A group of women were being ostracized and driven out of their community for being believers. They were persecuted by neighbors, refused a place to worship, forbidden from speaking up in group decisions about the community and excluded from taking part in food distributions organized by outside aid organizations. Village leaders also refused to acknowledge their children as members of the tribe because they did not participate in certain animistic rituals.
Rice is the main food group of the village, but this group of women were forced to walk seven kilometers on a daily basis to the nearest rice mill. The journey was often unsafe, and their children were left unattended. The women had no means of income to care for their children and desperate when they approached Send Relief partners to discuss a solution.
Our leaders responded with the idea of building a rice mill just for the women, and the project was quickly underway.
Upon completion, the rice mill was immediately put under the direction and oversight of a women’s committee and now operates daily. The ladies are incredibly thankful to be freed from the burden of making a daily journey or having to pound the rice by hand, giving them more time to focus on their children and other priorities.
In a redemptive turn of events, the women decided to share this new mill with the very community leaders and neighbors who had shunned them. Soon, the mill began servicing four different villages and other tribe leaders were trekking 3-5 kilometers to have their rice processed.
Even more astonishing—when COVID-19 hit, the women used some of the funds to purchase bleach and soap and to set up handwashing stations to ensure the community stayed healthy during the ongoing crisis.
This testimony of care and reconciliation moved the entire village and prompted leaders to advocate for the women, granting them a church to worship in the town center after years of refusing to even acknowledge their presence. They are now considered, once again, valuable members of the community, despite their religious differences. Moved by the consistency of their love for their neighbors and stewardship of the mill’s resources, elders eventually invited a number of the women to join the local government.
The women have been so successful in their upkeep of the rice mill that they are now able to employ others to work there and, every time a Send Relief partner visits, they insist on feeding them a new rice dish as thanks.
Pray for this group of trailblazing ladies to continue to grow in favor with their village leaders as they manage the mill well, and pray for this project to bear fruit and see many villagers come to know Christ.
Give to support more community support projects like this one at sendrelief.org/give.
Published November 7, 2020