ER Director of Women’s Advocacy Kelly McClelland just returned from a trip to the Philippines to visit our ER Asia staff, including Regional Director Joshua Benevidez and his wife Anne. Kelly shares some of the impact she experienced.
By Kelly McClelland
Last week, I spent a day with several women living in deep poverty. For these gals, every day is a struggle to obtain food, decent shelter and necessities that we take for granted. I would feel hopeless if I was in their situation, but these women were full of joy.
Let me explain a little about Golden Hands Sewing. This group is the result of the vision, compassion and hard work of our ER Asia staff. Golden Hands was created in order to help women escape abject poverty.
I spent 13 hours with the women, providing teaching, encouragement and a listening ear. We invited them to a luncheon at a local mall and it was evident many had not been to a mall or a restaurant. Looking at the menus generated both confusion and shyness. All the ladies ate half their meals and saved the other half to take home. It was humbling to see them react in such a gracious manner.
Throughout the day, the women worked on making skirts. They were like busy bees, cutting patterns, sewing and humming songs that lifted my heart. Even though they have nothing, they have everything. I was undone by their joyful spirits.
The previous night, I had dinner with Joshua and Anne. We experienced a beautiful sunset against the ocean. As dinner progressed, Joshua and Anne shared their love story of pain, sacrifice and rejection as they entered into full-time service to the poor.
As I reflected on their journey, my mind revisited scenes from earlier in the day. Anne and I had passed a man washing his clothes in a little plastic bowl. It appeared he was living next to a parked new car. The contrast was stark.
I also noticed a teenager sleeping on the sidewalk in broad daylight. It’s very possible he has been living on the sidewalk since he was a little boy. My heart sank as I thought about his life. In the Philippines, street children are rampant because of extreme poverty.
But my spirit was quickly buoyed with gratitude for Joshua and Anne because of their tender hearts for people living in desperate conditions. Like the rest of the ER Asia staff and our partners, they are committed to helping rescue street kids and adults, as well as people living in squatter communities.
To those of you who have supported the work of ER’s Extreme Women, thank you so much for your investment into the lives of people who need our compassion and help. Golden Hands is one example of how we are changing lives by working together. We have many other initiatives, partners and short-term team opportunities taking place around the world. We’d love to have you join us.
For additional information on Extreme Women and how you can get involved, please contact Kelly McClelland at a firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.extremeresponse.org/our-programs/womens-advocacy.