Something was missing, and Alia knew it.
The SIM worker had been doing outreach and discipleship with Muslim women, and while they were growing spiritually,
“they didn’t have a way to put food on the table for their families,” Alia says.
“Just giving them food was not sustainable. I wanted them to have their dignity, and to have wholeness of life and faith.”
She whispered what she calls “a quiet prayer” in her heart. Years later, in 2014, God’s answer emerged.
Katy, an American, was attending a women’s retreat Alia organized for cross-cultural workers reaching out to Muslims when color grabbed her eye. Wallets—handmade by Filipino women out of old plastic wrappers—were on display, being sold at the conference.
“God broke my heart for the spiritual and economic poverty. My heart started stirring—was there a way I could help?” Katy says.
A little digging revealed that a government initiative allowed the women to learn the skills necessary for making the wallets. But they didn’t have a way to sell them, let alone to make a profit. Some wallets were even being sold for the equivalent of $2 USD—well below their value.
The women had the skills, but no market for earning a living.
Sharing a deep desire to help, Alia and Katy came together and formed today’s Chora ministry.
Chora expands on the women’s skills to create beautiful products and enables them to earn a living. In buying the women’s products at a fair-trade price, it allows them to earn more for their families. Chora also collaborates with local cross-cultural workers and their communities to:
- Strengthen livelihood programs
- Identify supply chains for packaging materials used to weave the products
- Create apprenticeship plans
- Build a market for the wallets in the United States
Chora currently operates in three communities—two urban poor communities and a rural community in southern Philippines. About 30 women are involved as weavers, and the goal is to expand and reach many more women and communities.
“I can’t believe you want to help us,” says one artist through thankful tears.
Her gratitude is directed to YOU, and to so many Chora workers who labor behind the scenes to open new venues for sales, including marketing volunteers, corporate partners, and Amazon business owners.
“Because we are consistently helping them sell their products, we are beginning to gain the women’s trust and respect, as well as building stronger relationships with them,” Alia says.
Restoring Hope and Dignity
It isn’t just that learning skills and earning an income allows the women to stand on their own two feet, it allows them to do so proudly—especially in an ethnic community that doesn’t place high value on women and views them as “second class,” Alia says.
“So much of this is about respecting women,” says Katy.
“Having men respect them, but also helping the women respect themselves.”
“For the women, it shows them they have value,” Alia says. “That someone wants to buy and values what they are making.”
As the women get involved, they are introduced to Jesus and the gospel.
“Jesus did not force himself on people; He gave them an opportunity to know Him,” Katy says. “It’s about giving the women an opportunity to meet God and learn about the Bible.”
“This work isn’t quick,” she continues. “The beauty of it is what God is doing in the process—just getting these women together and giving them this opportunity is amazing.”
THANK YOU for partnering with SIM so women may become empowered to provide for themselves and for their families with dignity.
Please join us in prayer:
- PRAY for the 30 women weavers, that God will bless the work of their hands and bring them to eternal life in Jesus.
- PRAY for SIM workers Alia and Katy, as they work to expand the Chora ministry, share the gospel, and empower many more women.
- PRAY for girls and women who haven’t yet met Jesus or experienced what it’s like to earn a living with dignity.
Your generosity today empowers women to earn a living in a way that makes them stand tall with their heads held high.
Please prayerfully consider giving a gift to further impact the kingdom of God.