Perla is a Freedom Challenge project in Madagascar that is empowering women through skills training.
Perla, the Malagasy word for ‘pearl’, is an OM project in Ambovombe, Madagascar. When OM worker Hermina moved there, she saw that skills training would be beneficial in the town where most people dropped out of school before graduation and were not trained in any way. With a desire to see women empowered, Hermina began the Perla Project in 2014.
“The women are worth more than jewels to God,” explained Hanitra, who is the OM Field Leader in Madagascar, regarding the choice of name for the project.
Perla training runs from May to October, four days a week. Twelve ladies learn sewing three days a week and cooking once a week. These new believers also attend a Bible study and learn to share the gospel with others.
The women who attend have changed, and in turn, bring change to their families. Husbands and relatives have thanked Hermina for helping bring transformation to their families. Personally, Hermina has also grown and developed alongside the women she teaches. “I’ve learned about loving God and loving people: If you don’t really love them then you cannot make much of a difference,” she mused.
At 17, Angeline had to drop out of school to get married. Despite her protests that she wanted to continue her education, Angeline’s parents accepted the proposal of a 42-year-old man on her behalf. “When I got married it was not my choice, but because of difficulties in my family,” said Angeline. After more than a decade, Angeline’s husband stated his desire to take on another wife and they officially divorced.
Unable to get a steady job due to a lack of education, Angeline sold vegetables on the side of the road to provide for her five children. Her elderly parents also live with her. “I would like to care for my children and to pay for their studies.”
Hearing about Perla from a friend, Angeline recognized the training was an opportunity to gain skills to provide for her family. “I thank God for sending OM here to help us, to create a new trade for us like sewing,” Angeline said. People began approaching Angeline to sew their clothing before her graduation. The income has already helped the family to move into a new house.
Angeline gained more than just sewing and cooking skills, however; she developed a personal relationship with Christ. “Something I learned here is the love of God. I know that God loves me. The way He provided this training is an example. I know how to worship God now. I know how to pray.”