By Sandra Heemskerk, Marketing Coordinator
HAVE you ever met someone that you immediately want the world to know? I actually have felt that multiple times in the past 4 years since working at Partners International. This past summer I travelled with a team to South America and in Bolivia I met someone else to add to that list.
Her name is Nelly. She is from the Quechua people group in Bolivia. She is a pastor and a teacher of many things. For 33 years she has been travelling to remote Quechua villages in the altiplanos of Bolivia often times riding in the back of a truck in -4 weather for hours at a time. She visits for two weeks at a time over a three year period rotating through multiple villages in one year. Over the course of those three years, she teaches villagers how to read in their native language and she teaches the Bible. She is also trained in and trains villagers in the areas of agriculture, animal husbandry and health promotion including sanitation. When funds are available she will also bring a mobile clinic specializing in dental care. She also helps them in providing materials for their crafts that they sell for income. She does this without asking anything from the villagers except a commitment to the program.
The result of her work is community transformation and often times the beginning of a church. She has been so successful that she receives petitions from other villages across Bolivia asking for her to come and start the program there.
Nelly works with the Quechua Literacy Project, a local partner of Partners International in Bolivia. On our trip we spent 3 days after driving for hours on very rough terrain and were able to visit 5 villages; some that finished the program years before; some who had just finished and received a certificate of completion and a Bible in their local language; and some who were only a few months into the program. We saw people write their name for the first time and read their first words. We even participated in planting the cornerstone of a brand new church. In every community we visited they were so thankful for the Quechua Literacy Project and for Nelly who had sacrificed so much to demonstrate the love of Christ to them.
The work she does is not easy. The geography and weather alone creates barriers not to mention cultural issues, lack of resources and often feeling alone. She needs all of our prayers.
Nelly depends on God for everything. She is faithful and humble and one of the best women I have ever had the privilege of meeting – a true inspiration that I just couldn’t keep to myself. As we stood together, our group of 11 from Canada and the team from Bolivia, in prayer and support I was reminded of the true beauty and power of partnership with God being at the centre.