Through dialog with both projects, a collaborative plan emerged in which ADA would innovatively support the ministry of the Chagas program. While working with remote rural communities, the Chagas project offers workshops beyond disease prevention, tackling issues that affect everyday life, such as agricultural and health training. In past years, Kallie has run workshops on violence against women, something more that 70% of women in Bolivia suffer through. Listening to women in these communities, it was apparent that menstrual health was another prominent struggle.
The Chagas project agreed to contract ADA to sew washable feminine hygiene pad packs (for more about these, check out this blog). ADA then selected moms who had received training on domestic abuse through their program, to support Kallie in facilitating workshops in several communities before distributing the pads.
At first Carmen and Ana were nervous while leading these workshops as they had never spoken publicly before. However, giving testimony to their own experiences with violence was incredibly empowering for them and they soon presented with confidence, connecting with everyone in the room. Able to speak with authority on the subject, they explained different types of violence, how women get caught in a cycle, and what the community can do to protect women and stop tolerating violence.
After the workshop, we invited the men to leave and taught the women how to use and wash the pads, to the great excitement of all present. Training women on how to use these pads that ADA had made themselves was very encouraging for Ana and Carmen, who expressed that they finished each presentation with a great sense of pride. On the drive back, they recounted how this was they first time they felt they were formally able to use their abilities and experiences to help others. Later Ana reflected on the mission and witness of the church and decided she would begin attending a faith community in which she could learn and serve.
There are moments in cross-cultural ministry that are disheartening, but sometimes everything comes together in the most brilliant way, reminding us how blessed we are to be a part of it.