The food situation in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas is bleak. Families in Kenya are facing severe food shortage and livestock deaths due to extreme vegetation deficit. As at February 2017, the percentage of children at risk due to malnutrition increased to 20.1%.
In Lamu and Tana-River Counties, where World Concern operates, the situation has been further complicated by human-wildlife due to scarcity of water and vegetation.
Being the only fresh water lake in Mpeketoni, Lake Kenyatta plays an important role in both community livelihood and supporting the wildlife ecosytem. As the lake dries up, human-wildlife conflict is escalating in the area.
On a year that will be remembered as the worst in a generation unless we intervene now, World Concern is responding.
Rev. Paul Mutua is amazed by the fact that people differ in height, weight, and complexion. “How can it be real?” he wonders. Paul is blind. As a child, he remembers seeing the sun, moon and the stars. However, as he grew older his eyesight diminished as a result of natural causes and he became completely blind.
Rev. Mutua pastors at the Transformed Gospel Church in Mukuru kwa Njenga, Nairobi. His house is right across the church behind a pale red gate and along a row of iron sheet structures running parallel to an open sewer line. Passersby help him shuttle between the church and his house. On some days he has no money for food and on others he has no one to send for food.
Though he owned only a small section of the Old Testament, he had a strong desire to read the Bible in its entirety. He had to rely on a Swahili Audio Bible to shepherd his church. “Getting those books has been very difficult,” he says.
His neighbor Patrick Rukwaro says the constant question that Rev. Mutua has been asking over the last 10 years is where he could find the rest of the books of the Bible.
One volume of the Braille Bible is roughly the size of a telephone directory and weighs twice as much. A complete set of the Braille Bible is composed of about 43 volumes. This means that it can easily fill your car trunk.
A complete Bible
Early this year, World Concern presented a gift that Rev. Mutua will never forget – the entire New King James Version (NKJV) Braille Bible. His joy has known no end.
“God is good. You have helped me very much by bringing me those books. I don’t even know how to celebrate!”
“Since you informed Pastor that his Bible volumes were on the way, he got so excited that his conversations became centered almost solely on that,” said his neighbor Patrick.
“How can a ten year long desire be fulfilled by people who just met him? It is true that God answers prayers,” he continues.
Rev. Mutua can now read the complete Bible. He is immensely grateful to World Concern for this gift. “It’s a big blessing. To get something like that requires the hand of God. I have been waiting eagerly since I received a phone call informing me that they had been found. I was overjoyed. May God bless you very, very much,” he says.
World Concern continues to work with churches in Kenya to build their capacity in reconciling lives to God.
57 youth from Mukuru kwa Njenga slum graduated after attending a 12 week training dubbed Pepeta Initiative – a training that has helped them gain practical skills in personal finance management, life skills and group dynamics.
With a section working as casual laborers, and others running their own businesses, the youth made lots of sacrifices to complete the course. It was tough but worth it, they revealed:
This training has helped me very much. I didn’t know my work as the treasurer of the group; the training has helped me know how to manage the group’s money. Now we have policies, so the work has become easier because everyone is following the rules – Anastasia, Treasurer Embakasi South Ladies United
According to trainer Geoffrey Githinji, “The training has enabled learners be more aware of inner capacities they can utilize.”
To celebrate, youth from all 5 groups, trainers, church and area leaders as well as World Concern staff gathered at a colorful event with food and dance.
Speaker after speaker at the event termed the graduation as a beginning rather than an ending. “Transformation has just begun. We have been studying about business, about changing our behavior. We want World Concern to be there to witness our transformation,” said Alex Chalo, Chairman of Vijana wa Neema, a pioneer group of Pepeta Initiative training.
World Concern Africa Area Director Peter Macharia, who also spoke at the event, told the youth that God knows them and is able to fulfill the plans of their hearts.
You have helped us know how to live with people; if someone is wrong, we can correct him in a good way. You have also helped us know how to save because now when I get 200 shillings, I save 50 shillings, pay debts and spend the remaining amount – Sinaida, member Embakasi South Ladies United
We are very grateful to World Concern and Pepeta Initiative for uniting our group and bringing such training in our slum. We request that you continue coming to help the youth in the slum so that they can become more educated –Omosh, Amomo Group
Each graduate starts this journey with some well-thought group policy documents, strategic and business plans.
New Genesis group
World Concern is also assisting them to get mentors, apprenticeship opportunities and counseling where needed. It’s all part of holistic transformation – a journey we’re keen not to miss!
When Embakasi South Ladies United club regrouped this year, they had one goal: to reach finals or semi-finals of the Kenya women’s football premier league.
8 months later, the Embakasi South Ladies United has emerged second best in the recently concluded Nairobi Women Championship cup. The one month long competition entailed 16 women football teams in Nairobi battling it out for a trophy and prize money.
The team was formed with the aim of supporting young mothers and girls in Mukuru kwa Njenga slum.
For these girls, playing soccer has meant better time utilization which is helping them keep off vices such as drugs and alcoholism.
Embakasi South Ladies United is one of the 5 youth groups being supported by World Concern through a multi-sector project on entrepreneurship and self awareness which is facilitated by Commons, a Kenyan based organization.
The team’s efforts have paid off so far with the Ksh 100,000 prize money they bagged having emerged second.
According to team members Pauline, Anastasia and Everline, the quarter finals match was their most memorable. “Within the first three minutes of the game we had scored. In the first half, we had two goals and added two more in the second half,” said Pauline.
The team also produced the tournament’s top scorer and goal keeper.
