Ghana Education Trip 2015 – Julie’s Story

Hot flashes, fuzzy memory, mood changes, lack of energy – these are symptoms many people readilyassociate with menopause and see as a normal part of life. But what if you experienced these things and no one had ever explained to you what is happening or why? What if you lived in a culture where those symptoms could result in you being banished to a “witch” camp?

As part of the Education team that traveled to Ghana in July 2015 I had the opportunity to teach from the CHE curriculum called Women’s Cycle of Life (WCL). These lessons are designed to educate and empower women in areas of health, understanding of their bodies, emotional and spiritual wellness, hygiene and other topics that will develop and enhance their communities. While many of us have easy access to information about women’s health and live in a culture that speaks openly about it, there are millions of women around the world whose experience is much different. Limited education, cultural background, and a tradition of silence on private issues have led to fear and misinformation. Our goal as we teach WCL is to equip women so they can educate other women in their community to work together toward transformation.

One of the lessons I taught in several communities was about how to recognize and manage the changes that come in menopause. As the lesson unfolded it became clear that a number of women in the group had personal experience with the symptoms but did not understand that they are part of a normal phase of a woman’s life. They began nodding in agreement and I began to see relief, understanding and hope reflected in their faces. As I was ending the lesson the questions started to emerge. The translator relayed symptoms and issues from woman after woman as they sought understanding of how this information applied to their individual situations. We talked about how they, as a group of women, can support and encourage each other and how their newfound knowledge could be shared with others. I watched as information that I often take for granted had a dramatic impact on a community of women. This is the power and purpose of CHE.

One final note to this story – the next day one of the women came to me, hugged me and said “ I thought what was happening to me was because someone had put a curse on me. Now I understand that what I feel is normal for women. I’m not afraid anymore”.

Despite how different our lives may look, the hearts of women around the world are very much the same. May God use the knowledge and excitement of these women to teach others and transform hearts and communities.