by Becky Burns

In the rural village in Ethiopia where our kindergarten is located, to be a wife and mother is to shoulder a heavy burden.  The living conditions in and around the village are completely unimaginable to someone with first-world sensibilities.  I’ve been thinking… What if I were one of these women?

I am a follower of Islam. My husband had multiple wives and each of us have ten children or more.

All of the families in my village live in extreme poverty since the only way to eke out a living is by cultivating a small plot of arid farmland.

Maize is the most common crop and the staple of our diet.  I’m lucky if I can give my children two meals a day – I give them dry roasted corn for one and corn with some sort of sauce for the second.

Homes in my village are one room stick and mud huts with a grass roof and dirt floor.  My children and I all sleep together on the ground and we share a few blankets.

We have no electricity and no running water. I make a long hike every day to the community well to purchase jugs of water and carry them back home.

I am now a widow.  My husband died after he was sick for a long time but we couldn’t find any treatment because there is no healthcare available.  Now the burden of raising my children falls on me alone.  I worry constantly about becoming sick myself – perhaps with malaria or something even worse.  I would have to rely on my neighbor or on one of my older children to take care of the younger ones.  What if they couldn’t help?

More than anything I want my children to be able to get an education.  I can’t afford to pay the fees for school and I really need my older children to help me with farming our land, fetching water and taking care of their youngest siblings.  But there is a school that was built here some years ago and my 5 year old was chosen to attend the kindergarten for free!  He gets a good lunch each day (something I can’t provide) and I am overjoyed and grateful that he is learning to read and write – something I cannot do!

Two very kind men come to visit me who call themselves followers of Isa (Jesus).  They spend time getting to know me, hearing about all of my concerns and then they pray to their God for me.  I have never heard anyone talk to God the way they do – so personally and with so much trust.  One woman I know became a follower of this Jesus and her entire family now claims Him as the One True God, even though this is very dangerous to do in our culture.

I can’t stop thinking about this – about a God who loves me enough to die for me, who cares about the things that worry me.  I want to know more.

We honor the strong, courageous women in rural Ethiopia.  None of them would claim those qualities but they are true heroes in our book.