Somewhere over the rainbow – Mona’s story

A young girl with a special pair of shoes. Collapsing houses. A journey to follow a dream… Courage. Heart. Wisdom. The deep belief that there’s no place like home… Sound familiar? A well-loved fiction? No. This story is true.

Why would a girl come to tea without shoes?

Mona was four. At four, you already start to understand the rules. And Mona understood that, in Indonesia, when you visit someone’s house, you wear shoes. So why did this girl, visiting Mona’s home, not? It didn’t seem right.

She asked her mum.
‘Her parents probably can’t afford them,’ came the answer.

No. It didn’t seem right to Mona at all.

The following Sunday, they were getting ready for church. ‘Where are your new shoes?’, Mona’s mum asked. ‘I don’t have them any more,’ said little Mona. ‘I gave them to the girl.’

Sure enough, the next time the girl came to visit, there on her feet were the lovely new shoes Mona’s mum had bought for her.

The dreams that you dare to dream...
But shoes weren’t enough to give away for Mona. As she grew up, she and her cousins shared their hopes for the future with each other. They dreamed of financial stability and travel – perfectly wonderful, respectable dreams – but Mona dreamt of building houses for those who didn’t have them.

God had placed a calling on her heart. A step up from footwear for the barefoot, she envisioned homes for the homeless. How she was going to manage it, though, she didn’t really know.

Fast forward to 2004. The devastating Boxing Day Tsunami. Mona ended up involved in the response. ‘Look,’ her cousins pointed out. ‘You’ve achieved your goal.’ It hadn’t even occurred to Mona, but she had. The project she worked for had built houses for people who lost theirs in the disaster. She may not have physically dug the foundations, but she had played an integral part in building them. Without even realising it, she had done what God had placed on her heart to do.

‘Since I was small,’ she says ‘I learnt that God has given his only Son to help the world, including me, so I feel like it is one of my obligations to always help others.’

Now, at 61, Mona is managing the Sulawesi earthquake response in Indonesia for an organisation Tearfund supports called Yayasan Bumi Tangguh. In fact, the project she’s working on will build no fewer than 270 houses – 48 of which will be funded by Tearfund – for people who lost their homes in the earthquake.

Making skies blue
Mona’s story is a beautiful picture of the heart and compassion of so many of our partner staff. Everything we do relies on people like Mona who are willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus. They are helping people to stand up and build brighter futures, even in the aftermath of the most terrible disasters.

‘I feel that I am blessed by God,’ she says, ‘so I'd like others to have God's blessings too.’

Shoes. Houses. Hope. Mona is sharing these things. Her slippers are possibly not ruby, and perhaps it’s not an emerald city she’s approaching... but how sweet the feet of those who carry the good news of a compassionate Father. How precious the kingdom of a God who is not a charlatan wizard, but the Most High. A kingdom brought straight to earth in acts of such love as these.


  • Thank God for the servant hearts of people like Mona – for their willingness to respond to his call. Pray that they will be blessed in their work.
  • Pray for the ongoing response in Indonesia – that those who have lost homes and livelihoods will have hope and provision.
  • Praise God for his great compassion. Pray that he will continue to teach us to love and serve one another in the different ways he gives to each of us.
Tarryn Pegna