Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry


  • “…She selects…and works with eager hands.
  • …She gets up while it is still dark;
  • She provides food for her family…”
  • from Proverbs 31

Kay's Women's Ministry Project

Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry, a ministry of African Children’s Mission, is an encouragement, prayer and income-generation support group for widows and destitute women of rural and urban communities in Uganda.

Ranch Beading GroupGroups in the capital city of Kampala and in rural Nakasongola District, on and around Ekitangaala Ranch, make up Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry.  Some of the members in our area are mothers or grandmothers of ACM sponsored children.

For these women and their children life is an everyday struggle just for survival. 80% of the women suffer from a serious medical condition; many of which are in various stages of AIDS. Disabling diseases make physical labor impossible for most of the women. Hard work has been no stranger to these women since they were old enough to carry water or firewood with their mothers.

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All of them are caring for children, their own and orphans of their relatives. As mothers, some have watched their sick or dying child, helpless to do anything for them because they had no money for hospitalization or surgery. As a result of cultural tradition, 120 of the women were evicted from their homes when their husband died. Most of them live in huts made of sticks and mud or a single tiny room. They have all experienced days without food for themselves or their children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABefore joining Proverbs 31, those who are able to work did not make enough to support their basic needs, and some had no income at all. Proverbs 31 women meet together regularly to worship and give thanks to God, to encourage each other and pray for their needs, and to work on their handcrafts. The sale of their hand-woven baskets and recycled paper bead jewelry provides money for food, rent, medical care, and school fees. They use recycled magazines, posters, and picture wall calendars to create wearable works of art. Hunter Street Baptist Church helps by sending to the women unused worship guides and outdated posters for making beads.

Making a BraceletA member may be too weak to do heavy physical work, but creating surprisingly beautiful pieces of jewelry is work that she can do, and it provides badly needed income for all of the women and their families, enabling hundreds of women and children to afford critical basics such as food and medical care. Most of them live in inner-city slums in single-room hovels, or in dirt-floored, thatched-roofed mud huts in remote villages. The dream for many of them is a stable house of handmade mud bricks and tin roof.

Some of the widows of Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry and their children in rural Nakasongola District already live in their “dream home,” a two-room concrete block house made by Habitat for Humanity. Their monthly financial commitment is less than $12.00, but even that small amount is too much for them to pay without the income from the sale of their jewelry.

Besides the financial increase that the ministry makes possible, it provides a source of dignity for the women and their families. Excitement over the empowerment these women are experiencing is contagious. More of their widowed neighbors are joining the beading groups, both in the city and the remote villages. In the rural area surrounding our mission station even this small venture by a group of industrious women is helping to develop the community.

 

Some of Their Stories

When the widows of the rural community of Kakooge joined Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry they were very excited about learning to make paper bead jewelry. And, they were overjoyed to receive their envelopes containing the money they had earned from their first sale. Two of the women rejoiced with thanksgiving because they had not eaten in two days.

The women in Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry love and take care of each other.  Nora was hungry when she came to our mission station recently to sell her paper bead jewelry.  A few weeks before she had been paid for a large bundle of her necklaces, but before she could buy a single cabbage, potato, or piece of fruit, her earnings were stolen, leaving her and her children penniless again. When her group members learned of the theft, they got together and helped her make enough jewelry to replace the money she had lost.

It was the week that the members of Proverbs 31 were to deliver their beaded jewelry to the coordinator of the ministry’s eight groups that meet in various rural villages. But, one member’s daughter had been very sick, and the jewelry she made was not enough to pay the hospital bill. So, she stayed up all night, working by candlelight, cutting and rolling the paper beads to make twenty additional necklaces, which she sold, earning the needed money.

You will never meet a more joyful and hopeful group of women as the members of the Kampala group of Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry. Even though they have all lost their husbands to AIDS or other diseases, almost half of them are HIV positive, and many of them have no permanent place to live, their hearts are full of song, praise, and thanksgiving to God for His blessings in their lives! When they meet together they share their needs and support one another in prayer. Sometimes they work together on their paper bead jewelry. And sometimes they encourage each other by just having fun – joining in their various cultural dances, and dancing, singing, and laughing until they fall back into their chairs exhausted.

The members of Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry, their children and grandchildren, are not the only ones who benefit. We, the missionaries who are privileged to participate in the ministry with them, are greatly blessed by their courage and faith, their smiles and their songs, getting to know them, and allowing them to enrich our lives.

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