50-year-old Jellia’s Story:

“Before I joined UWOPED, I had a lot of stress in my life that made me weak. I did not have the courage to do things I needed to in my life. I worried about how I would feed my children and grandchildren without work. My husband abandoned us, so the responsibility is up to me whether I have the money or not. Some years into our marriage he changed. He began refusing to pay our children’s school fees. I kept the question – What am I going to do? – to myself. I told myself to be strong, that I would handle it.

Two years ago, I was introduced to UWOPED at a community meeting. One of the first things Brenda taught me was meditation. The practice had made me very happy. It felt like I had been sleeping and my mind woke up. I was unburdened. With meditation practice, I have become strong and empowered. I feel that I can do anything, handle anything – I am happy and calm inside. Meditation has taught me how to be more creative in my approach to life and its challenges.

The community of UWOPED is also a support group for me – we talk, we counsel each other. Women are not treated well in my community, where I have lived for thirty years. When a woman wants to work to better her family, the husband won’t allow it. They want us to stay at homes like slaves. For single mothers, some very young, domestic violence, drug addiction, prostitution are daily life here. For many women their bodies are their livelihoods. We need to be educated in business and reduce our stress to be self-sustainable.

UWOPED addresses this and because of them I am surviving.”

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