By Eveline Chikwanah
Aug. 10, 2022 | CHITUNGWIZA, Zimbabwe (UM News)
A group of people of different ages huddles together in the front yard, some holding hymnbooks and Bibles that appear to be new.
They are directed to the page containing the Apostles’ Creed and read together with the Rev. Susan Manyange of Seke East United Methodist Church, who is leading the worship service.
It is 7 a.m. on Sunday morning and this is First Street Group. The 1-year-old church gathering has transformed a community where women often work as commercial sex workers, and alcoholism and substance abuse are rampant.
“This church group started as a result of our community outreach program,” said Manyange. “Our church and society committee had identified a needy resident … who suffers from cerebral palsy, and brought groceries and other goods to assist her.” ...
Irene Kwangwara offered her home to be used for worship services. Some of the women have since joined the main church and attend service after the First Street Group gathers.
“I wish to find better ways of earning a living. I am asthmatic, and roaming the street at night looking for clients is not good for my health,” said Cecilia Jasi, 38.
Exposure to the cold has resulted in her consistently suffering from asthma attacks, and the single mother of five is hoping to find a better line of work.
“After attending the church services held in our street, I am willing to transform my life and need capital to start a project such as selling clothes or find work as a shop assistant,” Jasi said.
Fazila Fero, 28, is also ready to leave commercial sex work after two years and find other means to look after herself and her two children. She said the work is risky and the money she makes is menial, averaging $40 U.S. per month.
“I used to drink a lot (of alcohol) but now I have renewed faith in the Lord and do not drink as much,” Fero said.
“The pastor loves us. She kept coming back and encouraging us to attend church services even when we couldn’t get up due to hangover,” she said.