About: dianacoombs

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Fire in DR Congo

May 12, 2016 by Diana Coombs

SOP Email Banner - The Poor

SOP Poor Flames 5-9-2016

The fire raged, a huge orange flame lighting up the sky. By the time it was contained, it had consumed 40 homes. For a slum in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it was a miracle there were no casualties.

The Keredi slum is located in a valley between two hillsides, and the poorest live at the bottom. All of our students at the ELI Christian Academy live here. Homes are packed tightly together, made mostly of wood, mud, and tin roofs. They are propped on stilts for when the rains flood the floor of the slum. When it is rainy season, the ground becomes a trap of sticky mud, very difficult to walk in, especially when all you own is a pair of flip flops or nothing at all. Sewage winds between the homes, and makeshift bridges made from planks of wood allow you to cross over. Trash litters the ground. Life is harsh and every morning means you survived one more day.

We received an email from our ELI DRC Director confirming news of the fire. Four of our students had lost their homes. The origin of the fire is still unknown and the government is doing nothing to investigate or assist the families affected. We thank God that no one was physically hurt and only material items were damaged. But for families who barely survive on $1 a day, this was devastating.

SOP Poor Burnt Homes 5-9-2016

Understanding the great need, our staff in DRC, teachers, and students collected as much as they were able ($64) to purchase clothes, books, shoes, cups, plates, pots and pans to give to the four families in our school who lost their homes. Groups visited the families and prayed with them, offering comfort in the midst of great loss.

When tragedy hits the poor, the ramifications are severe. There are no insurance policies to fall back on. The dollar you earn a day cannot replace the home you built or repurchase clothes and supplies that burned. You rely on your community to help out.

And we are their community.

This is an opportunity for you, me and the ELI School to shine the light of Christ to the thousands in the Keredi slum. We are setting a goal to raise $20,000 by the end of May to help the families of our students who lost their homes and to provide for children coming to our school. The ELI school offers quality education and food for over 650 children in the Keredi slum – 650 children equipped to conquer the cycle of poverty and share the hope of Christ to their community.

Join us as together, as we are empowering lives!

donate today button

 

 

Diana Coombs

Vulnerable Children Program Manager

Empowering Lives International

Miracles in Kenya

April 6, 2016 by Diana Coombs

Jacob 9-22-2015 (web)

It was around this time last year that we sent Jacob, Calvince and Peter to India for a bone marrow transplant. It is with such joyful hearts that we can report to you that Jacob is back in school and doing well! He has regained strength and his smile is as radiant as ever!

Though a man of few words, his smile and strength expresses his gratefulness for the ways he saw you come together to see his healing.

Jacob is not the only child in our Children’s Homes who has received medical attention with the help of donations from friends like you. Recently, Kevin, one of the boys who was welcomed into the Kipkaren Children’s Home in 2014, received surgery to correct his left leg and foot. His left leg was bowed and his foot turned upwards, making it difficult to walk. This February 2016, donations allowed him to receive surgery. He is currently healing and can’t wait to run and play soccer with his friends.

KK-107 Kevin Collage 1 (600px)

Special gifts have made it possible for us to address the extra medical needs of our orphaned children. And we are seeing God heal them!

We still have other children in need of special medical attention and ongoing medical needs. For example:

David, 10 years old, needs surgery to correct his knees as they face inwards, making it difficult to walk.

Enock, 10 years old, has one leg that protrudes outwards, making one leg shorter than the other and very difficult to walk.

If you would like to donate a one-time or monthly gift towards special medical needs of our kids:

  • CLICK HERE to be directed to our online giving page
  • Under “Gift Information” choose “Orphans and Vulnerable Children”
  • From the drop down, select “Help vulnerable children”
  • In the “Comments” section, type in “Child Healthcare”

Thank you!

