“Naomi* has spent the last 28 years working in West Africa in one of the world's poorest countries. I see in Naomi a woman whose resilience and strength comes from her trust in and love for Jesus. Her motivation comes from a desire to share the Good News and compassion of Jesus in ways that will bring hope and dignity to the people she ministers amongst. She is a living testimony of God's heart for all."
That is the verdict of Ross Britton, Serving In Mission's project coordinator in Australia, about a woman who is running the health side of our Sowing Seeds of Change in the Sahel project.
The project seeks to faciliate the transformation of physical, social and spiritual life through agriculture and community health.
Although the project is called 'Sowing Seeds in the Sahel', the project takes a very holistic approach to community development by also prioritising a health training programme with an emphasis on nutrition, prevention of dieases and the training of traditional birth attendants.
Naomi is actively involved with the training of birth attendants to reduce the risk of disease and complications during pregnancy and delivery.
She said: "One of the problems we encounter is that although pregnant women come to clinics for check-ups and are given iron tablets, many don't actually take them. This might be influenced by a fear that the baby grow too big and make birth more painful.
"In order to address this problem, we have been holding neighbourhood meetings with women and their birth attendants.
"I bring a jam jar filled with yellow fluid and red and white buttons. We use these meetings to teach a simple anatomy lesson outlining the role of iron in the blood and the importance of the tablets. The jar with the buttons shows the women what their blood is like.
"Anatomy can be dull at the best of times, and for these village women who have never been to school, it needs to be as tangible as possible.
"We want to see birth attendants doing their very best for the women. We also want women to take responsibility for their own health, cooperate with the birth attendants and attend the clinics.
"It's a slow process but we have made incredible progress considering that a few years ago hardly any women were willing to allow the birth attendants to examine them.
"Now the challenge is to get the women to see that it's the birth attendant's role to examine them, not ours (the trainers) and for the birth attendants and the women to stop waiting for us to visit to get their ante-natal checks. We're not there yet but it's finally starting to happen!"
The field is ripe for harvest but the workers are few! SIM is seeking administrators and doctors for a Hospital and Fistula Centre and people to help with the agricultural work and health work of Sowing Seeds.
No matter what your gifts and skills are, there are opportunities for you to serve! Start a conversation today with a SIM Mission Mobiliser by going to sim.co.uk/enquire.
That meetings with birth attendants and expectant mothers will encourage women to take more responsibility and practise the things they have learned.
Praise God for Naomi and her desire to demonstrate the love of Christ with the people she ministers among.
*Name changed to protect identity