a $35,000 budget, providing income for women at risk of poverty and their families; scholarships allowing 25 students to attend school each year; microloans for women running small businesses; and emergency health-care funds for widows and single mothers.

When this business started, Diatta also wanted to include a component of spiritual and social support for women of all faith backgrounds. The pain she suffered as an outcast following her husband’s death and having her children taken from her has been turned into a tool of reconciliation as she ministers to younger women who are walking the same path. The temptation to allow bitterness and anger to grow is strong, but Diatta chooses to walk in God’s love and protection over her.

This Alliance ministry in West Africa allows women to make their own money through providing “plarn” to a handicraft business, which makes these beautiful rugs. Right: Women are trained to search for reusable plastic bags on beaches and in landfills and turn them into plastic yarn, or “plarn.”

BLESSINGS MULTIPLIED

When the first case of COVID-19 arrived here, we decided to use the business’s income to support people in need around us and trust God to provide for the scholarships we would need to pay for the next year. For two months, all our sales went directly to emergency food funds. Our sales during that period far exceeded previous sales as people in our community chose to strengthen the effort through their purchases. These increased sales also meant that the women who create the handicrafts were able to earn more money during a time when most people around them were earning less. God saw these women, and He provided for them.

In 2021, we received a fundraising grant from The Alliance that will allow us to expand into a new project, using recuperated plastic from ocean waters and land- fills to make rugs and other decorative items. In early February, we launched our first training program led by Diatta with eight women in a nearby village.

The women were taught to identify the right kind of plastic left on beaches and in landfills, which they then will turn into plastic yarn (or “plarn”) to be used by the handicraft business to create rugs and other products that are sold in town. Diatta is using the skills she has learned, in conjunction with her heart for women and mothers in vulnerable positions, to be a blessing in her community and beyond.

I have seen how much God cares about each woman and child in our community. I am encouraged to think He loves my children and me just as much.

Our story here is unfinished, and it is not without its challenges. We have been betrayed by some of our own; passed over for opportunities due to favoritism; and seen women suffer at the hands of their own communities. But we have also seen God provide the ideas, connections, relationships, guidance, and blessing that only He can give. We choose to walk in that.

Our prayer is that even in positions of vulnerability, these women and their children will experience God’s love, grace, and protection that society has taken from them—and live out of a position of freedom in Christ in their day-to-day lives.

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