Equipping our Children

February 18, 2016 by Diana Coombs

SOP Email Banner - Equip

“Train. Launch. Mentor. Grow.” We want this for our kids! Thanks to you, this is the kind of opportunity Empowering Lives International is able to offer the orphans in our Children’s Homes.

Graduated boys

Just last week, a third group of our kids graduated from a Business for Life course. Business for Life is a month-long business course started by ELI missionary and BFL Project Director Wendy Twycross with the motto: “Train. Launch. Mentor. Grow.” She and her team are passionate about empowering people with tools to become self-sustainable. In doing so, they restore dignity and help break the cycle of poverty.

We are so proud of our kids’ hard work this past month!

When each student arrived, they began with 500 Kenyan shillings (about $5) to start their businesses. They researched the needs around them and analyzed how they could meet those needs with the resources available to them.

Some children made food such as samosas (fried pastry with a savory filling) and sold it in the community. They could earn up to 1,500 shillings by the end of the coursea 200 percent profit! They were shocked at how they turned something little into something much bigger.

Making Samosas

Students making samosas.

These are our children, and we want to see them flourish.

What is unique about ELI’s Children’s Homes is that we adopt orphans into families. Just like any good parent, we want each of our children to thrive and succeed into adulthood.

As our first group of children graduated from high school in 2013, we prepared for their next steps outside of the Children’s Home. We always ask the question, “How can we best equip our children?”

Now, all of our high school graduates are sponsored to attend Business for Life. They learn business principles in light of the Kingdom of God and then put the theories into practice. Each student comes up with and implements a business venture for their community.

With the proper tools, motivation and hard work, we see how equipping our children with business skills helps them now and into their futures. They not only learn how to start a business, but they also learn how to manage money and develop healthy relationships with others.

Through your donations, you make this possible. You equip our children with skills that will help them become more responsible, creative and self-sustainable. Thank you!
Empowering Lives Together,

Diana Coombs
Vulnerable Children Program Manager
Empowering Lives International

Jacob Is Standing!

June 11, 2015 by Diana Coombs

Jacob standing

Praise report: The new bone marrow introduced into Jacob is working so far! Jacob is able to walk, eat, talk and even take a shower. Praise God that he is doing well. Please continue to pray for Jacob’s complete healing and against any infection as his immune system is still low. He will still need to stay in India for another two months as doctors track his progress.

We are so grateful for Peter, who has been making sure Jacob takes medicine as scheduled and eats at the appropriate times. He is doing a great job of caring for Jacob while he recovers. Please continue to pray for Peter and Jacob, as they are away from family. Pray also that Peter and Jacob will feel the presence of God wherever they are and to be lights for Jesus to those they encounter.

Great Love

June 1, 2015 by Diana Coombs

By Don Rogers, Founder and International Director

Calvince at KKCH for web
Calvince (middle) stands with children and staff from the ELI Kipkaren Children’s Home in Kenya
 

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

Little did Calvince know that his care for his brother would mean traveling to India, three days in a cold, isolated room and a run-in with the police. Even with knowing in advance all this unique journey would entail, he would repeat the same journey, because it meant helping save his younger brother’s life.

Calvince was a teenager when Jacob, his younger brother, was brought into the Children’s Home in Kipkaren, Kenya. Both boys and their two other siblings were orphaned and left with their uncle who had three children of his own. However, he was unable to provide for their needs in addition to those of his own children. While looking to admit the children into the Empowering Lives’ Children’s Home, he was tragically killed in a roadside accident. Jacob and his younger brother were the most vulnerable of the four siblings and were welcomed into the Kipkaren Children’s Home in 2006. Sponsors from the USA partnered with ELI to see that Jacob would be fed, loved and educated.

Six years later, Jacob’s health declined. He was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Jacob’s siblings were tested to see if they could be a bone marrow donor. The news came back with positive results that Calvince, his older brother, was a perfect match. After weeks of research for the proper location for the procedure, a journey to India was set into motion.

