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We can often overlook the gravity of the situation that Jesus’ mother Mary faced when she suddenly became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. It was scandalous! She was a teenager, engaged to Joseph, facing gossip and shame from her community. One of her relatives, Elizabeth, believed Mary and took her in. Inspired by Elizabeth, Amy Brewer took this same idea of taking in and supporting women when they need it the most and started an entire organization to make a difference. Amy is the founder of Elizabeth’s Voice, a nonprofit on mission to provide dignified jobs to women and empower them to give back to their communities in Uganda and Lebanon. Join me as I hear from Amy about how supporting women changes the world.
Amy went to college with a plan to become a nurse. She specifically wanted to become a nurse who helped women in developing nations. Her plan unfolded from wanting to be a doctor, and then a nurse. In the end, she became a midwife!
She worked in a midwife clinic in South Sudan in a place with little to no electricity and limited supplies. It was very difficult, but she knew it was meant to do that for a long time.
In 2013, Amy’s team was scheduled to fly home for the Christmas holiday. At the same time, fighting broke out again in South Sudan. Amy always thought she’d return to Sudan, but God had other plans for her.
In 2016, Amy had an opportunity to help a friend re-open a clinic in Mozambique that had been closed due to lack of funds. Both experiences in the Sudan and Mozambique clinics taught Amy that the only difference between her and the women she met in the clinics was opportunity.
When her work with the clinics was complete, she couldn’t stop thinking about the women she’d served. She knew more than anything that what they needed were jobs, so Amy started two artisan groups for women in Uganda and one in Lebanon for Iraqi and Syrian refugees.
Amy stayed at a hotel where a Ugandan woman was selling products to tourists. She knew the moment she saw the woman that she was supposed to work with her. This woman also told Amy that several months before they met, she saw Amy’s face in her dream.
This Ugandan woman was trying to employ single moms and widows in her community, even though she herself was also living in poverty while a single mom and widow.
Amy’s new Ugandan friend was only selling a few items a day. She and Amy decided to become business partners in 2016 and now have 28 full-time employees.
In Lebanon, they partner with a missionary who has a Women’s Center for Iraqi and Syrian refugees to receive food packages and bible studies. They also work to find the women jobs they can to supplement their family’s income or help single mother’s make ends meet.
In the Bible, when Mary finds out she’s pregnant with Jesus, Elizabeth takes her in and cares for her and encourages her (Luke 1:56). Elizabeth’s Voice is built on the idea of women helping women and being there when women need the most support.
The “She Was Hired” story is the story of a young woman from a small village in Uganda. Even though Amy and Elizabeth’s Choice received this woman’s permission to share her story, they chose to keep her identity anonymous to reiterate that her story does not define her.
Amy’s business partner in Uganda is Eveline, and she’s known in the community as a warm, caring women. She is called the Ugandan words meaning “Born Again.” One day while Evelin she was walking down the road, she came across a very young woman who was crying on the side of the road.
The woman told Eveline that she was an orphan who didn’t have the opportunity to finish school and no way to make money. She was also trying to take care of her brother. Often in Uganda, women have to resort to prostitution as the only option to make ends meet.
After Eveline heard her story, she made sure this didn’t happen and brought this young woman into the family of Elizabeth’s Voice. She was hired that day and is still the first person to show up to work every day. Eveline taught her to sew and make paper beads but sewing is her favorite job. Now she can make a living in a safe environment doing a job she enjoys.
The main goal of Elizabeth’s Voice is sustainable work for the women who are a part of the organization. They also started a hospital visiting program where the ladies sit with people and pray and also bring basic supplies to the hospital like soaps, tea, laundry detergent, toothpaste, bibles, etc.
Some of the women from a smaller village recently found a group of 12 vulnerable children who needed their school fees paid. They raised money to pay for the fees and volunteered to take care of the kids on school breaks and make sure their basic needs are met.
The vision of the women in Elizabeth’s Voice in both Lebanon and Uganda is to recognize the biggest needs in their communities and work to fill those first.
Donations to Elizabeth’s Choice go to things like the hospital visits and school fees. They also sell products and those sales go toward making future product orders and sustaining the business side of things.
Recently they started a fair-trade subscription box which will be more sustainable in providing funds. They’d also like to expand their product line to support more and more local artisans in their respective communities, continuing to provide work and creating a bridge between the consumer and artisans.
You can find Elizabeth’s Voice here. To find out more about their Hope Mail subscription box, go to ElizabethsVoice.org/hopemail It’s $14.99 a month and offers an affordable option for those who want to support artisan made products that support women.
You can also follow Elizabeth’s Voice on Facebook and Instagram (@elizabethsvoice)
Find out Amy’s guilty pleasure, who she’d most like to sit next to on a 10-hour flight and why, what she’s reading, and of course, what it means to Amy to run a business with purpose (you’re going to love her answer)!
“I just saw a greater and bigger need. My mindset went from “Oh, I can go over there and be their nurse” to “Oh, I can go over there and hire them and give them a job and their children can become nurses or doctors or lawyers, or whatever they chose to be.”
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