Saturday, March 13, 2010

serious thoughts about women in Guinea-Bissau

Monday was international women’s day and since there is never a reason too small to take a holiday in Guinea-Bissau, everything shut down :-) Supposedly the men go to the market and cook for their wives while the women chill all day, but I don’t know anyone who actually did that.

Serving up yummy Guinean food for a large group

Because Monday was a holiday, I had a little extra time to catch up on some reading on the internet. I did a little searching for news about Guinea-Bissau and I started noticing that lately our country has been appearing on lots of different lists. One of the 10 poorest countries in the world, right near the top on the list of the most corrupt governments, infant mortality through the roof, 1 in 13 women die in childbirth or pregnancy related causes, AIDS is on the rise and the literacy rate is terrible, and it’s ranked by the World Bank as the worst country to invest your money in a new business in 2010 because of instability, corruption, and lack of infrastructure.

Just before telling her that she had lost the baby. This happens at least 10 times more often than actually delivering a baby out in the village.

Bearing all that in mind, a new list came out this week in honor of international women’s day that shouldn’t have taken me by surprise, but it did - the 10 worst countries in the world to be a woman. I bet you can’t guess one of those 10... yup... Guinea-Bissau. Female literacy is low, spousal abuse is high, and we’re one of the only countries in the world where female genital mutilation is on the rise. When you focus on the stats, the picture is bleak for the women of this country.

I know a lot of women here. Some of them are just like the statistics would lead you to believe, uneducated, beaten, and without hope. I’ve been in a village during a mutilation ceremony and felt oppression so thick I could hardly breathe. I’ve looked into the eyes of woman dying from AIDS because her husband takes medicine himself but doesn’t think his wives are worth enough to treat. I’ve talked to women, covered in bruises, blaming themselves for their latest beating. Some days the heartbreak is overwhelming.

But I also know others. Over the past year, through Ajuda Bajuda and my women’s Bible study at church, I’ve gotten close to so many strong Christian women. The message of Jesus Christ has changed their lives in so many ways! The church in Guinea-Bissau is building schools, digging wells, and training families how to love one another. Christian husbands are sending their daughters to school, staying faithful to their wives, and arguing using words instead of fists.

It just brings me back to the cry of my heart – Guinea-Bissau needs Jesus. Desperate people need Hope, battered people need a Fortress, lost people need a Savior. Satan’s got this country so wrapped up and he’s ruining lives left and right! Join me in praying for this beautiful country – that it would change because God changes the hearts and minds of its people; that people would find the peace, hope, and the reason for living that they’re searching for in the life changing message of Jesus Christ.

A group of Christian women from the islands worshiping God as they watch the waves.