The bone marrow transplant is now complete, and Jacob is still in India this month recovering. Calvince has since returned to Kenya. He shared with the staff and family at the Kipkaren Children’s Home about his journey back.

Calvince arrived in Nairobi, Kenya from India at around nine in the evening, so he spent the night there. Early in the morning, he took a public shuttle heading to Eldoret, but on the way, the driver failed to stop at a police check and was then stopped after a few miles. Every person in the van was taken to the police station and held there. Calvince and all of the passengers, along with the driver, had to appear before a judge and pay a heavy fine. This process took the whole day. Our Kipkaren Children’s Home director was finally able to pick up Calvince in the evening to then arrive home at 1 a.m.

The children at the home had planned to welcome him with singing and many cheers, but by 1 a.m., they were all asleep. One of the Children’s Home mothers kept dinner warm for Calvince, and soon after, they were all fast asleep.

The next day, Calvince was anxious to return to his own home in Kisumu, Kenya but took some time in the morning to share about the procedure in India.

After narrating the initial journey from Kenya to India, Calvince shared how they were warmly received by the hospital agents and given a good orientation upon arrival. He was so grateful that he was able to be the donor who could help his brother and is very happy about the positive response Jacob is showing. He said he was scared when he was put in a medical isolation room for three days preparing him to donate the bone marrow (he ended up needing to donate twice). When the bone marrow harvesting process began, he was put under anesthesia so he wouldn’t feel any pain. When he woke he was fatigued and had some pain in his back, which are normal short-term side effects of surgically donating bone marrow.

Jacob had also been going through isolation and treatment for a week before the procedure. The last two days of isolation were very crucial to prevent illness, as Jacob’s immune system had been wiped out. The process of introducing the harvested bone marrow from Calvince into Jacob took an entire day.

Calvince left India when Jacob was still in an isolated recovery room. Calvince said, “I realize that in God, everything was possible.” He was so grateful to everyone who stood with his brother. He said he will always remain faithful to God because of the great things that happened to Jacob.

Update on Jacob

As of today, his Children’s Home father, Peter, shared that Jacob was to be released from the hospital in India and will be staying with him in the guesthouse. He said Jacob is doing quite well, and the doctors are impressed with the way he is responding. Jacob will be under observation for the next month before they can decide on the next step.

Once again, we are all so grateful for each and every person who prayed and contributed so that Jacob could receive this life-giving procedure. There is still a journey ahead, but we are giving thanks for you and how far we have reached.

You can partner with Empowering Lives International in helping to raise up children like Jacob, providing physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Sponsor a child today.

NEW! Video for Jacob

February 19, 2015 by Diana Coombs

 

Jacob Vimeo

Watch our video featuring Jacob and spread the love!

 

Prayer for the 8th Grade Students

October 27, 2014 by Diana Coombs

Prayer Day

Starting next Monday, 8th grade students across Kenya will be taking an important four-day exam that will determine what high school they will be accepted into. Testing begins on Monday, November 3 and ends on Thursday, November 6. Students study long hours in order to score high grades and be accepted into good high schools. Our sponsored children would appreciate prayers as they prepare for the exams and as they take them next week.

Please partner with our Kenyan friends TONIGHT as they gather to pray for the 8th grade students.

Want to join ELI’s prayer team? CLICK HERE to sign up!

Alcohol and Orphans

May 1, 2014 by Diana Coombs

Why are there so many orphans in Africa?

That is a very good question and one that has many factors to explain why there are so many orphans. I’m not going to dive into all the details, but, I do want to draw the correlation between how empowering former alcohol brewers and rehabilitating alcoholics is helping stop children from being orphaned.

More and more grandparents and relatives are left with the responsibility of caring for their family member’s children. Parents die of sickness and disease and some abandon their children, never to be seen again. It is these orphaned children that ELI welcomes into our Children’s Homes. We recently welcomed in 13 new young girls and boys who have been orphaned. Three of the children in particular have been impacted by the evils of alcohol abuse.

