Are girls really forced into sexual activity just to go to school? Do husbands really force their wives onto the streets for sex-work? Tragically, yes they do. Can tools really help fight prostitution? Wonderfully, yes they can, in the hands of the right people. Judy is one of the right people!
Judy lives in Chipata, Lusaka. She knows the pressure orphaned girls can be put under simply because they are vulnerable and easily taken advantage of by powerful men.
She also knows the pressure women are put under by husbands who suffer long term unemployment and seek to ‘drown their sorrows’ in gambling by day and drinking by night; women who see what little money they have beaten out of them and forced onto the streets. This is a terrible life that leaves deep emotional scars and often irreparable physical damage. Young girls often end up as social outcasts, denied schooling and women are evicted from their homes. It is a miserable and stigmatising existence from which there seems no escape.
Judy says, “Women and girls like this just sit around in depression. They do not know what to do to change their lives.”
Thankfully Judy and the women at Chipata Compound Women’s Group are doing something about it! They got together and applied to Tools with a Mission for 6 sewing machines, a knitting machine and a computer. With these they offer orphans and vulnerable women the opportunity to learn tailoring, knitting, bag and bead making. They sell these to locals and tourists in the city centre markets. The money is used to pay for girls’ schooling and to help girls and women become independent from abusive families and husbands.
Judy continues, “We want to help girls whose parents have died and who are being abused by teachers or relatives. We want to empower women whose husbands force them into prostitution. We want to give these girls a different way to live. We want to provide an alternative and tell women and girls to come and join us. We don’t want people to live like this. We do not want them to just sit and cry out their hearts. We have to follow God’s leading for us and for each other.”
Tools don’t just provide livelihoods that put food on the table and a roof over someone’s head. They provide livelihoods that break girls and women free from the appalling abuse of being forced into sex-work. Never forget the “power of tools” and the incredible gift of a tool kit.
Tools with a Mission is a Christian international development charity based in Ipswich. For over 35 years it has been collecting donated usable tools, refurbishing them, sorting them into trade kits and sending them to the developing world for livelihood creation. It sends around 12-20 containers filled with over 300 tonnes of tools every year. It invests in local people who are supporting their own communities through grassroots livelihood-creating projects such as skills training centres.
Tools With A Mission believes there is dignity through work and the ability to provide for yourself and your family. It has seen entire communities transformed through training and the provision of tool kits and equipment. It believes that God’s heart reaches out to the poor and that He calls us to follow His example to serve suffering humanity.
To find out more about the work of Tools With A Mission in Ipswich visit http://www.twam.uk/ipswich