This Is How I Lead is a series on the ZOE Blog.
We love learning from others...so we have asked some good questions of great female leaders across the globe. We hope it will inspire you in your own leadership! If you have some questions for these women, post it in the comments section.
This is How I Lead - Kathy Bowler
Who are you?
I am Kathy Bowler, wife, mother of 2 children, physiotherapist and occupational therapist and director of Children of Blessing Trust.
Where do you minister?
I live and work in Lilongwe, Malawi in Central Africa.
How long have you worked with vulnerable women?
I primarily work with vulnerable children, especially those with disabilities. I have been doing this since 1987, first in Canada, then Mexico, Botswana and now for the past 18 years in Lilongwe, Malawi. As we work with the children here in Lilongwe, meeting their physical needs, we see many of their families are in distress. Many of these families are single parent families, most headed by women. We cannot work with the child in isolation but need to work together with the family in a holistic manner. This has brought us to the place where we try and assist the families to be self sufficient, providing them with small businesses. We have been helping women on a very small scale for many years but have been scaling this up over the past year.
Using three words, how would you describe your leadership style?
Passionate, Creative, Hardworking
How do you go about empowering women in your context?
We want the moms of our children with disabilities to love their children the way they are and to see the potential God has given the child to grow and develop to become all that they can be. We want the moms (and their families) to be able to thrive and not just survive. First we model the love and acceptance of Christ to them and to their child with a disability. We offer them hope for the child’s future. We offer practical assistance in the form of therapy, education, special services and equipment. We train the moms through our parent workshops giving them the skills they need to care for their child well. We come alongside the families through the Child Care Plus Sponsorship providing whatever support the child needs including food packs if needed. Then we identify those who are still very vulnerable and offer them small businesses. We supervise and train them to run the business in an effective way, ensuring that there are funds available to continue the business. We teach them to keep the money in the bank until they have enough to purchase the next set of goods only then taking the profits to spend on their families, thus ensuring sustainability of the business.
Who has been your greatest influence in your development as a leader? (Dead or Alive)
Jesus and the Holy Spirit! I was called to the Mission Field connected to my love for children with disabilities. It has guided and directed my path over the years. I truly would not be where I am today if God had not placed his call on my life!
What specific ways have you worked to develop your skills?
I have tried hard to be flexible and creative in the way that I interact with the families I work with. I always look for the possibilities not the problems. My husband has been a great resource to me as well as he is a Community Development Specialist. His skill set is very different than mine so they compliment each other.
What is the greatest need you see in women around you?
Hope for their future and for their children with disabilities.
If someone wanted to get involved, what could they do to help?
We are looking for short or mid or even long term global workers to come alongside us to support the Administrative side of the work here. We are looking for an Office Manager. We also need professional help in terms of Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists and Special Education Teachers.
If you had one piece of advice for someone who wanted to do what you do, what would you tell them?
If God is calling you to come answer the call you will not regret it! He is faithful to provide all that you need – usually much more than you can even dream or imagine!
Thanks Kathy... you are truly inspiring!
Want to help Kathy and leaders like her around the globe?