5 years ago when he ran for the presidency, one of Barack Obama’s main campaign slogans was ‘hope’. Against the backdrop of 2 failing wars in the Middle East, and the largest economic crisis ever seen, at times, it felt like a breath of fresh air. But deep down, my western cynicism questioned how real this hope could be.
In September, I met Beatrice, a Ugandan granny who showed me what a life of hope could look like.
Beatrice’s daughters used to have walk for 3 hours each day down a steep mountain track to get water. As well as worried about their challenging walk, Beatrice really feared them getting attacked by local boys while walking alone and vulnerable in the huge mountains they lived in.
However, Beatrice joined a local women’s group run by her local church. They trained her to build a cement water tank to catch the rain water from her roof. Now she would have clean water every day and her girls could go to school free from fear..
But Beatrice didn’t stop there. She and some of the women went to local villages and offered to built water tanks for them. This meant the other villagers got clean water and Beatrice got enough money to feed her family for the first time ever.
Having established their businesses, Beatrice’s group work began to work together for the wider community. The fridge where the local children’s immunisations were stored went missing from the local clinic - Beatrice and her friends organised a campaign and it returned the next day. They set up a craft business to generate new income, lobbied successfully for better educational standards at the local school, set up a counselling service for women who are HIV + and became leaders in their local church. Almost unbelievably, 12 out of the 15 women in her group are now local councillors!
Before she joined the group Beatrice said she felt low self esteem and fear - now she feels hope.
In the Bible, the apostle Peter says that God gives us ‘living hope through the resurrection of Jesus’. God’s hope is an offer of new life; of renewal ; an invitation to become the person who God always created you to be.
Beatrice’s local church shared God’s hope of a new life with her and helped her develop the inner strength and practical skills to flourish and thrive. Now Beatrice - successful business woman, consummate politician, active christian leader, empathic counsellor, loving mother and grandmother - is a living example of hope.
I wonder what Barak Obama would think of Beatrice’s hope filled life….