I have had the privilege of teaching at most of the EMIT Women Leadership Institutes. Going from project to project, meeting people, noticing differences in culture, taking in the art, songs, hearts, resilience, needs, laughter, tears, creativity, struggles, traffic, survival, humor, and everyday life. By far the highlight of my work is teaching a course on understanding Emotional Trauma. In the communities where we work, emotional trauma seems an everyday part of women’s lives, but it goes largely unacknowledged. In the last three years, I have seen God use the power of “acknowledging” to bring healing.
There is power when women look at each other and really see each other– truly seeing the effects of emotional wounds. There is healing when women reject the lie that one must suffer alone- the lie that says heart wounds equals shame, and shame equals loss of worth. There is healing God brings when we open our hearts to others– when the women I work with open their broken hearts to me and I open my broken heart to them, we are connected in sisterhood.
But the healing does not end there. 2 Corinthians 1 says: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
After the launch of our Women Leadership Institute in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, many of the women decided to immediately put the training to use by creating an “Alliance for Women.” This alliance will enable them to work together as they change their communities by creating healing groups for traumatized women and advocating for those who cannot yet advocate for themselves.
Please, do not think of women in Africa only as victims. Life can be terribly difficult here but in the face of this, I have met some of the most amazing, strong, and resilient women. Africa is changing fast. It is developing and growing in all areas, and African women are at the heart of it!
By Lydia Brown