I arrived in Nepal at the age of 26 with my husband and our new born baby boy. We joined the International church but, unlike the missionaries we met there, as an Army wife I had received no preparation for living in a third world country. It was a shock and I wrestled with God about why he permitted the poverty I saw everywhere around me. I was overwhelmed.
The first person to help me through all this was our Nepali cook. She lived with us and was always on hand to explain what baffled and amused me about life in Nepal. Regrettably her husband, who was 15 years older than her, and for whom she was his second wife through an arranged marriage, beat her. We protected her at our house and did not let him see her, thankfully years later she successfully divorced him. This was my first close insight into the powerlessness that Nepali women deal with. It also gave me an awareness of the great social problems that the Nepali people face – her husband was an alcoholic and had discarded his first wife, with whom he had two children, to start life with a younger woman, our cook. There was no obligation on him to support his first wife.
During our posting to Nepal, God changed the direction of my life. An eighty year old woman, Eileen, who is British and had been living in Nepal for 50 years at that time, approached me to support about ten abandoned women who relied upon her for their rent and medical bills. Most of the women were in situations similar to our cook and her husband’s first wife. Put simply, Eileen was concerned about what would happen to these women when she died and her assistance would end. I took on supporting these women, found sponsors for them, and the charity, ‘Women Without Roofs’ was born. Though Eileen, like me, was British, being so much older and having lived in Nepal for most of her life I valued her insight and prophetic wisdom. She truly is a woman of God and she helped me see how God was working in Nepal to overcome the darkness and deprivation.
Once we had returned to the UK, Eileen put me in touch with her capable assistant, Bina, a strong Christian woman, and between the two of us we grew the charity to benefit more Nepali women. Bina is caring, compassionate, extremely well organised and a good communicator. Despite growing up in contrasting cultures and having such different experiences when we came to faith (her family ostracised her for a time), we share a vision for how God wants to release women in Nepal from bondage to poverty and abuse. She has become a true friend and despite the distance between us, we are still working together to help women in Nepal.
There is more of Anna’s story in her book ‘Destination Transformation‘.
To learn more about WWR you can find them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/WWRNepal/