A story from Tanzania by Laura Kelly,
Depending on the context, that's either a big or a small number. In Tanzania, 10,000 shillings is the equivalent of $5.88 CND. You can buy 5kg of rice or a small bottle of mayo for that price. In our "Strength & Dignity" project, that's a big number - 10,000 reusable pads, to be exact.
Working in a less economically developed country has its challenges. It's not just building relationships with the locals, adjusting to the culture, and learning the language, but it's adopting a new set of rules, perspectives, and expectations. That's why I celebrate victories, no matter how big or small. And, distributing 5,000 books and bracelets, 4,000 pairs of underwear, and 10,000 reusable pads to 2,500 schoolgirls is a big one!
I often wonder what's next for these 2,500 girls, but I know God has a plan. I trust and believe these girls will continue to explore the world through their studies, will become godly leaders who will change the way girls and women are treated, and will know the love of their Creator.
Last month, we started project sessions at Kisundi Secondary School. As per usual, we met with the headmaster beforehand to learn about the school culture, the school schedule, and the school staff. I was surprised at how welcoming and encouraging the headmaster was of us and the project, but I quickly learned why.
Headmaster: I'm so happy you and your team are here.
Laura: Thank you for this warm welcome.
Headmaster: This is such an important project.
Theopister: We believe so, too.
Headmaster: There's a real problem here at this school.
Laura: What do you mean?
Headmaster: Last year, 6 schoolgirls became pregnant.
Laura: Oh wow.. that's so sad.
Headmaster: And, since January, another 7 girls have become pregnant.
Theopister: What a shame.
Headmaster:That's why I believe in your project so much.
Laura: Thank you for this opportunity.
Headmaster: You are most welcome at our school.
It was a heartbreaking conversation, but not a new kind of one. I'll never understand why someone would want to take advantage of a 12 year old girl. It's easy to become discouraged, but I find comfort in the headmaster's heart for these girls. He truly seems burdened by this current reality, which makes Theopister, Esther, and I even more determined to do what we can to help.
Your encouragement, prayers, and financial support make it possible for me to live and work in Mwanza, Tanzania. I'm humbled that so many of you want to be a part of this journey. I pray it's been an amazing journey for you, too!