SUPHER rescuing women from abusive relationships
Moments after mulling over the fact that she was tired physically and mentally, Marie Berbick's phone lit up one morning with a message from one of the 35 women being kept afloat by the support group she founded five years ago, Sisters United for Prayer Healing and Empowerment and Restoration (SUPHER).
The message read: "Marie I want to die. I am going to kill myself. I feel hopeless, lifeless and unloved; I have no idea what my purpose in life is."
Berbick said SUPHER had been working with the young woman for about two years. She admitted the message caught her by surprise, but she immediately activated the plan she and the seven other directors of the group had formulated.
"Make contact and find out why she was feeling that way, pray with her, make arrangement to call her at various times of the day and send encouraging messages," Berbick explained. "After I prayed with her, her spirit was lifted. She is in an unhealthy relationship, which is pushing her over the edge."
Berbick, a devoted Christian, formed SUPHER after going through a divorce and not being able to find any support.
"Women in church who are going through divorce and other problems need counselling. We need people around to support, and we didn't have that kind of structure in the church. Maria Azan, a minister at the church, myself, and two other ladies decided that we were going to do something for ourselves," Berbick said.
The recent death of Azan had left Berbick feeling exhausted, which led her pondering her physical and mental state.
"I felt like I needed a break, but I can't take the break now because, as I was thinking that, within a jiffy someone was asking for support," Berbick said.
Since its inception, SUPHER has helped nearly 100 Jamaican women who have been through abusive relationships.
"We offer support in various ways. We have prayer groups, so when persons reach out to us and they need prayer, we come together as a group and we pray with them. You have persons who will write to us who are going through relationship issues and they need support in terms of counselling or need advice. How do they move forward? How do they deal with certain things?" Berbick said.
She said the SUPHER directors are women from various distinguished backgrounds, and thid enables them to effectively help the women who seek assistance.