To mark International Women’s Day, we hear the stories of two women in Myanmar who are courageously expressing their God-given abilities amidst a conflict that’s wrought havoc across a nation…
A project by Open Doors local partners inspired Thida to resume her business selling groceries
“Memories of that day are still vivid,” recalls Pari*. “Sometimes it stops me from eating and disturbs me in my sleep. I cannot help but weep silently, when I relive those moments.”
That day, Pari and her family – together with other families from the village – had no option but to flee their homes in Myanmar. “Every other day there were bomb attacks or incidents of shooting,” shares Pari.
After two days living in a forest, Pari and her family arrived at a displacement camp where Open Doors local partners helped them, and many others like them, with medicines, food and tin sheets so they could build shelters. “All these were so valuable to us, thank you,” says Pari.
After a few months, as children began going to a local school, Pari identified an opportunity to use her gifts and skills to further help these children – and tell them about Jesus.
“I started evening tuition classes for our children,” she explains. “These children have food in the morning and go to school, they return in the afternoon and rest. Evening is the best time to bring them together in a hut, where I help them learn better the things that were taught in the school.
“This is a voluntarily initiative by me, since I see so much need. However, I see the children enjoy it and they end up staying longer, playing with each other as if lives were back to normal.
“I believe teachings from the Bible during these times is vital, therefore I conduct small devotions with them every day; I teach them Bible verses and encourage them to know God better. I also help them memorise verses from Psalms. I teach them to obey parents and how good manners are important despite all the difficulties they might have to face in life.”
“Life continues to remain challenging and I do question God about when this war will end. However, I do not have bitterness towards Him. I believe God can make everything whole again.”
Thida* is another woman from Myanmar who was forced from her village because of the country’s ongoing civil war.
“Back in my village the bombings are just so frequent,” she says. “Military and pro-democratic groups randomly throw bombs just anywhere. The two groups try to kill each other but the civilians are the ones that are impacted the most as we live in their warzone and each suspect us of being in the other group… Living every day in fear was unbearable.”
Thida and her family live elsewhere now, where it’s safer, but her husband and son make regular trips back to their village to check on their home and make sure it hasn’t been looted. With people stripped of their livelihoods, theft has become increasingly common.
"Living every day in fear was unbearable" Thida
But as a church leader in the village, there’s another reason Thida’s husband makes frequent trips home. “He has to visit and encourage many of the believer families from our church who are still stuck in the village because it is too risky for everyone to leave,” explains Thida. “It is important for him to go, therefore I do not stop him, but I pray for my family every day.”
Despite having to move away from home, Thida has been able to resume a business so she can provide for her family as well as help others – and the impetus for this comes from a project run by Open Doors local partners.
“I buy and sell groceries,” she says. “I used to do this business many years ago, but I had stopped doing it as I had started running into losses; however then I attended this entrepreneurship training conducted by Open Doors partners. I was so encouraged after the training that I resumed my business again. During the training they also taught us how to save money and plan for the future. I could also help other families with my savings.
“The partners also helped me by providing me with some groceries which I was able to sell at the higher price,” she continues. “I utilised the profit to expand the business further. There were many challenges because of the migration and price hike but I was able to look for options and sustain my business. I earn enough to support my family while my husband concentrates on ministry work.”
Pari’s and Thida’s stories offer an insight into the way your support is providing practical support to Christians affected by the conflict in Myanmar, but also how it’s empowering women across the world to express their God-given gifts. This is why our See.Change. campaign is so vital, as it seeks to honour our sisters’ worth in God’s eyes and show them the difference they can make to their families, communities and nations. Thank you for your incredible support.
*Names changed for security reasons
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