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Leading through change 2

Women Leading Through Change

In October 2023, a group of women leaders from some of Tearfund’s partner organisations in Asia and the Pacific visited Australia.

The group were here as part of a women’s leadership initiative Tearfund is implementing with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia Awards Fellowships Program.

Called “Collective power, capacity and agency: strengthening women’s leadership in five countries (Asia-Pacific)”, the Fellowship runs from August 2023 to May 2024 and includes activities in the women’s home countries, as well as the opportunity to gather in person in Australia. Their time here included workshops with one First Nations woman leader, and training in a range of areas including women’s leadership, mental health and inclusion; peace and security; and climate change.

While here, the women shared their thoughts on leading through periods of change, and how their faith in God empowers them for their work.

Heidy Tamboto
Yasera, Indonesia

When leading change, what is needed is a firm belief that God will be with the vision that he has placed in our heart. If I start to underestimate the vision, thinking that it has no power, then I will be unlikely to lead change. Leading change, especially leading change amidst crisis, is a difficult thing but our God is a great and awesome God. He will lead us as we lead others.

Patricia Samuel
Ola Fou, Solomon Islands

Change for me is like a plant that grows into a tree. That symbolises change for me, because there’s a lot of nurturing and many factors that contribute to a plant becoming a tree. For me, change doesn’t happen that quickly, but from a very humble start, a plant can become a big tree that can provide additional things like shade, or fruit, that we can benefit from.

Nayan Shrestha
Welfare Association for Children Tikapur, Nepal

Empowerment is not something that immediately happens. It takes a long time. We want to empower women so they can lead their own change. Children and women are willing to change their lives. They want our support – we work with them, for them.

Janaki Khatri
Welfare Association for Children Tikapur, Nepal

One of our Self-Help Group members is a lady whose family had no income, and she was a victim of domestic violence. After we provided income generation support and training to her, she has been able to have a good income for her family. Her husband has also come to the meeting. The woman is now supporting other women who are victims of domestic violence. When I see change like this happening, I feel very good. When women are empowered, financially independent, and are leading the society.

Nalome Rongong
International Nepal Fellowship

I didn’t previously regard myself as a leader, but God has said that – given us each responsibility – so who am I to say that I’m not a leader? I think this is something eye-opening: each of us in our area, in our context, we are a leader. And now it is with confidence and with assurance that we take this responsibility.

Anna John
Emmanuel Hospital Association, India

As a leader, first, you need to look into yourself. Are you sorted? Have you self-regulated? And it’s a constant check: are you okay? Somewhere, are you not balanced? And is that reflecting in your work? Are you in a constant fight within your mind as to what you’re doing and what you should do? Do you value yourself? Is your centre in Christ?

Mana Pandey
Partnership for New Life, Nepal

There are a lot of women in our community who are feeling loneliness, anxiety, they are thinking there is no hope in their life. God has sent me to their community to change their tears to happiness. They are in depression, and I am trying to encourage them, the way Jesus unconditionally loves me – that’s the way I like to love them.

Manju Thapa
International Nepal Fellowship, Nepal

Leading through change is challenging. Change itself is a challenge and lots of work – making people understand why change is needed, encouraging them, and encouraging yourself. If I myself am not encouraged or sure about change, then change cannot happen … change doesn’t happen by itself. Whenever there is a need for change, there is lots of thinking and discussing with people at different levels. Those changes are meant to be for good. It motivates me to move forward.

Symbols of change

We invited the women to share about an object that symbolises their experience of change. Here are five of those reflections.

Leading through change Reshma John

Reshma John

Emmanuel Hospital Association, India

The reason I chose a mirror was because of its property to reflect. Self-awareness and reflection have helped me a lot in identifying areas that need improvement in my life. Reflecting on new concepts and existing beliefs is also something that my students do as part of their training. So I consider reflection as a tool that promotes change in myself and in my students, in the way they view and respond to disability.

Leading through change Santy Tarigan

Santy Tarigan

Yasera, Indonesia

For me, a seed represents change that grows. Like the small seed that in time will grow to become a strong big tree that can bear fruit. Change in our life will also happen if we nourish it well. Change can grow and develop us as long as it has enough attention, process and time.

Leading through change TFPSA 1

Tearfund partner

South-east Asia*

Every time I need a charger, because I am feeling locked down, I take rest and read the Bible, sing praising songs. And fasting and praying. Oh, that is like a charger! After that, I am encouraged again!

Leading through change TFPSA 2

Tearfund partner

South-east Asia*

Change depends on where we are focused, like a target. Noah focused on the word of God, so he and his family were saved. Abraham focused on the promise of God; he obeyed and he was blessed. Our focus changes us. It changes our behaviour, our thoughts, our practices. Individual change leads to family or group change, which leads to community and societal change.

Leading through change Sita Thapa

Sita Thapa

Partnership for New Life, Nepal

I drew a picture to illustrate how I see myself as part of community change. The sun is a symbol of light. In this picture you can see people from the community – you can see their faces: sadness, lots of problems. I am also there. It means, work together. I want to push them forward towards the light, and work together for transforming their life from darkness to light. I want to inspire them towards a hopeful life, with dignity, and see them have quality of life.

We celebrate the partners that these women serve with, and encourage you to keep them in your prayers.

Yasera works in Papua, strengthening family relationships by promoting conflict resolution and communication skills in the household, improved health through better sanitation and nutrition practices, and enhanced agricultural livelihoods.

Ola Fou Solomons engages young people to become agents of change in their own communities and organisations, equipping them to be future leaders.

The Welfare Association for Children Tikapur, in Nepal, works to empower women through Self-Help Groups, helping some of the most marginalised members of a community to come together, support each other to learn more about their rights and health, save money and begin small businesses.

Partnership for New Life, Nepal empowers marginalised people through Self-Help Groups and support for livelihoods.

International Nepal Fellowship supports people with disabilities to access health care, and facilitates Self-Help Groups to strengthen communities.

Emmanuel Hospital Association, India reaches marginalised communities through health care and development programs. It supports rural communities in sustainable farming, urban communities in health and economic well-being, and runs parenting and youth life skills programs.

* Tearfund partners with an organisation in south-east Asia which supports young people through life skills and vocational training, empowers women through social and economic development within Self-Help Groups, and provides training in Psychological First Aid for youth and women. To protect our partner and its work, we have not named the organisation or the staff.

Images by Kim Landy.

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Australia Awards Fellowships

Tearfund Australia is thankful for the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia Awards Fellowships Program.

Related projects have received support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).