Local students help rescued women overseas

From Corban College, Salem

A small group of Corban students have launched a project to provide for the material needs of women “rescued” after the Papuan government shut down a brothel in the village of Jayapura.

The women and their 47 children were left homeless and destitute. Corban Papuan student Miké Toam and four other students wrote up a sustainable and transferable plan that can be used not only in Jayapura, but also in other villages and towns across Papua.

The students are leveraging an assignment from Dr. Allen Jones in their Fall 2015 Feminism and the Bible class. Jones encouraged students to find a project that specifically ends the injustice of women.  

“We talk a lot about preparing students to make a difference in the world after we graduate,” Hannah Madsen said. “But Dr. Jones was saying ‘you can do that right now!’”

The problem 

The closing of the brothel came to Toam’s attention when she drove past the building with her father last summer. When Jones introduced the assignment, this issue in Papua immediately came to mind, Toam said.

The government offered to assist the women to return home to their families, but for many of them it’s too shameful.

“Many of the women would not accept the government’s offer,” Toam said. “They want to work and provide for their families.”

Simply getting a different job isn’t easy.

“It’s hard for women, especially on my island, to get a job,” she said. “If both a woman and a man apply, it’s almost certain the man will get hired.”

The solution 

The team’s official proposal has been translated and delivered and approved by the Papuan government. With approval now in hand, they are waiting to secure land to be used by the women as a garden and village market.

The idea of the garden came from a survey the team did where the women voiced they all enjoy cooking, baking and gardening. The Corban students have also arranged for multiple training sessions for the women by the government’s agricultural department.

A church in Yakonde, named Ebenhaezer Yakonde, has promised to provide gardening supplies.

Once the land has been approved, Toam’s father, who works in Papua’s government, will let her know.

Toam has been disappointed that the process hasn’t moved more quickly.

“The women were so excited that they were going to do something,” she said. She tried to think of what she and her team could do in the meantime but ultimately, everything has to go back to the government to be approved. Her father encouraged the team that it really was best to wait, but is confident it will be approved by the end of February.

There is definitely hope, Toam believes.

“When the women hear about this program, they light up,” she said. “I feel joy. It’s a sense of hope.”

Madsen believes it’s obvious that God’s hand has been involved in the project from the beginning.

“Our prayer was that God would do what He wanted,” she said, “and He obviously is.”

Madsen also feels confident about the progression of the project.

“God is faithful,” Madsen said. “He loves these women more than we ever could. He will take care of them.”

To stay updated on details about housing and how other needs are met, “Like” Corban University on Facebook.

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