Saturday, July 02, 2016

Equipping Young Women with Life Skills

"Before I came to the Center, I didn't know anything.  Now I can read, I can write, I know all kinds of sewing, I know how to live with my husband, and I know how to take care of my children."  One of the five graduates of a Women's training center, run by a local church, gave this testimony during their graduation ceremony.

I went to the graduation as part of my "Director-for-the-summer" duties, but I was glad I went.  The center was opened to help young ladies, most of whom have not had a chance to go to school or who dropped out while still in primary school.  The government is really promoting education for girls, but the sad reality is that they are often needed at home to do chores.  Many also marry early, another thing the government is working to change.  Some marry as young as 14 or younger; in my experience, most of the girls I've known have married around age 16.  So one of the churches opened this center to teach young ladies how to sew so that they can have a tailor shop and to knit so that they can make baby things to sell.  

They also teach them to read and write so that they can better run their own businesses by being able to write receipts, send and receive text messages, etc. They may even advance enough in their reading to be able to read for enjoyment! Each day the girls hear Bible stories, sing Christian songs, and are prayed for.  Nobody is forced to convert, but the Gospel is clearly presented.  Lessons are also taught that equip them to be better wives and mothers.  Many of the young ladies come to the center with babies tied to their backs.  They are able to learn all of these skills while nursing a baby or jostling them to sleep on their backs.  

There were five graduates, each of which received a diploma and a sewing machine with which to work in a tailoring shop, or even to open their own shop. 


One of the girls was so overcome with emotion that they had to help her up to the front to get her diploma.  I don't know what all was in her heart and mind, but I think it came to her how much she had been helped by the center and how much she would miss the other girls and the teachers.

Other girls were recognized for their comportment, their hard work, their faithfulness in attending, etc.  

A pastor gave a message, of which I understood almost nothing as it was in Hausa. :)  Different people in the audience were called up to give diplomas.  They called me up, but got my name wrong and somebody else thought it was them and went up.  They all apologized profusely afterwards for overlooking me and that I didn't get to present a diploma.  Really, it was ok. 

The five graduates all wore matching cloth and I imagine they made their outfits themselves.  (The girls in orange and blue....sorry that you can't really see them all.)  

There are several other centers around the city doing a similar work with young ladies, trying to give them an advantage in life that they often don't have, while presenting the Gospel at the same time.


Deb said...

What an amazing time you must have had. Proud of all the Lord accomplishes in lives that are given the opportunity.

Deb said...

What an amazing time you must have had. Proud of all the Lord accomplishes in lives that are given the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog every day for about 3-4 years now and really enjoy it, but this story brought me to tears.
“Now I can read, I can write, I know all kinds of sewing, I know how to live with my husband, and I know how to take care of my children."
The sewing machine was an amazing invention and has opened up the world up for many. It did for me. For some reason I’ve been being attacked - like sewing is a shameful thing, although I am currently sewing some baby gowns for a hospital in Africa for a nurse from my home state. When I’ve sat down to sew on them, I’ve been feeling so ashamed, like I'm still playing with a child’s toy or something and that I'm not worth much. (I am an older person. My disabilities keep me from being around people so I had no one to bounce these feelings off of.)
But when reading your post, tears of thankfulness to God for my sewing machine flowed out and keeps flowing every day I read your blog article. I grew up in a severely abusive home, and the sewing machine was the only thing God gave me, besides a realness of Him, my Bible, and a joy in washing dishes and doing laundry, that gave me a sense of being a person who could do something successfully. Otherwise, my world was shattered with crippling life-long effects emotionally that affect me to this day.
Thank you so much for this blog. Yesterday I went out to sew again, and thought of the words in the blog, that ‘I know how to live with my husband’, because I was doing a creative sewing project for him, something that made him happy. This morning I read the blog again, and decided I just had to thank you because tears keep filling my eyes.
Thank you for blogging so regularly. It’s hard to find missionaries who do.
A very appreciative reader.

Hannatu said...

Dear Anonymous,
I don't know who you are, and I don't need to know. But your post brought tears to MY eyes. And to think that a small ministry in Niger has had a positive impact on you all the way across the ocean and without ever knowing it. I think you can understand the girl who was so overcome by emotion that she could hardly get up to receive her certificate.
Please know that to our Father you are gorgeous, well-loved, and that you will always be treated gently by Him. I think He takes great delight in your sewing and creativity.
I'm so touched and blessed that God used this post to encourage you. You keep right on doing what you can do well and do it with all your heart as unto the Lord!
Nancy (Hannatu)

Rachel Jantzen said...

I was overwhelmed with tears too. I take my sewing skills for granted most of the time. I will look for young women in my circle here in Canada who could benefit from this skill too.
Thanks for all your blogging.