On International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, we asked Brooke Sulahian, Founder of Hope for Our Sisters, to help us learn more about this tragic injury and the ways in which it might be prevented, treated, and healed.
Thank God for Women is a blog series rooted in gratitude for the strength, courage, and incredible capacity women demonstrate.
Occasionally, in life, we are blessed to experience joy in its purest, most unadulterated form. It can come in a quiet moment of prayer, an incredible experience, or even through a person.
For me, one of these precious moment of joy came in the form of a beautiful wife and mother, named Beatrice, who lived in the Bushenge district of Rwanda. Beatrice is an individual who radiates the love of Jesus. When I think of her, I immediately think of Proverbs 31—clothed in strength and dignity, laughing without fear of the future.
For Beatrice, however, that was not always the case. For years, she longed to repair the broken relationships within her family to prepare her children for their future. Beatrice spoke with a tangible sadness when she explained how isolated she was from her children. “I was too shy to talk to them about their health and their bodies, or to counsel them on difficulties of being a teenager. They were lost, and I continued to build a wall between us, higher and thicker with each passing year.”
As Beatrice struggled to understand how to relate to her new adolescents, she joined a parenting group run by a local church as a part of World Relief’s "Mobilizing For Life” program. She began learning about God’s vision for family, and the opportunity and gift she’d been given in motherhood. Beatrice learned to rise above her embarrassment and enter into discussions with her children around health, dating, sex, and HIV/AIDS. And it wasn’t long before Beatrice broke through yet another social barrier—encouraging her husband, Gracian, to join her.
Less than five years later, Beatrice and Gracian are pillars of inspiration and faith in their community. Today, Beatrice and Gracian lead kids-clubs throughout their community. Each week they spend time with nearly 100 adolescents, counseling them and fostering a safe and open environment where kids from all walks of life can share their struggles and ask questions. And what they have achieved is truly remarkable. In her own words, through a smile that reached ear to ear, Beatrice told us about their work.
“In 2014 we started a kids club counseling youth. We teach the kids the word of God, but we also talk about how to make good decisions. We focus on how to pick good friends, to stay away from drugs and alcohol, and avoid HIV and early pregnancy. We even started hosting soccer games and offering free HIV testing at matches. Last match we had over 80 kids come to play and get tested!
It is truly amazing, and our initiative is only growing. We are fostering an environment of openness where everyone comes to us for advice. We are so happy that we’ve been able to learn and share so much and be a part of change in our community.”
I truly believe that supporting, celebrating, and investing in women like Beatrice is the most effective and impactful way to change lives. To watch a once-struggling wife and mother in rural Rwanda be transformed by a renewed understanding of God’s calling for her life has an unparalleled beauty and power.
To be in her presence is to experience God in a beautiful and tangible way.
Beatrice is why I Thank God for Women each day.
Women of incredible faith, uniquely and purposefully placed to experience and reveal God’s plan for the world in the most unexpected ways and places.
Capable of restoring brokenness with one smile.
Laughing without fear of the future. Rather, embracing it. Transforming it.
These are brave kingdom warriors, beautiful and courageous women of God, stepping out in faith to transform their families and ultimately, their entire communities.
Give to World Relief today. Together, we can create a better world for women like Beatrice.
Francesca Albano currently serves as Product Development Lead at World Relief. With a background in strategic marketing communications, she connects her interests in brand strategy, audience engagement, and storytelling around her passions—children, disaster and humanitarian relief, human rights, and poverty alleviation. Francesca best describes herself as a storyteller, writer, foodie, globetrotter, and humanitarian.