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Holistic Ministry – Literacy, Healthcare and Ducks!

Teaching older children.

Why would a literacy trainer need to know how to give injections to ducks?

Miss Wind is a young lady from a people group which is spread across neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia. The 22,000 members of this group in her country are largely marginalised, with many living in poverty in remote villages. Fewer than 2% of the people are Christians, and they face discrimination when seeking employment. Low literacy levels contribute to their poverty. Although the translation of the whole Bible was completed in 2014, it is in a Roman script which few can read.

Miss Wind, a third-generation Christian, partnered with foreign missionaries in a city for several years to train literacy teachers from among her own people. The original plan was to train a few from each village to teach other villagers how to read the Roman script Bible. After some time, she realised that this strategy was not very effective as these teachers often got too busy with their lives after returning home and did not persevere with teaching. It became her prayer and dream to move to a village to live among her people.

A year ago, her prayer was answered! She was finally able to move to a village and model the type of ministry she and her partners envisaged – integrating literacy training, scripture engagement and community development in a holistic ministry. She hopes that this will transform the lives of the villagers, not only through encountering God through the scriptures, but also through improving their overall health and well being.

In previous visits, she had already built relationships with the local believers in this village, and the local pastor allowed her to have a little house built near the church for herself and a female friend. Living here, she is able to train villagers from three nearby villages to be literacy teachers, supervise them more closely, and provide immediate help and advice when they encounter difficulties.

Teaching younger children in her home.

The nearest school is half an hour’s walk away along a dangerous highway, and many of the younger children do not go to school. So Miss Wind decided to teach some of the village children on weekdays to read both the national language and Roman scripts, and also some arithmetic. She also integrates literacy training with Sunday school lessons. About 80 children ranging from 4 to 14 years old come to her house on weekdays or attend the church on Sundays.

Injecting a duck.

She also engages the children in a variety of livelihood projects, partly to generate some income for their families, and partly because they are more open to learning new skills and techniques than the older people. So far, they have helped her grow vegetables, raise chickens and ducks, and prepare the feed. She is also exploring the possibility of raising pigs. Being a town-bred lady, the learning curve has been very steep, and she has had to deal with a number of unexpected difficulties – for example, her ducks suffered from “duck arthritis”, and she had to learn to inject each one with medicine!

Miss Wind also works with the ladies in the village, integrating literacy with lessons about healthcare and hygiene. Recently, she arranged for a village woman to learn dressmaking in the town. The plan is for her to teach the other women so they can earn some additional income from tailoring jobs.

In the short time Miss Wind has lived in this village, she has developed good relationships with her neighbours. One family who had been opposed to Christians has allowed their children to attend her classes, and their children are coming to faith. Although her livelihood projects have yet to bear much fruit, she rejoices in the opportunities they give her to spend time with the children and women, and be the catalyst for transformation in both their physical as well as spiritual lives.

Wycliffe Singapore supports work among minority groups in a number of countries to bring them God’s word in their heart languages. Find out more about supporting a project here.

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