I know you must be wondering, “what exactly does “Ufulu Groups” mean?”
In Chichewa, “ufulu” means freedom.
Simply put, we are all about mobilizing “freedom groups”: groups of women and men (if applicable) who are living in community and being empowered to experience freedom in their lives.
Freedom is a tricky word, because it means so many different things in different cultures. Freedom, in my Western mindset, means the ability to do, say and think the way I desire. It can be defined by money. Money gives me the freedom to pursue that dream job, take a fancy vacation, and pick which type of schooling I want for my kids. Webster defines freedom as, “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”
Freedom can mean something totally different in other cultures, especially if one is living in extreme poverty. Freedom, in this case, might mean being able to raise your children and provide their needs or not having to make the excruciating decision to place children in an orphanage so that they can have their basic needs met. Freedom may mean a safe place to live, income to purchase food, or the relief of not living day to day in danger. It may not mean the abundance of “choices” as in Western culture, but it’s the ability to actually have ONE choice.
In the culture we work within, there are so many factors that limit freedom: extreme poverty that takes away choices- choice in health care, choice in education for children, choice in work, choice in leaving abusive relationships, choice in the ability to raise children and not put them in orphanages. Freedom can be limited by poverty, lack of education, hard/unsafe labor conditions, lack of protection (especially for women), polygamy, a culture of silence that makes it extremely difficult to escape abusive situations.
Ufulu Groups exist to break these chains that limit freedom. Jesus speaks freedom over our lives through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is, therefore, our privilege to claim this freedom for ALL of our brothers and sisters. We can’t stop fighting until every single person experiences freedom in life. It’s a huge task, and overwhelmingly daunting, but each individual’s life matters to our Savior.