I remember seeing Papri*, head covered by her shawl, listening reverently to the parable about the three men who received ten, five, and one opportunities to serve… but only two of those men used their opportunities well.
Papri faces huge health challenges in her volunteer work. In her country less than half of the homes have latrines, more than half of the children are stunted before they reach the age of two, and people fill their bellies with rice but lack fruits and vegetables. Yet, she is bravely proud of the five days of health training she uses and is courageously teaching pregnant moms that the first breast milk is so important to feed their babies, how to compliment breast milk when infants reach six months, that they have right to the Vitamin A, Iron, and Folic Acid pills at the government clinics, that they must vaccinate their children. She even teaches the men that it’s important to let their pregnant wives rest two hours each afternoon and that they must not expect them to carry heavy buckets of water. She reminds me that I’ve been given so many opportunities to serve and that, like her, I must fight against inertia and the attitude of indifference.
The courageous attitude of this woman and of the hundreds of community health volunteers that World Renew and its partners have trained in Bangladesh have produced palpable improvements in their communities. Maybe, there are some parable-like parts of their stories to ponder for those who are no longer poor:
Parable of overcoming flies and filth by working together – Flies used to sit on the food, mothers and children were always sick. But now things are much cleaner because of working together as whole communities to put the teaching they have received into practice.
Parable about working with key decision makers in families – Mothers-in-law used to blame the wives if girl children were born and even recommend to that their sons divorce the wife and marry another. But, now mothers-in-law also come to the health classes to learn about healthy feeding practices for the children… and now those son/husbands listen more often to their wives.
Parable about awareness of local resources and mobilizing – Most poor people used to accept that corruption meant that resources like vitamin pills intended for them did not reach them, but now they have the self-confidence to insist on access.
Asia Ministry Team Leader
*not her real name