Today we attended a session with LHM trained volunteer counselors to minister to unwed mothers and victims of sexual abuse. Some of them were girls our staff met in town, others came through friends who heard about our ministry. In total, we’re currently working with 120 young women and girls between 14 and 25 who have been forced from their homes and even their congregations for becoming pregnant, many through rape and domestic sexual abuse. Parents are shamed, and pastors even tell the girls to go out from the church before they ruin other girls by their examples. Without intervention, these are the conditions that lead these girls to often end up resorting to prostitution and lead to a lifetime of suffering for themselves and their children.
Our staff and volunteers work with them, initially just reassuring them that someone loves and cares about them. Some girls have stayed with volunteers in their homes until they find other living arrangements. Today, most live with other family members, like an older brother or sister, or with friends. They are not girls in the absolute worst conditions, if we tried to help girls already living on the streets, we would need to fund a program that provided money and lodging, for example.
But our staff encourages them, even on a limited budget, through small group therapy, Bible studies, singing and worship, to stay faithful and helps restore their confidence in themselves. Ultimately, each girl is taught a simple vocation. Through volunteer experts, girls have been taught sewing, cloth-making, and hairdressing. It was really moving to hear their stories and see that they still have hope through God, after many others have forsaken them. I could sense by their singing and performance that they truly felt happiness in worship and in fellowship with Christian volunteers.
We’re working on an OGT shipment this fall that will contain sewing machines, cloth, and materials that will help expand the number of girls we can help. The container itself will be used to hold a small outreach center where girls can come by for help. It will be staffed by LHM volunteers. It’s an impressive and really meaningful ministry of which we can all be proud.