The Strength of Women

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that women are not strong. Surely it is women, not Atlas, who hold the world on their shoulders.

I’ve spent my life working with migrants and refugees. March 2017 found me sitting with South Sudanese women in the Uluah refugee camps along the northern Uganda border. Most are widows. All are bereft. The UN, unable to cope with their numbers, has cut food rations by two-thirds.

I listened to their stories. Villages attacked. Homes burned. Family members killed. Famine. Displacement. Rape. The long, dangerous trek to the border. All the while, caring for their children.

Because of their children, they cannot give up. They build huts. They forage for firewood. They send the children to schools, though they themselves never had that chance. If I were in their place, facing what they face every day, I might curl into a fetal position and shut out the world. These women get up every morning long before dawn to work. They sing to keep hope alive.

Those who receive a small loan from Mercy Beyond Borders start businesses. Nothing elaborate. A kiosk selling tiny plastic bags of salt or chunks of soap. A restaurant (to be precise, a table with two chairs ) where you can enjoy hot tea. A shelf displaying braided dried fish for sale from the Nile.

Not much, to a foreign observer; for these women, a livelihood that translates to school fees, medicine for a sick child, the promise that life can get better.

The women thank me for their small loans, yes; but mostly they’re grateful because my being there proves the outside world has not entirely forgotten them.

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