(Header image) Sisters Daisy and Sarah pray for a better future for the women they serve at the Christian Care Centre (CCC). Credit: Neil Nuia. (Above) Sister Sarah hopes that the women who leave the CCC will be strong and live free of violence. “They must be strong so that when they go out, they must stand for themselves and know who they are,” she says. Credit: Cedella Nongebatu.

The instruction of St Paul to the Ephesians to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ is often a misunderstood passage in Scripture.

The above verse, from a passage in Ephesians 5:21-33, is about mutual submission of husbands and wives to each other. First, Paul addresses wives, encouraging them to be subject to their husbands. Then he addresses husbands, emboldening them to love their wives just like Christ; that is, out of a servant heart.

We see Jesus’ attitude exemplified in John’s gospel where he says that the greatest act of love is to lay down one’s life for your friends (John 15:13). This is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife, just as Jesus laid down his life for his bride, the church.

Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus demonstrate this type of love to those who are vulnerable and poor, including women. In a culture where women were considered second-class citizens, Jesus shows true dignity and respect. He challenges the surrounding culture by including women, and affirming their giftedness in ministry.

A misunderstanding of love and roles in relationships is one cause of gender-based violence (GBV). This has been and remains a problem in many countries around the world. One of those countries is the Solomon Islands, where we partner with the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) to combat violence against women, particularly by intimate partners.

In a country which is officially 96 percent Christian, GBV is a major problem. 64 percent of women and girls aged 15-49 have experienced physical abuse by an intimate partner or member of the family. This is a tragedy.

Sister Sarah holds a child of one of the women who has come to the CCC for refuge. The sisters take care of their children so that the women can learn skills to better their lives. Credit: Cedella Nongebatu

Our Safe, Strong Communities project in the Solomon Islands is raising awareness of GBV, working with communities, including faith leaders, so they have the knowledge and capabilities to create an environment where the dignity of all people is valued and respected.

Part of our work in this project involves supporting the work of the Anglican Sisters of the Melanesian Church, who run the Christian Care Centre, one of only a few women’s refuges in the Solomon Islands. Their work includes supporting women who have been affected by violence, and raising awareness about the issue.

Women felt safe with Jesus, and they need to feel safe in the Solomon Islands so they can thrive and flourish as members of their communities.

We invite you to contribute to our ‘Shining a Light’ Spring Appeal and support the wonderful work of our partner, the Anglican Church of Melanesia, as it supports vulnerable women.

We also urge you to keep praying for the work of the Safe, Strong Communities project.

Sister Sarah has a heart for the women who have been through domestic violence. “I see the women and all the experiences they go through. When I see them, I have a heart for them,” she says. Credit: Neil Nuia.

The sisters at the CCC patiently and gently guide the women they take in, helping them to see that they are worth more than the abuse and the violence they face at home.

Sister Daisy is a senior nun at the CCC. She explains that domestic violence is common in the Solomon Islands and most women think it is just a part of life.

“Domestic violence happens every day; it is in the household. But the women have no idea about it; they think the words that are being said and the sexual harassment they face is a normal routine. People think it is an insignificant matter, but it is not. It will ruin a woman’s life.”

“The women must be strong and know their worth. They must say, ‘Yes; I am a woman, I too have the right to speak, to move around. Why should I have a swollen eye?’ Their beauty should stand out; they should know who they are.”

It is through activities with the sisters, the opportunity to open up and talk about their experiences, and the information the sisters give them during their stay that the women can feel empowered to take action. The sisters teach them their worth in God and help them with financial skills so they can exercise their independence.

Sister Sarah lights a candle for the victims of domestic violence. Credit: Neil Nuia.

But more than anything, as sister Sarah says, the sisters are there to listen and help them heal from the trauma. “We stay awake with them and listen to everything they have to say. They know they can trust us, and there is someone to help them.”

“No matter who comes, we continue the same work. We have a heart to help them get better. They take these learning with them to help them.”

At AOA we appreciate the great work of the CCC, but our fervent desire is to tackle the root causes of GBV so that its important ministry is no longer needed.

Our work with the ‘Safe, Strong Communities’ program in the Solomon Islands is supported by the Australian Government and donations from the Australian public through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

 


To donate to our 2021 Spring Appeal, click on the ‘Please Donate’ button below (choose ’01. 2021 Spring Appeal’ from the ‘Donation’ drop-down menu) or call us on 1800 249 880.

Alternatively, you can send a cheque/money order made payable to Anglican Overseas Aid to:

Anglican Overseas Aid
PO Box 389
Abbotsford, VIC 3067