Mary Beth and Bayo Oyebade are ELCA missionaries in Nigeria. They now serve with the Mashiah Foundation to provide services for those who are infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Mary Beth leads the women’s sewing program which helps women with HIV and AIDS earn money to provide for themselves and their families. To support the Oyebades, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
In early December the Self-Sustainability Department of the Mashiah Foundation gave out new treadle sewing machines to five of the women in our program. Over the years we have given out more than 100 sewing machines. This is an incredible gift to the women as it allows them to do much of their work at home without always having to pay transport to come to our sewing center. The machine is a big step on their road to being able to take care of their families.
These are always times of great joy — and always kept a secret until the staff come dancing out with machines. The recipients are often overcome with emotions. I haven’t seen Nigerian women cry very often in public, but many times this gift is so overwhelming that their tears just pour out.
The women’s immediate response is to praise God for their new machines. It’s a time of pure jubilation. I also love how friends rejoice with those who receive.
Another example of striving for self-sustainability is a woman who does not have the use of her legs due to having polio as a child. Consequently, she can’t use a treadle sewing machine. She comes to our program from time to time. I’m always reminded of the Bible story of the persistent widow whenever I see her. She kept telling us that she wanted us to help her buy firewood so she could be selling it at her house. In January, we paid for a load of firewood which she is selling from her compound. Ideally, by the time she finishes selling the wood, she will have capital to invest in another load of wood as well as some income to feed herself and her child.
She was so happy that day when some of our staff members visited her in her home and took the money to her. We will be following up with her to see how her business venture is going.