At our staff meeting for the Self-Sustainability (sewing) Program, on September 1, I announced that we would not take any more women into the sewing program until January 2009. An hour after our meeting was over, Sarah, our head counselor, met me and told me to sit down.
After our staff meeting, Sarah had met with various women who needed to see her. Three stood out:
Tina*, an HIV+ woman in her 40s had recently been laid off from her job as a clerk at the university. She really wanted to join the sewing program because she has no other means of income at this time. She has been without work for 15 months. It is extremely difficult to find a job in Nigeria.
The next woman who came, Janet*, is someone Sarah knew years ago. Sarah described her as being very well-off and pleasantly plump when she knew her in the past. Sarah was surprised to see how emaciated the woman is now. Janet was never able to have children, and when she became sickly due to HIV complications, her relations decided to send her home to the village to die. But Janet wasn’t ready to die. She had heard of Mashiah Foundation and she was determined to come and learn how to sew so she could feed herself.
Then a disabled woman named Nancy* met with Sarah. Nancy’s wheelchair is in need of repair. For the meantime she gets around on her hands. She too has HIV. She survives by selling local brew in her neighborhood. A friend who is HIV+ told her about Mashiah Foundation. Although Nancy will not be able to use a treadle sewing machine, we have some other projects that she can do such as beading.
As I listened to Sarah narrate these three stories, I just smiled, and said, “God, what are you up to?” We make our own plans, but God has the final say. I was strongly convinced that we are not to close our doors at this time. Four months is a long time for someone to wait when they are already despairing of life. Instead of closing our doors, we have decided to keep our doors open, knowing that that is what Christ would do.
*names have been changed