Janet Moraa , 19 years old, born and brought up in Kisii but now lives in the slums of Mukuru kwa Njenga carried home the Nairobi Women Championship cup best scorer title, a trophy and KSh 25,000 having scored a total of six goals.
Martha Nyaboka, 22 years old, a mother of one who grew up in Mukuru Kwa Njenga has played football since age ten. She carried home the title of the best goalkeeper and pocketed KSh 25,000 as well.
Despite their lack of resources and little support for Women’s football in Kenya, commitment has kept this group going. “Sometimes we play some matches on empty stomachs,” one team member said.
In order to keep their families afloat, most members are resorting to running micro-enterprises during the day, and training for matches in the evening.
World Concern is boosting their incomes by training members in personal finance, group management as well equipping them with skills in running micro-enterprises.
“I no longer feel sad about being in the slums, instead my eyes are open to see the slum population as a ready market only if I begin to sell something relevant and affordable to them,” said Anastacia.
Embakasi Ladies United football club has organized a fundraiser on Saturday November 7th, 2015 to enable members to join computer colleges, dress making and beauty schools in order to improve their skills.
About 40 per cent of fruits grown in Mpeketoni, Lamu County’s food basket, go to waste during the peak season due to over production and low prices, reducing incomes of small holder farmers.
World Concern through the Government of Kenya’s Njaa Marufukuprogramme is addressing this challenge using a unique, innovative and inexpensive technology.
We facilitated a group of 18 farmers to dry mango fruits using solar energy.
The technology which was first introduced in the country by German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) uses solar panel, battery and greenhouse-like polythene paper called solar film to capture solar waves for drying fruits. Solar heat is harnessed by a solar panel and transmitted by fans as solar waves through a dryer enclosed with solar film.
Using this innovative technology, World Concern is helping improve incomes of small holder farmers through production of dried fruit snacks for sale. We are also cushioning them from perennial losses arising from lack of ready market and other post-harvest losses.
“We can store mangoes for a longer time and buy plenty of them from our farmers,” said Macharia, Mpeketoni Solar Dryer Group’s secretary. This way, the group will boost incomes of about 500 mango farmers in the area. “We hope to package the dried fruits for sale as a way of adding value,” he added.
Though the project focus was solely mango fruit, the group has gone ahead to dry other fruits and vegetables. “We’re now using the machine to dry tomatoes, sukuma wiki (kales) and cowpeas leaves at the moment,” said the chairman, Mr Geoffrey Mburu.
In this project, World Concern is training farmers on financial management and entrepreneurship, assisting them to set up operations as well as attaining relevant certifications.
Soon, Mpeketoni Solar Drier Self Help group will venture fully into the mango drying enterprise given their high fruit volumes, market demand and nutritious value of the fruit.
“We look forward to building a big business,” said Macharia.
During quiet reflective moments, I sometimes wonder what will happen when I’m gone.
As I ponder, I realize that life will still go on. My eyes become misty and then it dawns on me that a legacy is a good thing to leave behind.
In the humanitarian world – some kind of impact and sustainable projects.
So when I received an invitation to attend an event by a village bank in Embu, I was stoked. Mostly because Kigumo FSA which was started by World Concern more than a decade ago, and supported for only 4 years, is not only still running, but growing fast on its own.
Kigumo FSA started out in a rented building, but the group has over the years managed to purchase a piece of land and rehabilitate a building on it, to establish their fully owned premises. Today, the FSA boasts of 1615 members, a share capital of Ksh 3 million ($ 30,000) and loan portfolio of Ksh 4 million shillings ($ 40,000)
Financial Services Associations (FSA) were introduced as a more sustainable intervention of World Concern’s Micro-Finance program. An FSA, or ‘village bank’, is a facility wholly owned by the local community through shares.
As I sat to write this post, I realized I had been invited for a party I didn’t deserve to be in – I was in high school when that project started!
World Concern helped birth something that would affect the lives of people who would come a decade later – like me, and possibly their children, even generations; and today Kigumo FSA is a testimony that communities can take charge of their own transformation when properly facilitated.
Some photos from the July 25, 2015 event, below.
FSAs started by World Concern in remote parts of Embu and Narok have become extremely pivotal.
They enable families access mainstream banking services right in their villages: they save money, access normal and emergency loans, have 3rd party member & non-member cheques cleared, access bankers’ cheques as well as mobile money transfer services.
In mid-July, World Concern launched The Nairobi Slum Development Programme at Mukuru Kwa Njenga in Embakasi. Tens of representatives from 5 youth groups who are impatient to see positive change attended.
The launch was for an multi-sectoral programme in which World Concern is partnering with Commons Agencies, to build capacity in the slums. Youth who had taken part in an earlier Common Agencies’ training programme on self awareness and empowerment dubbed ‘Pepeta Initiative,’ described how it had impacted them:
“When we started out, we were earning about Ksh 5, 000 per month. The 35 of us would share it among ourselves. Now we earn up to Ksh 80,000,” said Alex Kyalo, Chairperson of Vijana Wa Neema self help group.
Together with partners, World Concern will offer Biblically-based life-skills training, Leadership development, Group management, Entrepreneurship, Mentoring, Apprenticeship as well as Addiction and family counseling. We will also empower churches to become agents of reconciliation in their own communities.
In his speech, Kenya Country Director Harun Mutuma emphasized that real transformation comes from Christ, terming that as a distinct area of focus for World Concern’s programme. The programme was then commissioned by Pastor Christopher Maina of LifeSpring Chapel- Embakasi.