By Sharon Yendevenge, World YWCA Programme Associate and member of the YWCA Papua New Guinea.
Life is a gift from God, a series of events that make up our precious lives. Life is a journey and not a destination as we think. Those events make up the journey of life. As we go into Easter, let us reflect on our own lives.
Walking through the journey of life is not easy, no one said life is easy and no one knows how to walk through it without encountering the obstacles of life. We sometimes judge our lives as worthless, full of labour, misery and without purpose. Only the one who created us knows the successes and the struggles. There is a purpose to life for everyone and a calling where we need to identify. You’ll never know what your calling is until you really sit down and reflect back on your life. Sometimes you do what you do but don’t actually realise until someone tells you. It may be a gift in music, singing, volleyball, swimming, serving others, healing and the list goes on. So for me, my journey of life was not easy and I have had learnt the hard way through.
Surviving in life and being content with what I have is the most important thing for me, I appreciate everyone around me who has contributed to my life including family, friends, those people whom I have worked with and my school life. I realised that I am most passionate about working with other people, especially young women including adolescent girls. I find it much easier to communicate with this age group and share my own experiences.
In my own country of Papua New Guinea (PNG), young women have a lack of knowledge and understanding on sexual and reproductive health rights and HIV and violence against women. This makes me wonder about the next generation if more than 50% of the young women in PNG are NOT informed of their rights. It is so scary to look at the statistics in STI’s and HIV and the violence faced by women every day. One in three women and girls will face violence or sexual abuse in their lives and very often don’t actually know where to run to or seek advice. Therefore, the only way we can help reduce such is to educate as many young women and girls as we can everyday through information sharing regardless of where we are and what tools we have. One conversation can save a thousand lives. No conversation and silence can destroy more than a thousand lives. Remember, a woman encounters so much during a day and yet can feed her family likewise a young woman and a girl also encounter violence but remain silent because of fear but manages to do her duties within her family. It may be your sister, mother, aunty, wife, grandmother, and girlfriend. No matter where we are in life and what our calling is, we have a purpose to serve, only then can we make a change. Together we can reduce the negativities of life.
We all need to pursue our dreams to fulfil our purpose in life. In helping both women, young women girls and men, young men and boys understand the realities of life. Having had the chance to listen to the many individuals I have come across (male/female, young /old) has brought tears, laughter, joy to me by sharing their stories – life stories. For the young, the events in their lives have been a lesson to learn and for the old, it has been a journey of lessons learned and some regrets. Considering the fact that life itself gave them hope and to move on and to share their stories to others has brought change and gave the other person hope in life. Our lives are meant to give hope to others through our stories and our actions.
Jesus himself led a life full of hope to the many and is a perfect example of hope. He gave hope to Martha and Mary by raising Lazarus from death to life. You may also have your stories in your journey of life that brings hope to others. If you still think you can’t make a change in a person’s life, then use this time, use your story to bring hope to others.