Rise Up Project Profile-Central Asia

Central Asia: A New Ministry to the Deaf Community 

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children in Central Asia. One of the reasons for this is a lack of swimming programs countrywide. The problem among women is even more amplified. Throughout Central Asia, it is estimated that 79 percent of men and 31 percent of women can swim, but that number is exaggerated by income inequalities or physical disabilities. In our region of Central Asia, the number is estimated to be closer to 50 percent of men and 10 percent of women that can swim. This means that many parents cannot teach their children how to swim and don’t have even a basic knowledge of water safety.  

Our project aims to teach deaf women and children how to swim. The first phase of our project has already begun. Spring 2023, we are teaching 10 Deaf women how to swim, to rescue actively drowning victims, and to provide first aid for drowning victims. The second phase of the project will involve teaching Deaf children how to swim at a week-long camp in summer 2023. The same women who were a part of the first class will help us supervise and assist swimming instruction at the camp. There will be refresher courses offered twice throughout the year for the camp participants. Fall 2023, we will teach another group of 10 Deaf women how to swim. We will utilize some of the original participants as assistants to our swimming instructors.  

Quality swimming instruction is both a need here and a priority for our organization. However, our purpose is not just swimming education. One percent of Deaf people within Central Asia are Christian adherent, but in the northern region, there are no known believers among the Deaf population. Our hope and aim are that this project will allow us to spend more time with and go deeper in relationship with the Deaf community to show them the love of the Savior. We foresee this project allowing us intentional time with Deaf women and children, as well as the families of those children—many of whom live in regional areas where there is no local church and essentially no gospel access.  

The funds will be used for pool rental, the hiring of believing instructors and a believing project administrator/translator, first aid and CPR trainings, and transportation for participants from the regions outside of the city. The adult classes are comprised of two months of classes and a first aid and CPR training. The children’s classes will begin at a week-long camp intensive. After the camp, two additional four-week refresher courses in fall 2023, two refresher courses in spring 2024, and parents’ first aid and CPR trainings will be offered. The cost of transportation from the regions to the pool is prohibitive for most families, and a closer pool is not available. Helping parents and their children come in from the regions will allow us extended time with the parents during class time and trainings. At least one AM worker, and ideally a local partner, will be present and asking the Lord for good conversations with the parents of our participants. 

Please pray that the Lord will use this project to grow His Kingdom among the Deaf of Central Asia. Through our Sign Language Education Project, we have spent considerable time in building trust with the Deaf community. We hope that this project will allow us to further press into relationship and share more fully about the Savior. The local word for “lifeguard” is the same word that they use for “savior.” Please pray that as the women and children in this project learn about “lifeguarding,” they will learn about the true “Lifeguard” of their souls. Philippians 3:20–21 says: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” 

Alliance Women has set a goal to raise $8,000 for the start-up of this ministry to the Deaf community in Central Asia. Please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give to participate.  

Stories from the Field – Santidougou Widows Center

by Esther Shaeffer,
International worker in Burkina Faso

Making a difference for widows’ children

Being the youngest of four children, there wasn’t much hope that Hawa would be able to continue in school. After her father died, Hawa and her mother worked hard selling food on the side of the road to support the family. But the older siblings would have the priority for school.

When Hawa was in 7th grade, her mother was able to pay the first down payment of her school fees. Hawa enrolled and began to attend classes with her friends. But when the next payment came due, her mother could not come up with the funds. The school threatened to kick Hawa out if the money wasn’t paid. Her mother went to the school and begged for more time. But the next month she was only able to pay a small percentage. The school explained that they could not keep Hawa enrolled if the money wasn’t paid. Hawa’s mom knew that her daughter was a good student and would find it hard to sit at home while her friends went to school each day. And so Hawa’s mom showed up at our house to ask if there was any way we could help to pay the rest of her daughter’s schooling.

We listened to her words and prayed together. The next day, I made an appointment to visit the school and talked with the director. He assured me that Hawa was an excellent student but that the distraction of the unpaid bill made it hard for her to concentrate in class. We agreed to pay the rest of her fees. We also told Hawa that if she worked hard and had passing grades each trimester, we would sponsor her for the next year.

That was five years ago. At the end of each school year, Hawa and her mother come and show me her passing grades. It is a happy moment for all of us. And then we set a date for when we will go and enroll her for the following year. But this was the last year for me to do this for Hawa is now in her last year of high school and will soon sit for her final exams. We are so proud of this young woman who has stayed committed to Christ and committed to her studies.

The opportunity to have a high school education will make a huge difference for Hawa, but also for her family. It was one burden that was taken off her mother’s shoulders. Hawa also will be able to secure a better job since she has a high school diploma. Staying in school and focusing on studies has kept Hawa from wandering into the temptations that are prevalent for young women in a large city. Succeeding in school increases Hawa’s self-image and allows her to be an example to others.