Survivors


13 Feb
13Feb

The road was bumpy, oh it was bumpy. The dust from the red dirt floating around us, like driving through an orange cloud. I sat squished between two of my intern friends in the back seat of a small SUV. The air conditioning made the car like a clear, breathable bubble floating bumpily down the road. As we passed through a slum I couldn’t help but notice how the red dirt has permanently left a thick layer on the trees and shacks, leaving them a rusty orange color.

We took the back roads to avoid mid-morning jam (traffic) in Kampala. We were traveling to a near by town to meet women who were old clients of IJM. They met together on this day every week in a support group that IJM had formed for them. All victims of the same crime—property grabbing, and all widows or orphans. These women were strong, these women were survivors. Some had been victimized by close family, others by strangers, but they all had one thing in common—they had prevailed. They were now in a business together, holding each other accountable for their part and using micro loans to make profits that sustained their families. This is what the aftercare ministry of IJM is for-- restoring survivors.

We sat with them and they sang songs; songs of thankfulness to God, thankfulness for IJM, and thankfulness for us. I felt undeserving of their gratitude, I had just arrived—what good have I done yet? And then the women spoke. Some knew English, some did not, but they each told their stories. Stories of heartbreaking loss, violence and in the end—justice.

Their wisdom was evident, written on the lines of their smiles. Their words were full of truth, from hard earned experience. The roads some of these women had walked in their lifetime were full of more than just orange dust, but violence, oppression and loss. Yet they told their stories with joy. Joy because God had seen them on their dusty roads and through the work of IJM, He had saved them.

One woman said, “IJM made me an empowered woman in the community. Now people seek advice from me. I am empowered because of IJM.”

And another woman ended her story by laughing and saying what she realized from it all is that, “Sometimes the person chasing you makes you realize where you are meant to go.”

I left with inspiration to last me much more than just the whole dusty ride home to Kampala.

The truth is that some roads are bumpy, filled with dust, darkness and seemingly unending. Some roads are clear as day with the wind at your back, filled with sunshine and happiness. Whatever your road looks like, we are called to walk it well. Whether someone is chasing you, or maybe you’re chasing yourself; maybe it’s a road that is fair and just, or maybe it feels like no one is watching out for you, like there is no fairness, no one has your back. If you’re on a road where you feel alone, you may be just like these women I met, before they received justice they were on a long, lonely road. What do I think these women would tell you? Don’t give up hope. The road may be long, it may seem unending, but have faith, God sees you on your bumpy road and your story isn’t over yet.

The day after our adventure to meet the survivors, I was in class (which I attend via facetime at 1 in the morning Uganda time) and I was reminded by my professor, “It’s not just that you get from point A to point B, it’s how you get there that shapes what you learned along the journey.” So-- take it all in, walk your road well, regardless of the dust and circumstance. Whatever road you are on, you are not alone.


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*The women in the photo above all consented to its use. To share the good news of what IJM is doing in empowering women globally.

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