“Women are not just victims of war, as some aspects of their experiences are empowering and can be used as a resource for healing and transformation. Their role must be recognized as a resource.”
As you begin your prayer today, remember that you are in God’s holy presence. Become aware of how God gazes on you all the time, how tenderly and powerfully God regards you. Ask God for what you want in prayer:
Ask God to recognize and know the Lord Jesus as your mentor for a life of love and service.
By Merlys Mosquera
Jesuit Refugee Service Latin America and Caribbean Assistant Director
Caracas, 15 November 2010 – In Spanish, the word aridez means dryness, sterility or lack of humidity. But Aridez is also a woman’s name.
Aridez is a woman who arrived in Venezuela as a refugee in 2003, during those years when JRS welcomed numerous people fleeing the violence in neighbouring Colombia. At that time personal accounts of harassment, persecution and massacres at the hands of guerrillas and paramilitaries were part and parcel of our work on the border.
Aridez arrived in Venezuela with her soul and spirit shrivelled by the traumatic death of her husband and the disappearances of her eldest son and twin sister. She also brought with her the cross of her own sorrows and those of her two younger children. She was part of a very large family of almost forty members who also came with her. But she felt alone and empty. The only meaning she could find in her life was from the presence of her two children.
Aridez’s situation was extremely difficult because all her family were busy with their own needs. Nobody had time to care for the other, and in her case she needed special attention as she began to show signs of schizophrenia and mental imbalance. Desperation led her to wander alone around the city for days. Nobody knew where she went or what she did during those times. Her elderly parents looked after her children and told visitors she had gone back to Colombia to look for her sister and eldest son.
In order to address this situation, JRS sought psychiatric help for Aridez. At first, she did not cooperate, but gradually her medication helped her to recover a positive outlook. No longer having a husband to look after the family, she realised that she had to find a job. With her eight year-old son, she began to sell fish in the city market and took part in the JRS micro-credit program.
With this support, psychiatric help and participation in the JRS women’s empowerment programs, Aridez rediscovered her inner strength and was able feed her children and send them to school. But there is more to her story: four years later, Aridez was the only member of her family to have built a permanent home on her own plot of land. Her children were the best students in school and now she was able to take care of her parents! Finally, her sister miraculously reappeared.
As JRS staff, we travelled with Aridez about four hours every two weeks so that she could visit her doctor. During these trips, I discovered that Aridez was a woman of profound faith and great human qualities. Often she has told me that it was not her who picked up the pieces, but our Lord Jesus who gave her the strength to do these things, helping her find the enthusiasm to once again take hold of her life and get herself up for work day after day.
Like Aridez, many refugee women who attend JRS training courses feel invited and sent by Jesus to rebuild their lives — “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 8:48). They recognise the their faith gives them the strength to build paths towards reconciliation, salvation and forgiveness — just like that woman in the crowd who touched Jesus and recognised in Him the only sure hope of being healed.
Address God as a friend speaks to a friend.
Talk to God about your response, your own needs and your deepest desires.
End your prayer with the Our Father, the prayer Jesus taught us.
Luke 8: 43-48
As Jesus went, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman afflicted with haemorrhages for twelve years, who had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and was unable to be cured by anyone, came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped. Jesus then asked, "Who touched me?" While all were denying it, Peter said, "Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you." But Jesus said, "Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me." When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling. Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace."
"Women are not just victims of war, as some aspects of their experiences are empowering and can be used as a resource for healing and transformation. Their role must be recognized as a resource." ~ War Has Changed Our Life, Not Our Spirit: Experiences of Forcibly Displaced Women, Jesuit Refugee Service.