Read Time: 3 min.
Growing up in India, Beula loved the fresh air and wide-open spaces of her beloved rural village. When she was 21 years old, Beula married and moved to the city to be with her new husband. But she struggled to adjust to her new life in their 10-foot by 10-foot home in the slum with no proper water supply, toilets, nor electricity. In spite of their tiny sizes, the one-room homes in the slums were far too expensive for Beula and her husband to purchase a home of their own. Even their rent was too much for her husband to afford without help.
Searching for Hope
So Beula searched for a way to help her husband make ends meet. Like many areas of extreme poverty, there were factory jobs available nearby, but many of them took advantage of their workers, knowing the men and women from the slums were often willing to tolerate poor wages, unreasonable hours and sometimes even unsafe working conditions, because they had no other choice.
Meeting a Missionary from Spain
As a young girl, Beula had learned the craft of manual stitching and stitching with a foot paddle sewing machine. Growing up, she often made her own clothes. These skills helped her find a job as a quality inspector in a nearby clothing factory. But she had to work twelve hours every day, standing on her feet the entire time, to help provide for their family’s essential needs. Beula was overworked, underpaid, and exhausted when a neighbor recognized her misery and introduced her to a small group of women who had just formed a sewing cooperative to help local women, like Beula, become financially independent.
A missionary from Spain had recently moved to the slum where Beula lived. Moved with compassion as she walked through the streets of their neighborhoods, this missionary felt called to come live among the families in these slums and encourage them. She befriended the local children and as she met many of their mothers, she became determined to help these local women find ways to empower themselves and their families out of poverty and the misery she had witnessed them experiencing… hunger, sickness, abuse, neglect, lack, helplessness, and hopelessness. This missionary and other volunteers were teaching local women from the slums how to sew dolls and soft toys to earn enough income to become financially independent.
Discovering Friendship and Self-Confidence
In this workshop, Beula discovered a network of women who cared about and supported each other through thick an thin. It was nothing like her previous workplace. She not only earned a living wage, but was treated with dignity and respect. She enjoyed her work and her self-confidence grew. The women not only taught her new Artisan skills, but also how to speak their local Hindi language. Until then, Beula had not been able to interact with the local women because of her language barrier.
Learning, Growing, and Succeeding
Beula continued to grow her tailoring skills for the next seven years.
Over time, she learned how to stitch on a power sewing machine.
Her productivity and self-confidence increased even more.
Beula’s hard work and determination paid off when she was promoted to lead the women of her local tailoring cooperative of twenty-five women.
Although, she was uncertain and intimidated by this new leadership role, she continued to grow in her skills and responsibility, pusuing excellence in everything she put her hand to.
Ten years later, Beula was elected as a member of the board of trustees. Now, she’s a board member who helps lead this women’s Artisan cooperative that empowers over 700 women from the slum where Beula’s journey of hope began. But as much as Beula has accomplished in her career, she celebrates her personal accomplishments even more.
Her Dreams Become Reality
Like so many of the women in the slums of India, Beula’s greatest motivation has been to help support her husband and provide their children with a better life. They dreamed of providing their children with a good education. Because of her work as an Artisan, their oldest son, Jabin, 27, has been able to complete his management studies and their youngest son, Jijin, 24, has completed his degree in Software Engineering. Both sons are on their way to buidling successful careers.
Beula can’t imagine what their lives would have been like if her neighbor had never introduced that day to a missionary from Spain and a small group of women who were also hungry for hope. Her work has made it possible for her husband to continue his work in their community church as a patient care worker. Together, Beula and her husband have empowered their children with education, health care, and best of all, an inspiring example of what an empowered and encouraged woman with humble beginnings can accomplish if she’s willing to take an opportunity to learn and grow… and never give up.