Lent calendar prayer and reflection for 9 March

Sheherezad in Israel

Sheherezad is an Israeli agricultural worker who is defending her worker's rights.

As for me, give me courage.

Esther 4:17

In today’s reading we hear Esther calling out to God in prayer asking for help in her time of need. The whole story of Esther centres around her risking her life to save her people; at this point in the story she is filled with fear at the thought of failing and perishing but she courageously does it anyway.

I have never had to risk my life or even livelihood to maintain my integrity but many people face this kind of challenge on a regular basis.

Sheherezad is an Arab agricultural labourer and citizen of Israel. She has struggled to find a job and has encountered exploitation in the work place. She speaks about her experience of work and the support she has received from CAFOD’s partner WAC-Ma’an.

“I first worked in agriculture via an Arab labour contractor,” she explains, “but I found out that the company was paying twice what I received – the contractor was making enormous profit at my expense. That same day I quit work.

“I found work at a packing house, and there I met women working via WAC-Ma’an. They were earning about the same as me, but I paid a lot for transport which they did not. But what caught my attention was that I saw a WAC representative, coming to visit them, to talk with them, help them solve problems, and asked them what they needed or if anything was lacking."

By talking to the other women, Sheherezad understood how she was being treated unfairly at work, and she decided enough was enough.  

Sheherezad is gaining confidence

Sheherezad now works with our partner WAC-Ma’an, where she has more employment rights and she knows her hourly rate. She has also gained confidence to stand up against exploitation.

“The [former] contractor called and offered me work, but I refused. I am not willing to let them take advantage of me. I don’t want to support him or that system of employment. I want him to understand that there is a problem: that workers are not willing to accept exploitation, and perhaps that way he’ll give the workers what they should get.”

Sheherezad, like Esther, has great courage and integrity, and she inspires me to always seek and stand up for what is right even if I face challenges along the way.

Prayer for courage

God of Justice, give us courage as we seek to bring about a fairer world by challenging the injustice we see. May we always stand alongside all those who experience exploitation or prejudice of any kind. Amen.

Act

Download our prayer The cry of my heart and pray for our sisters and brothers who are standing up against injustice.

Download the prayer

This reflection was written by Sarah Cadwallader who works with CAFOD’s Regional teams across England and Wales.

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