Meet Acero Joyce, Ogoloi B Village

Acero Joyce, 31, Ogoloi B Village.  Pictured with four of her seven children: Odongo Solomon, 12. Opio Joshua, 11.  Acen Martha, 11.  Okello Isaac, 7.

Yoga Acero Joyce!  My name is Elle!  

Yoga El-le.

{ Yoga is hello and no one can say my name, haha.  They call me "El-lay" which is kinda prettier anyway! }

It is so nice to meet you!  Thank you for wanting to share with me.  I love your head scarf!  { As if we need any other reason to bond but we both smile over her smart affinity for fashion }  Can you tell me about your family?  How old are you?  Do you have any children?

I am thirty-one. I had seven children but one died.  I had two sets of twins.

Two sets?!  I officially award you the best mother of the village!  How old are they?

My oldest is twelve.  I also have twins who are eleven.  I have a nine year old - her twin died.  And I have a seven and a four year old.  

Wow!  You have a full, beautiful family!  Are they in school?

They are in government, primary school but not sponsored through BFAU.  Praise God, they are all healthy.

Praise God, indeed!  I know that's not always the case.  Tell me more about your family - were you married?

I had a husband.  He began beating me and even tried to kill me, burning my clothes.  Then he left and went to live with another woman.  This was when I was pregnant with Isaac, my seven year old.  He doesn't hurt me now, but he also doesn't take care of any responsibilities as a father either.  He shuns the children when they want to see him.

Oh, Joyce, I am so sorry to hear that, that is horrible.  What did you do when he left you?

I had to run to my parents' house.  

Oh, thank God, I am so glad you had some place safe to stay!

Yes, a lot of times parents - especially fathers - won't let their daughters come back and stay. But not too long after we came there, my father got sick with cancer.  He died in 2010.  My brothers couldn't help because they were too busy caring for their own homes.  I stay now with my mother but we struggle with debts that we incurred from medical care for my father.

That must feel so burdensome.  How do you make money right now - do you have any gardens?

My father had gardens so we are able to use these to grow food for business.  But my brothers want it.  I would like to get back to owning my millet business.  

You had your own business?

Yes, I actually studied business.

Wow, what a blessing.  You must be so smart!  I know most women haven't been able to get an education.

Yes, I was able to study and I had my own millet business.  I really liked selling and making money.  But we had to close it in 2009 because our debts were too large.  We tried selling small fish also.  Our debt was 600,000 shillings (UGX).  It is now 250,00 UGX - we were able to sell some food to lower our debt.

You are such a hard worker, Joyce!  That is amazing you were able to do that much with every struggle you had going on in your life!

We still have another 250,00 UGX debt for medical bills.  I needed a loan for treatment because my health was bad.  There is something wrong with my uterus.  It keeps falling out.  And it's hurting again but I don't have any more money and I'm not sure what to do right now.  This makes me very worried and I'm now beginning to have ulcers from all the worry.  I also worry about my mother.

{ I'm kind of speechless at the moment, internally undone at the thought of her uterus falling out and with no medical care to properly and fully fix this for her.  I let her go on. }

In 2003, there was a lot of violence in the area due to the rebel fighters.  She had to leave her home and hide in the bushes during a raid.  She was caring for a baby and brought it out into the bushes with her.  {During translation, I couldn't figure out if this was Joyce's baby sister or brother or an unrelated baby her mother was looking after}.  She decided to sneak home to get food and left the baby in the bushes.  When she returned, there was a fire in the bushes and the baby was on fire.  My mother tried to rescue it, but got burnt and the baby died.  My mother is still affected by the trauma and can act mentally crazy sometimes from the grief.  And she gets ulcers from it.

Oh, Joyce, you brave, sweet woman  { I can't even pretend to hold back tears at this point }.  Tell me what you need - how can we help?  What are you praying for?

I pray for two things: for my health and for me to own land where her children can live.  I pray for food and money.  I am thankful for the group.  The savings from our "lady bank" in our cooperative has helped - I was able to use some to pay for some of my treatment for my uterus.  The group has blessed me because we share ideas and pray for one another.  God has helped me by bringing Beauty for Ashes to our village.

Is there anything else you would like to share with me?

There are other women in the group that need help.  I am praying that the program can help them too.

Joyce, you are so strong.  You are so kind for thinking about the other women in your group as well and for wanting help for your mother.  I can't wait to let my friends back home know how they can help - I know they will love you too and will want to pray for you and your family and your village.  Can I pray right now for you?

{ This is my favorite part.  It is so hard to hear of all the heartache and grief this woman has endured and not be able to immediately fix things for her.  But I can intercede and trust God's Spirit to meet her supernaturally in the moment and care for her heart, into the deepest hurts and needs that need love and healing.  And then she prays for ME and I'm so touched by her humility and care.  She prays for my safe travels back and for the chance to see me again.  AMEN! }

Acero Joyce and her children are part of Ogoloi B Village.  If you'd like to learn how you can help meet her specific needs for medical care or school fees for her children, or other ways in which you can serve BFAU, click here for more information.  And of course, pray!  Pray and play a part in God's extravagant love to Joyce and the women of Ogoloi B Village.

Michelle NeeseComment