God’s answer to the hidden desire of one Roma woman’s heart.
The Roma community in Europe is often classified as the most economically depressed. Unemployment, untreated medical issues and unforgiving living conditions are constant problems they must face.
These are not the only obstacles for members of the community. Lack of education and illiteracy is another, particularly for those who have aged out of the school system.
In response to this often unseen community, World Challenge partners with local ministries and churches that are working with the Roma people to find solutions.
Looking at the Past
In an Albanian Roma community, a girl was getting married.
Jemile was fifteen, but a bride this age wasn’t unusual. Neither was the fact that she had never learned to read or write. She soon had three children.
As she began looking for work, Jemile was often confronted by employers with pointed questions like “What school did you go to?” or “What kind of professional experience do you have?”
As her own children grew older and began attending school, they would ask her for help with their homework. Jemile confessed, “I felt like such a disappointment, so hopeless and worthless.”
She took her kids to the neighbors to do their homework, bitterly regretting her own absent education.
Now she was a married woman and a mother, though. Life had moved on, and it was impossible to fix the past.
A Door Opens
The issue of literacy came up among one of World Challenge’s partner ministries. Some leaders had noticed that adults in their Bible studies were facing difficulties while trying to follow along with the group in their Bibles.
The lack of this skill could be seriously affecting Roma individuals as they were looking for jobs or when they needed to sign papers at any medical center.
Illiteracy could be one of the biggest obstacles in their lives.
The team got together with the pastor of a local church. After some prayer and discussion, they decided to offer a literacy course for anyone who was interested.
News about the free reading and writing class traveled quickly, and when Jemile heard about it, she could hardly believe her ears.
“The wish that was dead had suddenly come back to life,” she said, describing that moment. “God, you are making my dream come true. For so many years I fought with myself, felt pain and guilt that I couldn’t turn back time and corrects the mistakes I had made. But here—here at last!—was the door to change my life.”
A Triumphant Journey
When the course opened, Jemile was first in line to register along with seven other people. Her daughter was struggling with writing and reading in school, so Jemile brought her as well.
However, Jemile was plagued by serious doubts. She had been away from school for a long time. “I thought I would never make it, but the team always encourages me.”
Together with her daughter, Alesia, Jemile is making progress.
“It’s a little strange,” Alesia said, “to be studying letters together. But I like that we are both learning how to write and read.”
Now Alesia is feeling more confident in class, thanks to the extra help. Her teachers say that she has improved a lot, and she is attending school regularly now. Her mother has impressed on her the real importance of education.
For Jemile, this simple class was a God-given blessing, making the impossible into reality.
Learning to write for the first time as an adult is difficult, but she’s determined to make this journey a success. Each lesson stands as proof that God has not abandoned her or dismissed her like so many other people.
For her children, family, and community, Jemile has become an example of God’s compassion as he opens the door to a new future.
World Challenge wants to continue empowering this organization to reach more people like Jemile. Consider supporting ministries in Albania and other Balkan countries by making a secure online donation to our missions fund.