When Enisa*, a participant in one of our projects, lost her husband, she was left with young children including a little girl who has a tumour and a son with impaired sight. Strangely, when a woman in this corner of the Balkans loses a husband to death, divorce or desertion, they become a target for slander or blame.

The family of her lost husband 'sanctioned' Enisa, and this harassment brought her to seek medical help for the stress in her life. 

Enisa has been attending the life skills classes which are part of a vocational training project. Seminars on personal value and boundaries have been transformational for her and she is doing much better because ofthe support that staff and volunteers have been able to give her. 

She has taken the first step but will need ongoing emotional support along this journey. Unfortunately, her case is not at all unusual here. 

Our Women's Empowerment Project (WEP), along with practical skills, offers women a chance to become aware of and consider their own personal value. One lady told us recently, "I have found myself with all of you."

The programme offers a chance to be seen, to have space for themselves, to be something more than a collection point for other people's expectations and obligations. People can find emotional healing in moving on from loss and trauma. 

WEP builds capacity and hope, offering a bridge over troubled waters. Donations given from the UK have played a critical role in making this bridge possible through funding local staff and trainer salaries. 

Recently we have seen this project spilling over across generations. Connecting with mothers and families brings us into the sphere of their sons and daughters; in this context, surveying the local schools, we find ourselves in a terrain of crisis. Fathers are lost to growing divorce rates and a population haemorrhaging into the diaspora. 

Schools, which are perhaps the healthiest institution, describe 50% of families as dysfunctional. Young people have issues managing emotions and communication with self-control. Gambling, high unemployment, poverty and a crippling skills gap are in the background. 

Perhaps at the hear of this crisis is personal value and values. There is a loss of a sense of responsibility as youth see that diligence and honesty do not appear to pay. Many want "chill, power and cash" without work and bad guys seem to prosper.

Others find themselves trapped in isolation, in a shaming culture, with little access to sports, dance or creative expression. On top of this, COVID-19 has left a gaping wound in the psychology of adolescent kids. Into this terrain, we are working towards a youth dimension to the WEP intervention.

There are almost no known believers here. Serving in this closed community means we are an authentic and welcome healing presence, which provokes questions that otherwise might not arise, as we share our stories. 

Questions like, 'How do you believers deal with evil (spirits)?" or "How can religious rules make you a good person?" and "How can Jesus be both God and man?"

We can agree that Jesus is the Word of God. But we clarify, to look at Him, you are looking at the exegesis of God, the human face of God. He is the very book of God. 

We know that the promise of blessing, the promise of life, will come to all the families of the earth. It is perhaps unbeknown to them at this point. The Book of Life contains the names of people from families from this terrain and from these streets.

*Name changed 

Please pray for this project as OM teams in the Balkans minister to women like Enisa and their families. If you would like to support OM ministries like this one, visit the link below. 

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