Over the years, Amani ya Juu has been blessed to work with African women to build peace and empower lives. However, sometimes even we are surprised at how far God has used Amani to impact the lives of women around the world. During the month of November, Amani Chattanooga has been honored to host some very special volunteers who have not only been touched by Amani’s message of peace but have been a huge blessing to the Amani Chattanooga staff.
Joy is an African woman who has only recently moved to America with her two children to begin a new life. She is leaving behind a difficult past and is beginning the complicated and challenging process of filing for permanent residency. God has already opened many doors for Joy and her children and has provided the support of a local NGO called Global Humanitarian Outreach (GHO) who is assisting her in the immigration process. She believes that this opportunity to start life in America has been a gift from God, and she knows that freedom from her past will help herself and her children to flourish in this strange but hopeful new environment.
Until her residency permits are secured, Joy is unable to legally work for a wage. However, because of her determination to grow and adjust to her new life in America, she began searching for volunteer opportunities. Her connections with GHO led her to Amani, where she and her children have been assisting the warehouse staff. True to her name, Joy brings with her a rich enthusiasm for life and a hope that cannot be dimmed despite her difficult past.
We asked her a few questions about her experience with Amani:
How did you become involved with Amani? "I became involved with Amani through Jordan at GHO. She told me about Amani, and I was so impressed to hear what they are doing to help women in Africa. It is good to know that they support women by training them to make materials and then bring it to the States and sell it. It is good for everyone. So that’s how I got engaged with Amani."
What sort of work do you do for Amani? "Ahhh, it’s big, it’s a lot of work. I’m happy with what I am doing with Amani. Organizing materials. Packing the materials according to the requirements for the box party boxes, and helping with cleaning. My two children are also very supportive of the work, doing some calculations and packing and cleaning. They are just so helpful."
What kind of impact has Amani made on your life? "Amani made me feel like a new person. The first time I went to Amani I felt happiness; more than happiness. I can’t even express how I was feeling, but I was feeling so happy to do some work with Amani, knowing that I am helping other women in Africa."
Amani’s purpose is to be a social-economic enterprise committed to peace and reconciliation for African women. What does that goal mean to you? "It means a lot. I feel like I am a part of what they are trying to accomplish for women. I am experiencing the mission of Amani, but not from Africa. It’s just a different perspective."
What does God’s peace mean to you personally? "Oh my, that’s huge. It’s a very important thing in my life. For a long time, I had no peace in my life. But now I am feeling peace. And feeling peace brings happiness and joy. So God’s peace for me is everything. When I am peaceful, I can help a lot of people, I can do a lot of things, and achieve a lot of things."
How do you think this experience working with Amani has impacted your children and their adjustment to life in America? "My children have been impacted by Amani because when we are at Amani, they get to do what they like to do: helping and volunteering. Amani helped them to be more calm and peaceful. We are back to peaceful again! Because they are happy to help and support others. They are good workers."
What else would you like to say about Amani and what it means to you? "To have an organization like Amani is such a blessing because they support and help African women who without Amani could not sell those items where they are. No one would pay them the money that they deserve to be paid. So Amani does so much to help and support African women by buying the materials and selling it here. Often, people value the materials they produce more than they value the Africans who produce them. But Amani does the opposite of that. Also, Amani helps a lot with the spiritual life of other women who might not be Christians. Whenever I am at Amani, we pray, we praise, we discuss our needs, and I was so touched to see that happening. That itself is such a huge thing. We love Amani, and we want to support it in any way that we can. I would like to encourage other people to volunteer with Amani so that more women in Africa can get the help and support that they need."
(Names and details have been changed or omitted for safety)