Our God is undoubtedly a God of justice. Having volunteered with Tearfund last year, Elspeth (24) tells of the incredible journey she took alongside stewards of justice in South America. From working with our Bolivian partner, ‘Mosoj Yan’ helping to uphold woman’s rights and freedoms she now champions gender equality back in the UK.
An almost instant attraction – after Hayley (a good friend of mine) pointed me to Tearfund’s ICS programme I felt immediately drawn towards Bolivia, the home of a powerful charity, ‘Mosoj Yan’, or ‘New Road’ in Quechuan. I came to realize just HOW much this name meant for the people of Bolivia…
For a country that boasts stunning vibrancy of culture in every dimension and raw natural beauty, Bolivia falls down on perhaps one character – where machismo attitudes leads to an accepted suppression of women.
However not all are in support. Tearfund’s partner, ‘Mosoj Yan’ is a charity dedicated to working solely with and for women in Bolivia.
There is something fundamentally beautiful and brave about that – a charity that stands against the cultural norms of the majority and shouts ‘This isn’t right!’
Through three different centres, Mosoj Yan aims to empower and defend vulnerable young women, teaching them basic human rights, as well as restoring dignity to those who have suffered injustices against them.
My piece in the puzzle
Soon after hearing about this amazing charity I found myself boarding the plane to Cochabamba, where I would be living and working for the next two and a half months. Our ICS team was split up to work on different projects, all run by Mosoj Yan. Myself and Hayley found ourselves in their ‘Restoration Centre’ and it was really from this point on that I felt a huge paradigm shift in my perception of the world.
The Restoration centre, known as ‘Casa Albergue’ in Spanish, is in essence a safe house for fifteen 13-18 year old girls all of which have been abused in some way – and most, sexually, often within their own families…
The centre comes to be their home, a place of safety and comfort, for as long as two years. The stark reality of this abuse was hard to even comprehend. We hear in the news all the time, horrific stories of rape and violence, but it’s easy to separate yourself from it. That is, until the person who’s been wronged is sitting right in front of you…
My time spent in the Restoration Centre was challenging, not only emotionally but also from a spiritual perspective.
In such circumstances of unimaginable pain, you find yourself questioning, ‘Where is God in all of this?’
I found myself asking that question a lot. But as I witnessed this small group of dedicated Christians working tirelessly to demonstrate the love of Jesus in helping these broken girls, I saw first-hand how God was alive and active in Cochabamba.
Coming back from Bolivia, filled with the fresh memories of the country, both abuse and healing, I felt a compelling sense of responsibility. I once heard this quote:
“I said ‘Somebody should do something about that.’ Then I realized I AM somebody.”
This was completely how I felt. Out of my experience in Bolivia I now volunteer once a week with a UK charity called ‘Restored’ that strives to promote gender equality here at home. With them I’ve helped to curate a photo exhibition currently on in Central London, show casing photos of organisations working to end violence against women across the globe.
My time spent on Tearfund ICS has clearly changed me and helped me gain direction for my life here in the UK. I would encourage anyone and everyone to take the risk and Go For It.