Fatim’s Story – Part 1

Fatim was born out of wedlock to her fifteen-year-old mother. She was given to an uncle and was raised as his “lamonden,” his live-in maid. She was not given the same privileges as other children in the home and was not accepted as their equal.

Fatim was 14 years old when her uncle took a second wife. Her workload doubled, and the sister wives began to fight over her.

Mah, Fatim’s mother, never got past the stigma of having a child out of wedlock and had been ostracized by most of her family. In her early 20s, she moved to Senegal to open a small restaurant in a slum community in Dakar. Mah kept in touch with her daughter and visited several times over the years and always ensured that Fatim had her current phone number.

When things progressively became worse for Fatim, she reached out to her mother. Mah talked to the family and asked that Fatim be allowed to move in with her. She even made a trip back to Mali to speak to the family in person. But to no avail, they refused to let Fatim leave, and they cut off all communication between the mother and daughter.

Fatim persisted and found a way to reach her mother through a friend. Once a week, she was allowed to go to Koranic school, and she’d use her friend’s phone to call her mom. Together, Fatim and her mother came up with a plan to be together.

Pretending as if it was like any other day for Koranic school, Fatim left the house, but she took a taxi to the bus station when she was out of sight. Mah had sent her bus money through her friend and arranged for Fatim to travel to Dakar with two acquaintances traveling on the same bus. It seemed as if the plan was foolproof until they got to the Senegalese border. 

Fatim was kicked off the bus and denied entry into Senegal as she lacked the appropriate paperwork. The two ladies traveling with her could not help, but they showed her what bus she needed to take back to Mali.

Fatim was terrified to return. Her uncle was a violent man, and she feared his reaction after she’d attempted to leave his household. As night was falling, a man recognized Fatim’s distress and offered to help her. Having no other options, Fatim went with him. He allowed her to use his phone to call her mother in Dakar to explain the situation. He told Mah that she needed to send him $120 to get Fatim her paperwork. 

I got a frantic phone call from Mah in the early hours of the morning; she was so distraught that I could hardly make out what she was saying. She shared what was going on and told me that she only had half the money for Fatim’s paperwork and asked if I could loan her the other half. I assured her that we would help, and then together, we prayed for Fatim’s safety. 

Mah wired the money to the stranger at the border, and then it was two days of silence.

Alliance Women encourages you to partner with Hands of Honor through your prayers and financial contributions. We have set a goal to raise $25,000 to help Hands of Honor expand its ministry to young West African girls.

To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.

Download this story.

Hands of Honor – Dana’s Story

My name is Dana. In my village and in many others throughout West Africa, girls like me face an uphill battle. Because of the poverty in our homeland, we are forced to work from a very early age. When we reach our early teens and sometimes even sooner, many of us are forced into arranged marriages with older men while others become pregnant out of wedlock.

Sometimes we endure horrible things like genital mutilation that our cultural practices often force on us and because of gender inequalities, we are denied opportunities for education.

We feel alone, frightened, and trapped.

Last year, some women from CAMA’s Hands of Honor program approached me and told me about Jesus’ great love and care for me. They showed me that there was hope for a better future because I am God’s child.

Today, I’m writing worship songs in my native tongue, and Jesus is calling me to reach my own people who have never heard about His mercy and grace. And even though I face persecution—sometimes under threat of death—I will never go back to my old religion.

I know that the odds are still against me in many ways, but I also know that Hands of Honor will walk with me every step of the way—just like Jesus!

Alliance Women encourages you to partner with Hands of Honor through your prayers and financial contributions.

We encourage you to pray each Wednesday (West Africa Wednesday) for the Hands of Honor ministry.

We have set a goal to raise $25,000 to help Hands of Honor expand its ministry to young West African girls. For more information, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.

West Africa Wednesday

Pray each Wednesday for the Hands of Honor ministry and program expansion into another country.

by Becky  McCabe, CAMA Africa Regional Developer

Birthed in 2012, Hands of Honor addresses the injustice and inequality in the lives of vulnerable teen girls in West Africa, primarily child laborers. The nonprofit, Save the Children, identified the best and worst places for girls in our world based on several indicators: education, child marriage, adolescent fertility rates, justice, security, and inclusion. Of the 144 countries analyzed, the lowest-scoring countries are in West Africa. There is a significant need to promote equality and opportunity for girls in West Africa!

What began with just a few girls in one community morphed into Hands of Honor and now ministers to over 100 girls spread out in seven communities located in two countries in West Africa. Hands of Honor advocates for and intervenes in the lives of vulnerable child laborers. Through Hands of Honor ministries, girls are offered a safe place in their community. They are cared for by qualified Christian staff who provide Bible, health, literacy, and vocational instruction.

In 2020, Hands of Honor fulfilled a long-time goal of launching a preventative measure against child labor in a vulnerable community. They and their partners built a Christian elementary school that provides equal access to education and addresses a critical need for a quality educational option in a rural community. The school is self-sustaining, and opportunities exist in other communities for Christian school builds. Studies have proven that children enrolled in and succeeding in school are far less likely to be put into forced labor by their families. Alliance Women has opportunity to expand the reach of Hands of Honor by helping them launch in a new location.

REACHING INTO SENEGAL

In 2018, Hands of Honor launched in Senegal through a partnership with SOS Dialogue, a counseling and skills training center providing vocational training for non-schooled girls from low-income families. As the only evangelical girls’ vocational school in Thies, the third largest city in Senegal, the center is uniquely positioned to demonstrate Christ-centered compassion to their participants. In the words of founder, Marthe, “The love of Jesus Christ for these girls is our motive.”

The partnership between SOS and Hand of Honor created a culinary arts vocational track through the school that provides the opportunity for employment in the booming hospitality and tourism sector in Senegal. In August 2021, the first nine students finished the three-year program and are safely employed.

Girls from low-income homes need to have their fees subsidized by outside partners. Gifts from Alliance Women will fully fund 10 students from start to finish in this three-year program. In addition to funding culinary arts students, Alliance Women desires to fund other Hand of Honor ministry expenses including staff compensation, orality training, vocational training, literacy materials, and annual professional development.

Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for the Hands of Honor ministry in West Africa. We have set a goal to raise $25,000 for this vital ministry  to girls.

To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.

Hands of Honor video

Hands of Honor video – Spanish