My New Friend Beatha
The first day I met Beatha, I noticed it was rare not to see her smiling. And, by the way, she has a great smile. I haven’t exchanged many words directly with her, but just by being in her presence it’s easy to get the sense of joy she has. Her face and eyes are so vibrant, as if she’s taking everything in for the first time. Beatha recently made a decision to follow Christ and was baptized, along with 2 other girls from Peace House.
Within the past week, I’ve learned a bit about Beatha’s life before she became involved with Peace House. When she gave birth to her daughter several years ago, Beatha had no place to live. Many of the nicer homes in Rwanda have an outdoor bathroom in addition to their indoor ones. I’ve only been in a few of the outdoor ones myself, but I can verify they are several steps below any port-a-john you’ve used in America. Beatha found a house that left their gate unlocked at night, and so she would sneak through into the yard with her baby and sleep in the outdoor bathroom. Beatha said that because the bathroom was unsanitary many nights, she would stand all night long just holding her daughter. Hoping to remain undiscovered, Beatha would sneak back out of the gate around 4 each morning. She felt it was safer for them to spend the night there than any place else she could find on the streets.
Last week Beatha told me that learning to sew has caused her to gain a lot of weight! Personally, I’ve been thinking that all the hand-sewing for hours every day was beginning to give me carpal tunnel, and the weight gain was coming more from the 4 potatoes I’ve been served daily at lunch! After getting some explanation, I understood that Beatha equates being successful with being overweight. Beatha knows that learning to sew has the potential to help her make more money than she ever has before, essentially making her the most successful she’s ever been.
She was very excited that she’ll be able to fix her daughters clothes on her own and sew on buttons. Currently, she’s been paying a seamstress friend to do those tasks for her. After our first day of sewing lessons, Beatha went straight to her seamstress friend’s house to show off the stitches she'd learned and to say proudly that she would never pay to have it done again. As she was telling me that story, the beautiful Beatha smile that I thought couldn’t get any bigger stretched even wider across her face and she was beaming!
I can barely believe the Beatha who spent those nights holding her baby in a bathroom is the same vibrant, joyous person I’ve recently come to know. She now has Hope. Not just because of what she’s learned, but because the Gospel has given her a new perspective on life and herself.