Meet Apio Annette, Obulei Village
Meet my friend, Apio Annette!! (Beautiful picture to be added soon!!) Apio is her Teso name, and Annette is her Christian name. Annette is only two years older than I am, 39 and has eleven children! Bless her already!
She lives in the Obulei Village, which is the most recent village to be added to the program in February of this year. All eleven of these children are hers (sometimes the mamas will take in orphans as well) but seven live with their father, whom she does not get to see anymore. Annette has to live with her mother and one of her brothers; her father lives with another woman.
Her oldest child living at home is Atayo Caroline, 13. She also has Ogwang Soloman, 9, Otim Manuel, 5 and Otiema Ignatius, 1. The oldest two are in primary school.
Because Annette has no husband, she has no gardens of her own. Her mother doesn’t own any gardens either, which are their only means for food and income. The only other option that Annette has is to find a willing neighbor and work other people’s gardens. Because she doesn’t have a husband, she is left trying to physically build her mud hut all by herself, which is challenging for many reasons, but primarily because she is also HIV positive. She gets sick often and it delays productivity. She does get some medicine for free, but there are other medications that she needs that she can’t afford.
Annette shared that she would love to have her own business and not just work the gardens for income. She would like to sell fish and attend the business training BFA offers – she knows this will provide another way to manage all of her financial needs.
Despite all the trials and burdens, this woman remains strong and hopeful. She perserveres for her children. She values their futures and desires better education for them. She loves them and sacrifices heroically already for them.
Like I stated earlier, Obulei Village is the most recent village to be added to BFA. But they have not been able to receive any tangible help yet. They should have received cows towards financial help and encouragement, but there has been a quarantine on cows in the past few months. They are still so new and hurting, still waiting and hoping. I can’t help but think of the verse, “hope deferred makes a heart sick.”
These are the moments I don’t want to be back home on this side of the Atlantic, but sitting next to Annette on the dusty, clay colored soil, under the mango tree and batting away the mosquitoes as she feeds her little one, and instead take a deep breath with her, and jump into her pain and help bear her burdens. Because they don’t seem to end at this moment and I want her to get some relief! I don’t want her to feel alone as she has to wake up each day missing her seven children who are living with their father. I have single mother friends. I know women whose husbands have taken their children away in malicious and heartless ways – I can imagine the pain and heartache this alone causes for Annette. She doesn’t have an education or money to start a business – a business representative of stability, status, self-esteem, hope, a future. She is dependent on others for home, work and food right now. And her body is in desperate need of healing! She is in a very vulnerable and weak place.
And I LOVE the local leadership team, Anne and Rita, and Brandi’s response to her weak state: “WE SEE YOU!” And we care and you’re not alone and we want to help elevate you to a strong position!! Strong emotionally and strong physically!!
And so Anne and Rita mobilized one more village into a community for single mothers. Because they know that “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). And how much stronger would a cooperative of thirty be then? And Brandi rallies the troops in the United States and around the world to pool their resources and give with the same sentiment of the believers in Acts who “shared with all, with anyone who had need.”
And it never gets old to watch God’s love strategy in action!!! Government and other very well meaning people have tried, in their own strength, to fix the needs of the poor, the underprivileged, the hungry, the uneducated, the homeless… yet none accomplish as much and as quickly as our God does for these people! I am IN LOVE with Him and His wisdom for this reason!
And it’s a reminder of the BEAUTY of even their weakest state – it is an opportunity for God to burst through and radiate His strength and might, in a way that we would not otherwise see if it weren’t for these women’s testimonies.
Though men and a real Enemy have tried hard to take Annette out in this world, her God is faithful and not only has He sustained her, I have full faith that He is getting ready to heal and restore her in mighty ways. It’s just what happens when He gets involved. Come join what He is already doing for Annette!! Pray for her and her children and her specific requests. Find out how you can be a part of what God is getting ready to do in Obulei Village and play a role in ministering and breathing life into this village!!