More than 50 women gathered in Grand Rapids, Mich., recently to hear stories of women in developing countries, stories of their resilience and hope in the midst of injustice in countries such as Nicaragua, Uganda, and Bangladesh.
“Through Her Eyes” was hosted by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee as a way to learn about women’s issues around the world.
“We hope that our guests will be moved by the stories of real women—women who have the same hopes and desires as women here in West Michigan,” said Joel Lautenbach, who organized the event.
Women of all ages gathered to hear the stories of women in developing countries.
Tables were full as mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and friends listened to three speakers: Ida Kaastra-Mutiogo, director of CRWRC-Canada, who spent many years in Africa; Leanne Talen-Geisterfer, Latin America ministry team leader for CRWRC; and Nancy Ten Broek, field staff and health specialist for CRWRC in Bangladesh and India.
Especially moving were stories like those of Shibani, who saw many women and babies dying in her remote village near the Indian border, and decided she could do something about it, despite having only a fifth-grade education.
She found a way to travel 15 km for three weeks to be trained as a traditional birth attendant for her village, where she now helps deliver babies along with teaching prenatal and maternal health. She is available 24 hours a day and may get paid with a chicken or a skirt or maybe not at all.
There were also sadder stories of women who are treated as second-class citizens with no access to health care or education, subjected to human trafficking or forced marriage, and of women living with HIV and AIDS.
Dana Doll attended the event with her mother. “With all the overwhelming statistics we hear in the news and media, it really doesn’t compare with hearing stories from women who have lived in these places for 20-plus years,” she said.
Her mother agreed. “It puts faces on the statistics and gives me an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness,” said Betty Doll. “We have so much to be grateful for, and out of that gratefulness we need to find a way to help.”