Bringing change and freedom to the lives of vulnerable women can be a long and sometimes complicated process, as Ava's story shows. A project team in the Middle East share how they are bringing hope to this young disabled mom who is living in a very difficult situation

Life has never been easy for Ava*. She and three of her sisters were born with a genetic condition affecting their legs. Today, Ava drags her legs along as she moves, crawling about the house and yard to do the laundry and other housework for her family. Her wheelchair is old and because of all the steps around the house, she uses it only when she is granted a rest from chores or receives a rare visit from one of her sisters.

End of a childhood

Ava’s childhood ended abruptly when she was married to a man 30 years her senior to become his second wife. Her mother thought she was doing the best thing for Ava; how else could she feed her six children after her husband died? At least if Ava was married she would have food and shelter.

So before Ava turned 12 she was married off to this much older man. Soon she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy; this baby was raised by Ava’s husband and his first wife who had been unable to conceive children.

Now there are three boys roaming around the tiny home located next to the mud-built stables that house a few cattle. One of the boys is walking cross-legged, showing the signs of his mother's condition.

Building trust

A Freedom Challenge project worker has started to befriend Ava, but it will be a long journey to providing her with all the help she truly needs.

The project staff are building trust with Ava and her family, including the husband and first wife; this is essential if they are ever going to be able to truly help Ava. With little interventions, such as providing shin protectors and bringing a therapist along for assessing Ava and her youngest son, they have started on this long journey of bringing freedom to this household.

The project staff hope that one day Ava and her whole family can live in true peace and support of each other.

*Name changed to protect identity

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