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How three mothers found comfort and hope in extreme adversity

Motherhood is not always what we imagine. And many mothers around the world find themselves navigating through extreme adversity.

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Is it possible for these mothers to find comfort or hope?

They and their children were provided with comfort and support.

Amanda recoiled, cradling her precious baby boy in her arms. Chulumanco had been born with cerebral palsy. As a tear rolled down her cheek a sense of loneliness, isolation and abandonment welled in her heart. The cultural stigmas held by some in her community whirled in her mind – some South Africans still believed in a connection between witchcraft and disability.

A hopeful future ahead for these new babies at RUTH House Anglican Aid

How did she cope?

Ana* looked down at the bustling Indonesian street below. She was 20 years old, without a job, pregnant, and likely to be outcast. Fearing for her life and that of her unborn child, Ana made a plan. She’d escape from the room filled with the horrific memories. Then she’d run until she found the friend of her relative who lived nearby.

But then what happened to her?

Zanele* recalled, “Things were very bad.” A native Zimbabwean, she had left her home country with the hope of finding a fresh start. Instead, she found herself in Hillbrow, Johannesburg’s most notorious ‘red-light district’. It had a reputation of crime, poverty and prostitution. She had three young children she couldn’t feed, no legal papers and no way of finding work – Zanele was becoming exceedingly desperate. Her voice quivered, “I became a sex worker. Something I never wanted.” The trauma of finding herself in a crowded brothel, with her passport confiscated and living in fear of being arrested, all came flooding back.

How did she escape?

In Isaiah 66:13, the Lord said to his people, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” Amanda, Ana and Zanele all connected with organisations that showed them God’s love. They and their children were provided with comfort and support.

“God directed Mama into my life to help me.” – Zanele

Zanele found comfort and hope through support at Umthombo WeMpilo. Anglican Aid

Amanda found Anglican Aid’s project partner, Timion (meaning ‘precious child’). Motivated by faith, Timion demonstrates God’s love for all children by providing support to mothers raising children with disabilities. Timion’s counsellor, Nolubabalo – a native speaker – started a support group and Amanda joined. After ten years with Timion, Amanda is now on staff at its recently opened day care centre and thriving in her new role. Chulumanco, attends the centre too. The mothers continue to meet regularly to encourage and comfort one another through their struggles.

Ana escaped and was introduced to Diva, the founder of RUTH House, also supported by Anglican Aid. It is often referred to as the house for ‘growing hope’. RUTH House provided comfort and shelter to Ana as she awaited the arrival of her baby. She safely gave birth to a little boy and was supported as her hope for the future grew. Her baby is now a healthy five-year-old boy, attending school and being cared for by Ana, as a single mother. She has reunited and reconciled with her extended family.

Uthombo weMpilo, or ‘well of life’ in the Zulu language, is the name of the project run by Anglican Aid’s partner, Christ Church Hillbrow. A woman named Bubbly runs the project to educate women about their rights and to offer them skills-based workshops and shelter. Every week Bubbly visits local brothels where she offers prayer and a hand of friendship. The young women affectionately call her “Mama” and she is just that – a mother figure giving comfort to many caught up in the dark world of prostitution.

Zanele speaks with tenderness about meeting Mama for the first time, “God directed Mama into my life to help me.” With her assistance, Zanele was able to find the support she needed to leave the sex industry. Zanele is thankful for the microfinance loan that assisted her to set up and earn a living from her own cooking business. She received legal assistance and now has a passport that recognises her as a legal resident. Zanele is hopeful for what is to come saying, “I am asking God to help me overcome my past. My hope is that he will make me strong and allow me to look after my children, and give me strength.”

This month, take a moment to consider how you could support a mother in need of comfort and hope.

Amy Touzell/Anglican Aid

* names changed to protect identity

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