A story of radical renewal for the New Year

No more fitting of a name could have been given to the New Life Center in Kitgum, Northern Uganda. At this place, some of the world's most broken, abused women find the space and tools they need to be remade emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically. I've seen it for myself, and it is amazing.

The New Life Center serves female victims of the war in Northern Uganda as well as women found to exhibit profound depression, hopelessness, signs of abuse or other concerns. Women share huts at the Center, and times of recreation encourage friendships to grow.

Jennifer lived a very lonely life before spending a few months at the New Life Center. As a child, her stepmother had thrown her into a fire, and the visible and invisible scars kept her isolated from others well into adulthood. Even her relatives refused to support her, and when she bore a son, she avoided public spaces and raised him alone.

At the New Life Center, Jennifer learned practical life skills in business, baking (shown above) and growing crops.

She began to make friends with other residents at this haven, and professional, biblical counseling helped her see the hope and purpose she has in Christ.

 “Jennifer is no longer alone,” our staff reported from Uganda.

Having graduated from the Center, today, she lives with friends and exercises the lessons she learned. This once isolated, lonely young woman not only has friends now; she is well-respected as an elected leader among her peers.

Upon returning home to her village, Jennifer joined a local Village Savings and Loan Association: a self-selected group of people who agree to pool their money and make loans or cash gifts to each other as needed. She took out a loan for 20,000 shillings (about $8.13) to start a business selling bread and fish.

Jennifer's business was successful, so she repaid the loan, with interest, and stored the profits in her house — profits which, unfortunately, were stolen in a robbery shortly thereafter. Fellow members of the Association urged her to forgive the thief, and they lent her another 10,000 shillings to get things going again.

Her goal is to have her son go to school “until there are no higher levels of education.” Jennifer (above) says she is grateful to God for what he has done, giving her new skills and a new life through the New Life Center.

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