Monday, January 12, 2009

Remembering our Crisis Victims

Today our HIV+ women met in a large group gathering for the first time this year. It is always such a joy to come back together.

When our staff met last week, we decided that we really wanted to do something special to help our women who were affected by the Jos Crisis in late November. Eight of our women had their homes and possessions burned.

Nigerians love to act drama and seem to do it effortlessly, ad-libbing all the way. Two of our staff members acted the part of women who lost everything in the fires. They cried out to God about all of the hardships in their lives: HIV, widowhood, and now this. In the second scene two women were chatting about how they were planning to spend their money this month on the latest fashion, etc. Then a third woman came up and challenged them to remember those who lost everything in the crisis.

While the cast members sang a song, the staff delivered envelopes with N3000 ($22) to each of the eight victims. This money had been donated expressly for crisis victims. Just this morning Mashiah Foundation was given 22 wrappers (six-yard pieces of cloth used for sewing a complete outfit). We gave two wrappers to each crisis victim. The six remaining wrappers will be given to others in need.

One of our crisis victims was in tears over this gift. In reality, the gift was not big, but I know that they all felt the outpouring of love, and they know they have not been forgotten.

Sarah issued a challenge to all of our women: next Monday we're all going to bring an offering for the crisis victims from what we have in our houses: clothes, shoes, raw foodstuff, pots, plates, money... And we're not going to be bringing our cast-offs. This will be an offering as unto the Lord.

A gesture such as this helps our HIV+ women see themselves in a new light. For so many years they have thought of themselves as the receivers. Now they are the givers, out of whatever they have.

I, for one, can't wait till next Monday.

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