No one heard Rebecca’s cries, until…
Rebecca’s cries went unheard—or perhaps unheeded. No passerby would have dared enter the dark alley where her assailant raped her, and then left her weeping in a crumpled heap.
Rebecca died that day. Not a literal death of course, but in her African culture, she might as well have been buried and forgotten. Rebecca lost her reputation and her future. Once it was discovered that she was pregnant, even her own family rejected her.
Before that tragic day, Rebecca Odysee had been enjoying a privilege that few women in the DR Congo ever hope to experience: She was the recipient of a scholarship to attend a local junior college. She looked forward to a career and a better life than most.
But now that she was pregnant and unwed, her college dropped her like a hot potato—it made no difference that she was a victim. The orphanage where she worked also let her go. And Rebecca’s parents, having passed away years earlier, could offer no support. She was alone.
By the time she gave birth to her baby—a son whom she named Gideon—Rebecca was begging on the streets to survive.
It was not until two years later that any hope sprung within Rebecca’s heart, when a woman named Bijoux told her about Jesus, and a place in the city of Goma called the Women of Wellness Center. When Bijoux mentioned that the center provided sewing classes where she could learn skills, along with other women like her, useful for supporting herself and Gideon, Rebecca quickly enrolled.
Like the other 22 ladies enrolled in last year’s training class, Rebecca received far more than vocational training. She learned that, rather than being a worthless object of contempt, she was in fact loved and sought after by the One who created the universe. Each day at the center her heart and mind has been renewed through prayer, Bible studies and trauma counseling. She also learned about health and hygiene. And while Rebecca and her classmates have been learning their skills and growing in Christ, little Gideon and the other children have been cared for by loving staff.
There are, tragically, countless other women in the DR Congo who, like Rebecca, have been raped, abused and discarded, and are in great need of the love and restoration that the Women of Wellness Center can provide. But there is currently one large obstacle that prevents the center from accepting more women, and that is the lack of consistent electrical service.
Electric power is non-existent in much of the DR Congo and is always intermittent in Goma, a problem exacerbated by thieves who steal power lines for resale. The women’s center compensates by operating a medium-size generator during working hours, but the generator gulps high-priced fuel and needs frequent repairs. (Not to mention the fact that staff must try to teach and counsel the young women and children over the constant droning of the nearby generator.)
Beyond all of this, activity at the center now extends into the night, which requires more electrical power for illumination. It is during the night that women practice the various skills they’ve been learning and complete projects that help them earn actual income. It’s also one of the only times they can learn and practice computer skills using the center’s laptops.
A much larger generator could remedy this situation, but that means increased fuel expenses. So, after a full analysis, it has been determined that solar power and some energy-efficient lights is the best solution. All total, the center needs 11 solar panels, 9 storage batteries, a power converter and 25 energy-efficient lights. That system is expected to power 4 sewing machines, 5 laptop computers, 2 printers, 3 televisions used for training, an iron and lighting for 9 hours on one charge. The total cost is about $11,000.
Heaven’s Family has committed to fund this need through our Victims of Sexual Violence Ministry. All we need is the money! Thus my reason for writing to you! By helping to meet this pressing need, you’ll be investing in the life of Rebecca and the many women who depend on the lifeline that the Women of Wellness Center offers them.
This solar power generating system will greatly expand the opportunities for the center’s students and staff. As the women have excelled in their sewing skills, they’ve also been given contracts to sew uniforms for school students and those incarcerated in a local prison. And those women who’ve added baking skills to their repertoire are being sweetly rewarded after the recent opening of a donut shop that has attracted the patronage of those who work at the United Nations building across the street.
Thanks, as always, for your compassion for the “least of these” in whom Jesus is incarnated. No gift is too small or large, and if we happen to receive more than the $11,000 needed for this project, the balance will be used to help victims of sexual violence in other ways.