Most days, Sakina has the opportunity to attend Oasis. She partakes in the vocational training sewing class and has had the opportunity to learn a life-long skill. Over the last few weeks, Sakina has not been able to attend class; instead, she's had to take on jobs to help support her mother and brothers. Today, as I was walking home, I passed Sakina and Brenda on the road. While Sakina's a tough one, Brenda's the sweet one- never failing to show her shy, gentle smile.
Both girls were carrying loads of firewood that were twice their height and four times their weight. They had walked for miles to reach the forest where they are able to cut down tall, skinny trees with just one machete. Their legs and arms were filled with scratches and their bodies looked exhausted. I've heard that women who collect firewood often succumb to illnesses of the lungs. The physical toll this jobs takes on their body will weaken these young girls in no time. Simply watching them carry such a heavy load on their heads makes my neck and head hurt. It's both amazing and sad to watch girls I love work tirelessly to provide for their families. Usually this job is done by mothers, but these teenage girls have forfeited their childhood with hopes survival for both their families and themselves.
I know that selling firewood won't provide enough money to feed her family and I wonder what else she'll have to do to earn the money she needs. The thoughts that pass through my mind as I contemplate the options are heart breaking. I can't help but wonder how long it will be before these girls, as many others have, come face to face with the fact that selling their bodies brings more revenue along with less work. That thought alone makes my stomach churn. So what's my role in all of this? I believe it's to pray, to encourage and to guide these precious girls with the hope and light of Jesus Christ. There's no one solution to their problem that I can provide, but I can provide the one Solution that can change their lives the most.
Sakina and the firewood she had collected