I have quite a story to tell you in this newsletter about the girls in one of our Safe Homes. But before I get to that, let me share about the photo above. These women are rejoicing that they are able to provide for their children, no longer feeling the pressure to “send them away.” This is all thanks to ORR’s Micro-finance Program that has helped them to start their own businesses and become self sufficient. We celebrate with them! It is one of the many encounters we had during our recent trip to Benin.
While at the Safe Home for girls in Benin last month, I went around the circle asking each young lady what their greatest joy and their greatest hardship was, in the last few months since I had last seen them. It was sweet to notice a few of the girls smiling and super excited to tell me something. I quickly picked one of them to begin.
The first young lady to speak, shared that she and two other girls, who were smiling from ear to ear, are skipping a grade in school this year! They were quite proud of themselves and could not wait to tell me.
This accomplishment is amazing for any student on our program, but particularly for these young ladies who came to us with all odds against them. When these girls were rescued, each one of them were between nine and eleven years old, and they told us their dream was to attend school like every other girl their age. They just wanted to feel normal and to have a healthy future. We totally agreed with that goal for them, yet were faced with huge challenges because of the circumstances of what they had come from. They had been beaten daily and mistreated on every level while being used as slaves. Nothing had been normal about their life.
Anna (not her real name) was only nine when she came on our program. She had forgotten Fon, her native language, because she had been sold to someone in another country. First, we had to get her a tutor in order for her to relearn Fon (and regain a sense of belonging with the people of her birthplace), as well as learn the national language of French, so that she could attend school.
Then, through counseling from our in-country national staff, long hours of hard work, tutoring, and the time that Anna put into studying, we were able to enroll her into school one year after coming onto our program.
Now its been five years, and it is amazing to hear how these girls have progressed. They take school very seriously, knowing where they began and how far they’ve come.
Going back to my second question about their greatest hardship, each girl said the same thing. “We have nothing to complain about, our life is so good now.” They are making us so proud as they are not wasting their days wallowing in their past, but are looking forward, and working towards their new healthy future.
By providing rescued girls with choices of Apprenticeship Programs, some chose to pursue careers as seamstresses. Now graduated and working to become independent, we hired them to sew table runners for our upcoming Gala. This was a boost to their business and income. These accomplished and talented ladies are succeeding because of your help.
Oh! We love to share the good news of how the children’s and families’ lives are being impacted by the work of Orphan Relief and Rescue, through your generous support. Another wonderful report is how we were able to celebrate the opening of our new well in one of the villages where we work. The people had to walk for miles for clean drinking water before this well was dug. Thanks to Bethany Pentecostal Church in Port Angeles, Washington, who donated this amazing gift.
All of these amazing things are being accomplished because of people such as yourselves who are choosing to help us with these beautiful efforts. We can’t say Thank You, enough!