The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


With healing hands

Malagasy women lay hands on minds, bodies, souls

In Madagascar, one of the world's poorest countries, malnutrition is common. So are underfunded education programs, poor sanitation, and malaria, diarrhea and sexually transmitted diseases. The average adult can expect to live 54 years.

Women and children are especially affected. Helene Ralivao, director of the Malagasy Lutheran Church women's department, said many single mothers resort to prostitution to earn a living.

Against these overwhelming odds, the Lutheran church and its laywomen provide the Malagasy people with hope and healing.

Lutherans are a strong presence in this country of 14 million, where 1.5 million belong to the Malagasy church.

Church ministries pay special attention to women's needs. Many women aren't highly educated, Ralivao said, adding,"They don't have self-confidence and feel inferior to their male counterparts. It's been implanted in their minds that they must remain behind." It's a perception laywomen are helping to change with a new women's center in Ambohibao, Madagascar.

Built with Lutheran World Federation funds, the center teaches unemployed or homeless women cooking, sewing, hygiene, health care and embroidery. It offers leadership training, spiritual retreats and English instruction. Youth gather there to learn about healthy marriages and families, nonviolence and AIDS-prevention.

To help

To learn more about South-South programs or to help support the Malagasy Lutheran Church's women's center, contact David Lerseth, director for global mission support, (800) 638-3522, Ext. 2641.




Posted at 11:33 pm (U.S. Eastern) 1/2/2008

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February issue


Embracing diversity