Imagine living in a society where you are considered garbage. Women in Sierra Leone already face challenges, but the women in a recent workshop have the added stigma of being blind, deaf, or disabled in other ways. The abuse that many of them face is unspeakable. Yet, there is life-changing Good News hope being made known. Women of Hope International has been an effective ministry among impoverished women with disabilities in Sierra Leone for 10 years.
Our HSI team partnered with Women of Hope, a part of Accessible Hope International, that serves approximately 350 women in the town of Makeni who have disabilities of many kinds including blindness, deafness, Post-Polio Syndrome, paralysis (from injuries or poorly administered immunizations), elephantaiasis, amputation, leprosy and war wounds.
Women with disabilities in Sierra Leone live at an even greater level of vulnerability than the average woman.
- 98% of women with disabilities fall below the HPI (Human Poverty Index – measured by income, education, water sources and life expectancy).
- Less than 2% of the women with disabilities earn a sustainable income or are employed.
- Less than 20% of these women have an education above primary school and 46% of them had no education at all.
- 70% of women with disabilities have suffered from rape or sexual exploitation.
During the workshop, the team worked with Women of Hope to bring healing to these women as they studied the Bible, wrote Scripture songs, and performed skits to process through their painful memories of trauma with the help of the arts. Each day, the team held two sessions. During the second session, those who participated in the first session were asked to help facilitate.
Topics covered included:*
- The brain and trauma – the importance of integration
- How the arts can help promote healing from trauma
- How to listen well to a friend recounting their difficulties
- The importance of creating a safe space for traumatized individuals
- How the emotional wounds of our hearts may be healed
- The effects of trauma
- How to grieve well
- How to help traumatized children
- How to help someone who has been raped
- How to forgive others
- The value of women in God’s eyes
A couple of months after the workshop, HSI received word that Women of Hope held a mini-workshop on trauma at each of the four centers where they serve women. The result was very positive. One of the women who was trained led four other workshops and reached hundreds of more women. May God continue to bring healing to these women and give them confidence as they lead more workshops through their country.
More information at https://accessiblehope.org/women-of-hope-sierra-leone
*The training materials were adapted from those prepared by the Trauma Healing Institute. http://thi.americanbible.org/
Written by Heart Sounds International, a ministry of OM (Operation Mobilisation)