Empowering 150 Vulnerable Women in South Sudan

by | Mar 6, 2024

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Heather outside of Morwari church in South Sudan.

Written by Heather Lewandowski

– Women and Children Program Specialist

In February 2024, I landed on the continent of Africa for the first time. My eyes welled up as the wheels hit the runway, and we landed in this far-off country. A girl from a small town was now flying across the world to a place few get to see. I was truly humbled and in awe of this sacred privilege.

White Nile over South Sudan

Everyone deserves access to the Gospel regardless of age, gender, economic background, or where they live. South Sudan is a place where the government is collapsing, peace is fragile, and scarcity abounds. According to a report from USAID, “It is estimated only around 8% of women in South Sudan are literate, possibly the lowest female literacy rate in the world.” Amid this chaotic climate, I observed women in their day-to-day lives—mothers carrying babies on their backs, baskets piled high on their heads, navigating the dusty roads to their homes in these hard-to-reach villages. As I caught their eyes, I could see myself in them. Our differences are created only by the places we happened to be born.

The purpose of this Petros Network trip was to learn, observe, meet, and equip our local leaders in South Sudan. I got the pleasure of connecting with one of our newly hired staff, Sofi.

Sofi is the Women’s Empowerment Coordinator in South Sudan. At 26, she has a smile that lights up a room and a gentle, bold spirit. Before starting at Petros Network, she would sell Mandazi (fried bread) on the streets to pay for her studies. Sitting with her and listening to her talk, you can hear her passion for reaching women. Her heart is especially soft for young women who, in this culture, get married very young. She also wants to reach and change the lives of mothers who need support to care for themselves and their families in a place where women are not very valued and have few rights.

Sofi, Petros Network Women's Empowerment Coordinator in South Sudan

Sofi is a hard worker, proactive, and full of initiative. She started in November and already has five groups totaling almost 150 ladies that meet at various church plants and sites scattered throughout the area. Some places are very rural; walking can take hours, and a motorcycle ride can take up to 90 minutes to get there. Sofi is a gift; we are blessed to have her on our team. With her leading this initiative, our strategy is to launch village savings groups to create a system where women can save, budget, and borrow money.

During the trip, we had the opportunity to visit a church plant in Mowari where Sofi ministers to women. It is a humble church made out of brick and sticks with a simple cross at the top. Inside, it is decorated with tissue paper artfully stapled into loops and packed with women who sing and dance —their hunger for Jesus is evident. We saw first-hand how Sofi ministers in song, encouragement, and practical education.

When interviewing one of the women, I asked them how they made money. The translator said many leave their families, hike to the hills several miles away, and gather sticks, which they burn to create charcoal. They sell this charcoal in the local markets. This is difficult and dangerous work. There are wild animals in the tall brush that they must watch out for. While traveling to the hills, they are also vulnerable to attack and assault. Our women’s empowerment program helps create better and safer revenue streams for these women and their families, so this isn’t their only option.

Please pray for Sofi. Specifically for strength and protection and for her to raise and train leaders all over South Sudan to reach hundreds of women and impact this nation.

Sofi teaching about budget management

Pictured above is Sofi teaching our the ladies about budget management.

Help Us Change HER World

Petros Network has taken strategic steps to reverse the trends facing most women in the villages where we have planted churches. Women are provided life skills, business training, and microgrants to create sustainable livelihoods that benefit the entire family.

Together, we can help change the world for women and girls living under the constraints of generational poverty and traditional practices that are unfair to women.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This