The tailor, the queen – and you!

Above: HM Queen Mathilde and HRH Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, with Hilda far right, visit the Jitemegee Vocational Training Centre where you help support women like Faheema learn to sew. Image credit: LWF Kenya

What a strange year 2020 was!

Bushfires. COVID-19. Recession …

Yet despite this, you and other Lutheran women in Australia and New Zealand helped make 2020 a wonderful year for many people around the world …

… and the life-change you brought was so amazing, a queen and princess stopped by to visit!

The tailor …

Meet Faheema. She’s a refugee from South Sudan who fled to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya more than 20 years ago …

I was married when I was 16yrs of age. I was taken by force by a soldier from the north.

The rebels came and bombed our place.

I fled to Nadapal. My husband ran away with the other soldiers and I escaped with the children to the border.

Once Faheema and her children reached the safety of Kakuma, you helped welcome them through ALWS with hot meals, a safe bed, and a listening ear.

Yet Faheema’s suffering wasn’t over.

When I came to the camp, I had no communication with my husband. I did not know if he was alive or dead, so I developed a relationship with another man.

He was an HIV infected man, but I was not educated to know what this really meant and was too shy to say no.

He has now died … and I have now found out that I am HIV positive.

Faheema has asked we don’t share her real name or photo because being HIV positive can make life very difficult for people.

The stigma of the disease means you may be excluded from your community. Plus, to stay well, you need a healthy diet including fresh fruit and vegetables. After her husband died, Faheema couldn’t afford this. She became very sick from the HIV drugs.

I thought I would die so I did not celebrate at Christmas. I gave no presents or clothes for my children.

I just gave up on life.

The queen…

Hilda takes your help to people like Faheema and says: ‘I am very much grateful to ALWS (you!) who has tirelessly walked with us to help hundreds of vulnerable women in the camp obtain tailoring skills.’ Image credit: LWF Kenya

Hilda Thuo isn’t a queen in the traditional sense of the word, but when you hear what she does, I think you’ll agree she’s pretty majestic!

Hilda is a Livelihoods Officer with Lutheran World Federation. She’s worked at Kakuma for 21 years and takes your care to people like Faheema. Hilda shares:

Tailoring has been a favourite skills training for women in the camp due to their low literacy level.

It has been a great pleasure to see women who cannot read and write learn how to sew, sit for national exams and pass, make money from sewing and buy their own sewing machines.

Income from sewing has greatly improved their living standards.

They supplement their family food basket, buy basics and household assets for their household members, expand their shelters, and most importantly support their children’s education.

This is how you helped Faheema. At her lowest point, she heard about the tailoring training you support, and enrolled:

This training from ALWS has helped me so much. Now I can eat well and buy fruit and vegetables. This makes much better health for me.

Sewing gives me some income to buy clothes for my children. It pays for my children’s school fees.

I am so happy to be a part of this sewing group because there is no discrimination here. I feel free and am treated like anyone else.

I am very, very, very, very thankful for the people who provided money for this sewing program. I would not be where I am today without it.

Because of your care through ALWS, Faheema was also able to join an HIV support group. Members encourage each other, learn how to look after their health, and contribute to an emergency medical fund they can all share.

The support you give to people like Faheema is so life-transforming …

… HM Queen Mathilde and HRH Princess Elisabeth of Belgium came to visit!

(Now you can say your work ROYALLY is amazing!)

– and you!

Ann, Janet, Meagan and Kellie were so keen, they walked an extra 3km – a total of 29km – to help refugee children go to school!

The 26km walking challenge Walk My Way began in 2017 as a way for caring people like you to help refugee children at Kakuma go to school.

While COVID-19 forced us to postpone Walk My Way events, so many Australia and New Zealand Lutherans didn’t let that stop them from stepping out in love.

Four determined women from St Johns Lutheran Church in Unley (SA) – Ann Fitzgerald, Janet Haby, Meagan Schwarz and Kellie Leske – raised enough from their Walk My Way to help 87 refugee children go to school! Meagan shares:

Doing the walk made me even more thankful to God for the blessings we have in this country, and reinforced how important it is that we support ALWS to reach out in God’s name to bring hope to those who have lost everything.

We take so much for granted that it’s good for us to be reminded that we are sadly the exceptions in this world – so that we commit to being God’s hands and feet so that others may also enjoy life in all its fullness (John 10:10).

Although 2020 was a difficult year for so many, it also marks 70 years of people, like you, ‘being God’s hands and feet’ through ALWS. Since 1950, our Lutheran family has reached out to bring hope and life-change to people like Faheema.

Whether it’s your feet walking or your hands sewing, your service to others through ALWS, sets hearts singing – and royalty smiling! Thank you for all you do!

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Australian Lutheran World Services

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