Healing and Hope at Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women
At Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women, the COVID-19 pandemic has been personally and professionally challenging for our residents and for me. Creating a home for women who have been tortured or trafficked is a ministry of presence. On lock down, I am learning to do that in different ways. They may be particularly vulnerable since they share so much, including communal cooking and spaces. It is difficult. I question myself all the time. Every day presents another moral dilemma. Do I go in and help or not? If I stay away, we may be able to return to normal more quickly than if I go in and get sick or carry it to the residents.
Sister Maggie often said that we learn more from the women at Sarah’s than they learn from us. I understand. They are survivors. They know the difference between a need and a want. They know how to use available resources. They trust that God will take care of them. (They also trust in a hot garlic and ginger drink that they believe will cure just about any respiratory illness. We go through a lot of ginger and garlic!)
Our residents are stepping up in amazing ways. Their issues don’t stop because of a pandemic. Sarah’s is a big household. The women live in close proximity sharing a kitchen and bathrooms
making social distancing and wearing masks a challenge. One of our women is in the midst of arranging a work permit. Immigration still expects her to meet all of her deadlines. Another resident was awaiting the arrival of her children. Without international air traffic, what becomes of them? There are no apartment showings so another woman who was planning to move cannot. And there is the resident whose English requires an interpreter. Typically, I do that, but now? She and her pro-bono attorney are in a bind particularly since there are no deadline extensions. And then there are the supply chain challenges as once daily deliveries come every three even four days. Some residents work in healthcare or in grocery stores but without access to personal protective equipment. Gratefully, an anonymous and committed Consociate volunteer delivered enough homemade and washable masks for all of our residents.
This is a glass half full/half empty time. I miss the one-on-one opportunities to show compassion and respect for these women I love. One resident calls me every day. Sarah’s staff are the only people left for her in this part of the world. Yet this situation is forcing her and others to step into their potential. It is causing me to think about things in new ways. While I feel a spiritual and physical toll I also understand that I, we, need to be patient and gentle with ourselves.
By Cheryl Behrent, Director, with Ann L. Thompson
Side bar: A special thanks to Consociates Ginger and Peg and others for their volunteer services during this time. And to the women of Sarah’s who are stepping up to make things work. If you can help Sarah’s with a much appreciated donation, please send a check to the Ministries Foundation with “Sarah’s” in the information line, make visit www.sarahsoasis.org to make an online donation or check out our Wishlist. Shipped items are greatly appreciated.