My phenomenal exemplar

Marjorie Elijah

An entry in the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

As a child growing up, I observed women with different approaches to life and there is one who excelled amongst them all.

I admire her personality and spend much time with her. Ruth (the name I will give her) is an exceptional woman. She chose God to build her life foundation, is selfless in her approach and is capable.

Morning and evening devotions are regularly conducted in the church for the entire village. Ruth starts her day as early as 4am. While the place is quiet and peaceful, Ruth enjoys conversing with God in prayer.

She commits her family, plans and life to God and trusts Him to provide and use her to serve Him according to His will.

Because of her desire to know God, she allocates at least two hours to study the Bible after morning devotion to strengthens and focus on her daily tasks.

Ruth is a softly spoken person but her selfless actions towards other people sound the loudest echoes within the community. She loves people and commits her time and resources to help others.

She visits the sick and needy. She sweeps and cleans their yards and houses, and ensures their needs are met.

One of the extraordinary services Ruth does for her community is to provide drinking water for the village. I call it the ‘accessible water jar initiative’.

The village has a well located a few meters away from the main hub. Like other villagers, Ruth fetches water from the well each day. However, she fetches more drinking water jars dailyand places them in front of her home so drinking water is available to the public.

The entire village can drink from the jars at any time of the day. Sometimes the jars run out of water late at night. Ruth can tell when the jars are empty. Even if it’s 11pm, she gets up, collects the jars and walks to the well to refill them.

She does it voluntarily and faithfully every day. Her home is a place where the entire village can access drinking water.

Ruth is a single mum and is fully responsible for taking care of her family. She cultivates the land and feeds her family and other people. She sells food crops, oil and fish and earns money for basic needs.

She can fix a leaking roof and if needed renovate her house. She never asks for assistance but works with such a cheerful heart that, when men see her working, they show up and help her complete the tasks.

Not long ago, Ruth was recognised for her work and character and given leadership roles in the community. Her spirit of humility and love drove her up the leadership ladder. She performed extremely well.

I admire the kind of woman that Ruth is.

A woman who serves people with a heart of love. A woman who never complains, but willingly works to make things happen. A woman who does not demand her place in the society, but humbly leads by example and others follow suit. A woman that made a choice to build her life foundation on God.

Ruth has now passed on, but she has left a legacy. I aspire to be a Ruth. I will build my foundation on God, love unconditionally and strive to do my best in everything.

Ruth is my exemplar of a real Papua New Guinean woman and she will always be my mum.

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