Kuvira, Sabeena, Aamaal and Binita walked along the dirt road flanked by lush landscape that seemed to embrace them, inviting the four ladies to continue down to the village nestled near the river that flowed just beyond. As the women stepped into the village, however, the welcome feeling vanished.
An Unwelcome Entrance
The GFA-supported Sisters of Compassion team, clad in their long white saris, entered the village and made their way through the streets, but no pairs of eyes looked their way. Stillness filled the air as the residents feigned ignorance of the presence of four strange women walking through their village. Doors swung closed, hiding suspicious residents inside. Others continued their outdoor chores but turned their backs on the sisters as they passed by.
The cold reception didn’t dampen the sisters’ excitement to minister within this village. They knew they could do something great for the people who hid in their homes and turned their backs. Kuvira, Sabeena, Aamaal and Binita prayed for the villagers as they headed home and asked the Lord to give them a ministry in this place. They encouraged each other along the way, reminding themselves of God’s great power to change lives.
Pens, Pencils and Notebooks
The four sisters continued to visit the village. At first, the only residents who acknowledged them were children. From very young to school aged, kids would approach the women in white with curiosity, asking questions and relishing the adult attention. Kuvira, Sabeena, Aamaal and Binita started teaching the village kids, most of whom worked in fields or roamed the streets instead of attending school. The sisters gave the children pens, pencils and notebooks so they could study on their own when the women were not there. After some time, the kids enjoyed learning and wanted to go to school, something they had always avoided before the sisters came. The parents in the village, amazed at the transformation, began to acknowledge the women who had helped their children so much.
Next Step: Literacy for Women
Motivated by the impact they had teaching the children to value education, the four Sisters of Compassion looked for a way to help the women in the village—most of whom were illiterate. The sisters decided to start a literacy class.
At first the villagers laughed at the sisters’ idea.
“What would we do by learning how to read and write?” the village women scoffed. “Our life is spent working in the fields and river, so if we join the class, it is not going to be beneficial for us, and we would be simply wasting our time.”
Undeterred, the Sisters of Compassion urged the women to join their class and explained the many ways literacy could impact their lives. The women in the village decided to talk it over. They had watched the sisters teaching their children and knew the team wanted to help them in society. They were grateful their kids started attending school and began to think that maybe they should learn too. They finally decided they would enroll in the literacy classes with the sisters.
Wife and Mother Perseveres in Learning
The first literacy class included six women from the village. Bodhi, a 45-year-old mother with four children, joined the first class. Bodhi had never gone to school herself and took up the challenge to learn to read and write. It was very difficult for Bodhi at first, and she wanted to quit many times, but the sisters kept encouraging her. Bodhi went to class every Saturday, leaving behind her work, and slowly grew in her abilities. Sometimes her husband would tease her when she studied and practiced at home, asking if she was going to become the village accountant. Bodhi retorted that she simply wanted to learn how to read and write.
As Bodhi progressed with the instruction and encouragement of the sisters, she began helping the other ladies. They would get together to study and spur on those who struggled. A community pride formed among the group of six in the literacy class.
Now when Bodhi goes to the market, she no longer relies on the color of the money to tell her how much change she received back from her purchase. Instead, she reads the price tag, counts out the proper money and checks that her change is correct. When her kids are working on homework, Bodhi helps them when they are stuck and corrects their pronunciation when they read. Even her husband is proud of her.
“I feel so happy and proud of my wife,” Bodhi’s husband says. “If a person decides to accomplish something, [she] can achieve it someday. The sisters are working for the development of the society, and we should take advantage of what is provided by the sisters of the church.”
Kuvira, Sabeena, Aamaal and Binita visit the village frequently and are now welcomed into the homes of grateful families and honored as guests. Having ministered to the practical needs of the villagers, such as Bodhi, the Sisters of Compassion have become trusted confidants for the village’s mothers and children who seek the sisters out for prayer for life’s concerns. The four young women are now indispensable to this village and are shining lights of God’s love.
While the women in this village had to be convinced of the value of literacy, other women, like Habiba, dream of obtaining literacy. Read how Habiba’s dreams came true.