March 2016

Aaheli heaved the spade over her shoulder and began walking toward the field she and her friends had purchased to cultivate. It was a risky venture. Her husband and relatives didn’t think they could pull off such a task.

It was discouraging, but the women believed this business would help their families thrive, so they kept working and planting seeds—and their sorrows—into the barren earth.

March 2016

Lives of Pathetic Conditions

Aaheli, just like her four companions, desperately wanted a new beginning for her family. She joined her husband in bringing income to the household in hopes that by doing so, her children would get a quality education. She dreamed of giving her children a good future.

Every day she visited nearby families, asking if there was any work that needed to be done. She’d clean their houses and wash their dishes if it meant getting a few more rupees in her hands at the end of the day.

It was the same for Suchi, except she just wanted to make sure she could feed her child. She’d see other parents able to afford good food for their children; then she’d look at her own life. There were times when the electricity was shut off to her home because the bills weren’t paid.

Then Aaheli and Suchi heard about a micro-finance program in their area. The program, which operates under GFA World-supported Women’s Fellowship, has helped more than 84,000 women overcome poverty by providing loans that will help them start their own businesses.

Maybe this was the way to their dreams.

Where They Sowed Their Dreams and Sorrows

Becoming Part of the Program

Aaheli and Suchi applied. The micro-finance program had strict qualifications: Each woman had to have a clean reputation, an entrepreneurial mind and a good history of borrowing money.

Women would form local “units” and attend weekly meetings that would help them learn more about owning their own businesses, time management and being good financial stewards. It would also be a time when they could discuss ideas and fellowship with one another.

Aaheli and Suchi ended up in the same unit.

Where They Sowed Their Dreams and Sorrows
Where They Sowed Their Dreams and Sorrows

Fighting Discouragement

As Aaheli, Suchi and the other unit members grew together, Aaheli suggested they buy a field. They could plant tapioca, yams, bananas, and then sell their produce. Suchi and three others joined Aaheli.

When they presented the idea to their husbands, however, they received scoffing.

“It will collapse,” their husbands would say. “Don’t get involved in such kind of activities.”

The constant discouragement dampened the women’s hopes. “We have other options. Shall we start a tailoring unit? It will be better,” some of the women suggested.

But Aaheli refused to be brought down.

“We can do this one,” she said.

Their unit leaders also encouraged them, but more importantly, their leaders prayed for them—and they felt God’s power in those prayers. Whenever the women gathered for their weekly meetings, they gained confidence and learned to trust Jesus in all things. Suchi and the other women even found themselves praying to Jesus at unexpected times in unexpected places, knowing fruit—of all kinds—will come only from His hand.

More Than Economical Help

With the women’s hearts encouraged, they moved forward. They bought their field, and an excitement at the new venture filled the women. Then they began working the land. That was difficult.

Where They Sowed Their Dreams and Sorrows

Handling the spades and other tools took effort. They came home with aching bodies and blistered hands, and they cried. But they didn’t give up. Every day, they’d walk to the field and ignore the remarks of men who thought them too feeble to work a field. The remarks stung, but they took the scoffing, planted it in the soil, and left it there.

The field became a place of solace for Aaheli, Suchi and their three friends. It was where they laughed and cried together, where they shared their joys and their sorrows.

“This field is not only for economic development,” one of the women says. “This is also a field where we share our struggles and sorrows.”

Where They Sowed Their Dreams and Sorrows
Where They Sowed Their Dreams and Sorrows

Fruition of Their Dreams

Aaheli looked at the field they had bought. It had taken some months, but trees had sprouted. She pressed her bare feet into the dirt and dug her wooden-handled spade into the ground.

Every stroke revealed months of labour and hope. She cleared more dirt away then lifted a cluster of tapioca plant from the earth.

Their labour was not in vain. What they had planted had brought forth life and with it the ability to take care of their families.

As Aaheli and her friends walked back home carrying their plentiful harvest, men remarked, “You are very hard workers.” The women smiled. They did it for their families and know they succeeded by the grace of God and the help of the micro-finance program that enabled them to pursue their dreams.

*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.

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