In the countries that we work in, many young girls face a harsh reality. They become pregnant at a very young age, often as a result of rape, abuse or ignorance. They are rejected by their families and society, and left to fend for themselves and their babies. They have no education, no skills, no prospects and no hope. But there is a place where these girls can find love, acceptance, support and hope. It is church-run vocational training schools like the one at Mumbumbano. Here, these teenage mums can learn skills such as shoemaking, tailoring, hairdressing and catering, and also receive spiritual guidance and counselling. I had the privilege of visiting this school and meeting some of these amazing girls. They shared their stories with me, and I was moved by their courage, resilience and faith. They are truly inspirational. One of them was Maria. She got pregnant when she was just 15. The child's father disappeared and left her to it. Unusually, she wasn't thrown out of home, her mother protected her from her father who was very angry at the situation. When her son was 18 months old, Maria asked to go back to school but her father said that the baby was her certificate of education. She told me how she cried herself to sleep each night.
She was identified by her local pastor as needing help and was put forward for a bursary from Christian Hope so that she could attend the school at Mumbumbano. She chose to do the shoemaking course, and she was proudly wearing her own shoes that she made. She said that the school has changed her life. She has learned a skill that can help her earn an income, she has made friends with other girls who understand her situation, and she has grown closer to God as a result.
Like Maria, all the girls were grateful to God for the opportunity to attend the vocational training course. The church and the course supported them in many ways:
The love and acceptance of the church helped them to shake off the stigma of being an unmarried mother and to be accepted by their families.
The friendships they developed on the course and the support they gave each other helped to heal the trauma of their rejection.
The skills they learned on the course gave them hope for a brighter future and the ability to escape the poverty trap.
As part of the course, they were discipled, which helped them to grow spiritually, study the Bible, and receive practical advice on running a business and family planning.
Please pray for these young women who have recently graduated and are looking to start their own business. They will need to find the money to buy the tools of their trade and materials before they can start earning an income. All whilst caring for their children.
Pray also for others like them who would benefit from such a course and that they would be able to have the opportunity.
Other ways to help: