She was just another woman at my gate, tired, thin, and hungry looking.
"Help me," she begged, handing me her medical records.
"I'm hungry. My son is hungry." She motions to the child hiding behind her skirts, his belly protruding from his too-small shirt.
"I've been sick and haven't had the strength to work for three days. Can you give me food?"
I hesitate, my hand on the gate. Another woman, another decision. I look down at her worn medical book, the pages full of a history of illness. There it is again, those letters I see almost daily since moving here: HIV+ And the child? Also positive.
I glance up and our eyes meet.
What can I do?
A plan has been in the works for several weeks. A plan that we believe is God-orchestrated to help women just like this one. But it seems too soon...I don't feel prepared. Yet here she is. And she is hungry and sick now. Prepared or not, she must be the first.
I open the gate wide and usher her inside.
Her name is Adoc, and she continues to be the most obstinate and fiery of our Akiru women. Since that first day, Adoc has been a faithful and hard worker with Akiru. Throughout our many experiments and growing pains she has bloomed and flourished. What for me was a random encounter with a needy woman was, according to her, "God's plan".
"God led me to your gate that day, no one told me where to go. God used you to give me work and to help me take care of my son. Now I know that God loves me and cares for me."
Akiru exists because we believe that God loves the hurting. He is a "stronghold for the oppressed" (Psalm 8:9), a "helper of the fatherless" (Psalm 11:14), and He "does not forget the cry of the afflicted" (Psalm 8:12).
This small business initiative is an effort to create income for the most vulnerable women in our community, including widows, those living with HIV, disabilities, and addictions. We know that no amount of money can fix our problems, and so the heart of Akiru is to lead women into a deep relationship with Jesus. In doing so we hope to create among our women a subculture of love, self-sacrifice, honesty, loyalty, and hard work.
We believe that God is interested in all areas of our lives, and strive to model and teach life skills such as financial planning and household management as well as character development through Bible study.
Just as we who live in Karamoja, Uganda, pray for much needed Akiru or rain for our crops, we pray for God's spirit to be poured out like rain on the women we live and work among.
They don't complain much, it's just their lot in life.
It's a little different than we Americans are used to, and I struggle with the injustice of it all. My heart is moved with compassion for these women. It aches with them as they bury their babies and struggle through malaria and typhoid. I long to be able to bring lasting change to their difficult lives.
But I believe that slowly, day by day, change is coming.
It will take time and prayer and long hours and lots of wisdom, but it's coming.
All profits go to paying our women's salaries and buying supplies.
If you are interested in selling Akiru journals in your store, business, or your church, please contact me!