Encouragement and inspiration always build one up, so it was wonderful to receive both these gifts from Jenny the other day.
I first met Jenny when she was twelve years old. She had learnt to make jewellery at school, and brought me some to ask if I would be able to sell any of her creations for her through our project in the UK. She wanted to be able to go to secondary school, but her father did not believe it was worth educating girls, as she would likely end up a wife and mother, looking after her home as her mother did.
Jenny wanted to have a career, a means of supporting herself, a way out of poverty. I was impressed by her initiative and determination. I agreed to try selling her jewellery, sending packages of it to my mother in the UK for the Project Ecuador stalls.
It sold well, and Jenny faithfully brought me batches of new designs every fortnight the whole six years she attended secondary school. Her beautiful earrings, bracelets and necklaces generated enough income for her to pay for her uniform, shoes, stationary, books and bus fares, and helped her self-confidence to grow.
Now, aged twenty, Jenny has a full time job as a book-keeper, and is studying accountancy at university in the evenings and at weekends.
Jenny asked me if she could come and teach jewellery-making to the girls in the club I run. She wanted to share the skills that had so helped her when she was their age. It was a real encouragement for me to have her help and speak to the girls.
Jenny encouraged the other girls not to give up on their studies. She told them about her faith in Jesus, which has helped her to keep her eyes focused on her goals in life, when other glittering temptations have sought to derail her.
Jenny is a warm, humble, confident, quietly-spoken young woman now. She desires to have a degree, a respectable job and one day a Christian family of her own. May the God she so faithfully serves grant her her heart´s desires.