In this moving blog, SAT-7’s Algerian producer Samia Kessai shares how the challenges of life in North African villages leave women saying, “We were born to die.” Through her programmes, Kessai wants to show that God says these women deserve life – and life in abundance.
I have seen nothing in my life. I first opened my eyes here, in my parents’ house, and 41 years later, I am still here.”
This is the story of a friend of mine. She lives in a village in Algeria, she is not married, and when I first met her, she had never, ever left her parents’ house. Why? She had no opportunity. She is illiterate. She cannot go out to study, to meet anyone or even to go shopping. She is 41 years old. And because she is not married and cannot get a job elsewhere, society obliges her to stay at home.
This life of isolation, of pressure from family and society, is the situation of many, many women in small villages. Early marriage is often the result, with girls accepting the first offer of marriage the family receives, for fear of missing their only chance to leave the house where they were born. For some, there is the constant risk of violence from family.
In addition, most rural women live in poverty. They often cannot read or write, having never attended school and having worked in the fields from a young age. Their families have been subsistence farmers for generations, scratching out a living while unable to grow enough fruit or vegetables to sell.
“We were born to die”
I cannot express how these women are suffering. They suffer on every level: from isolation, stigma from society, poverty and often health challenges. These women are only surviving, not living. One told me, “We were born to die. Not to live. Not to live a good life.” When we were last in the area, we heard that a woman nearby had killed herself at age 38. The problem was the same – her family did not want her to leave the house.
As for my friend, I shared the Gospel with her four years ago, and praise God – she became a Christian. But even within her home, she faces restrictions. Her mother knows she is a believer, and she burned the Bibles I gave her. There is no church my friend can access, and she has no internet. She has a lot of questions, but no answers.
FROM DEATH TO LIFE
My friend tells me that her only refuge is Christian television. This is true for many isolated women – and this is why I produce women’s programmes for SAT-7 ARABIC. Our new programme, Despite All, shares the stories of women believers from Algeria and Tunisia.
The subjects are determined by the stories we receive from local women – single motherhood; divorce; child marriage; breast cancer. In each episode, we share a woman’s story and dive deeper into the issue with discussion and facts. Then, we offer encouragement by explaining what the Bible says. Finally – crucially – we share the testimony of a woman who struggled with the same problems and found hope in Christ.
So many of the women I speak to have no hope. We want to show how God can change these women’s lives “despite all”. When a woman says, “I was born to die,” she is waiting for nothing; she is desperate. This programme will encourage that woman and lead her to find hope in Christ.
One viewer of our programmes, who is blind, said to me, “I cannot see anything, but I can feel everything. I can imagine the woman sharing her testimony on the programme and how God is moving in her life.” I cried when I heard her words.
My prayer is that God will reveal Himself to these women – that He will meet them amid their suffering and struggle, and turn the existence they are living – which is like a form of death – to life.
- Pray for rural women, like Samia’s friend, who feel totally hopeless and desperate. Ask God to meet with them and give them His hope.
- Thank God for the programme Despite All, and ask that it will bring a form of fellowship and comfort to housebound women.
- Praise God for Samia and her heart for isolated Algerian women.
- Praise God that satellite television showing SAT-7 is available even in the most rural parts of Algeria, and pray that it will provide a refuge to those with no other support or fellowship.