by Joy Casey
Joy has been in Uganda with Wick Nease of Streams of Mercy, learning about Income Generating Activities (IGA’s) that can be implemented in Ethiopia. You can read more about the Streams of Mercy team in Uganda on their blog here.
Olivia is a ball of energy with a huge smile. I liked her immediately. She was married to a policeman with whom she had seven daughters and they lived a typical rural life in the Ugandan countryside and owned a grass hut on her husband's family's property. About ten years ago, Olivia's husband got very sick and quickly died .... of AIDS. Olivia was shocked, not knowing he was infected. They had just had their seventh little girl who was only months old when he died. Olivia was encouraged to be tested for HIV and was devastated when she tested positive. The child she recently gave birth to also was HIV positive. With the death of her husband, her in-laws tried to take Olivia's house and force her off the property. Because she had only daughters, her husband's family had no use for them - they planted snakes in her house and had the witch doctor cast spells.
It was at this point that Sam Kisolo, the YWAM director for Uganda, became acquainted with Olivia and her girls. She was sick and trying to keep a roof over her family's head and was barely able to feed her children. Sam got medication for her and her baby girl and through his ministrations, Olivia gave her life over to Jesus Christ. From that point onward, she battled the attacks her husband's family barraged her with and grew strong spiritually.
She was given a small micro loan of about $160 and she planted pineapples and sold them. After paying back the loan, she asked for another loan to purchase a small piece of land adjacent to her property and planted coffee. She not only sold the coffee but purchased coffee from other farmers and waited until the market value was high and then sold it, making a handsome profit on coffee. She again paid back her loan and asked for another, this time buying a cow. Habitat for Humanity approved her to build a house. Olivia tore down her stick and mud hut and now has a handsome brick house with a tin roof and cement floor. She has just recently constructed a brick cook house to replace the smoke filled, broken down one she had used for years. She is selling crops in the market, buying coffee for re-sale and has a bicycle to better conduct her business.
Her in-laws have given up trying to get her off her inherited property and now her mother-in-law is quite sick. Olivia faithfully cares for her and makes sure her husband's family has enough to eat. Her daughters are growing up intimately knowing the Lord and loving Him. Olivia is giving her daughters a great inheritance, not only spiritually but also by showing them how a woman who is not afraid of hard work can make a success of her life even when circumstances are less than ideal.
It was wonderful spending time with this great lady! Meeting her was an encouragement to give similar opportunities to widows in Addis through our Adoption Ministry 1:27 program. I know that giving small loans to industrious women can make a huge difference in ther lives long term.