New Children Running

(more…)

New Year, New School, New Adventures

January 30, 2014 by Diana Coombs
Form 1 Girls

Packed and looking “smart” in their uniforms, our girls are ready to make the drive to their new Secondary School, Liberty Girls, in Eldoret.

 

Our first group of Form 1 (9th grade) girls have officially left for school. By, “left for school”, I mean, packed their suitcases, a new mattress and all their necessities to head off to boarding school. They will return back home during their school holiday breaks in April, August and December. This is customary in Kenya where children entering into high school attend boarding school. Please keep these precious girls in your prayers as they study, grow, develop and shine the light of Jesus.

 

Christmas in Kipkaren

January 16, 2014 by Diana Coombs

By Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer, Kipkaren, Kenya

I know Christmas was three weeks ago, but take a moment to think about what it looked like for you.  Did you have a Christmas tree?  A house full of decorations?  Presents galore?  Maybe even some snow?

Can you envision what Christmas is like in Kenya?  I couldn’t.  Until this year when I was fortunate enough be a part of the Empowering Lives’ celebration in Kipkaren, Kenya.  There was no tree.  Few decorations.  Zero presents.  And it was hotter than ever.  But it was a day rich with culture, fellowship, and fun.

The day started at 3 a.m. with the mamas and girls from the Kipkaren Children’s Home cooking chapatti (an authentic African favorite similar to a tortilla).  When you are cooking for four hundred plus people an early start is a must!

Making Chapti

Making Chapti

Who were the four hundred plus people?  (more…)

Esther – One woman’s story among empowered lives

December 10, 2013 by Diana Coombs

By DiAnne Drachand (ELI Ambassador)

From left to right: Mary, Penina, DiAnne and Esther

From left to right: Mary, Penina, DiAnne and Esther

In our busy holiday activities, I thought you might just want to take a moment to look closely into the lives of some women I met in Kenya. Empowering Lives International is doing an amazing job of transforming lives. Here is a peek into a world we can only imagine. Join me while I give thanks for those who are doing the work on the front lines.

Upon our arrival in Ilula, Kenya we were greeted by the sight of about 90 women – some young with babies on their backs, some old with wrinkled faces, many with colorful bandannas on their heads. They filed into the training room amid the sound of scraping plastic chairs over the mud-spotted floors due to days of rain. I slipped into the back of the room as their attention was drawn back to the animated teacher of the day. I did not understand the language, but I could tell these women (and three men) were giving him rapt attention. Their futures depended on what was to happen over the next few days.  (more…)

Thank you, Kiprops!

December 2, 2013 by Diana Coombs

By, Amy Rogers

Kiprop Family 2012 (web)

Empowering Lives International we have had the blessing and privilege of serving with Michelle Kiprop for the last eight years in ministry.  We are grateful for the many ways that God has used Michelle to bring hope and healing to so many in Kenya.  In October, Michelle, along with her husband William and son Ryan launched a new ministry called Hope Matters.  Michelle will continue to fulfill her calling and passion to bring comprehensive healthcare to needy communities throughout Kenya. We are grateful to the Kiprop family and all that they have contributed to the ministry of Empowering Lives over the last eight years. We pray God’s abundant blessing on their family and new ministry. We look forward to all that God will do through the work and ministry of Hope Matters in the years to come.

Educate a Community: God our Rescuer

November 14, 2013 by Diana Coombs
Riziki and Chantal stand in front of their home

Riziki and Chantal stand in front of their home

She answered our questions with no hint of emotion. It was almost as if she was numb to the pain and poverty that is the reality of her life, so, I was surprised when her answers were filled with hope.

“Do you sometimes feel God’s Love?”

“Yes.”

“How do you feel God’s love?”

“He takes care of me and rescues me from my problems.”

Chantal has hope even though her circumstances speak otherwise.

She rents a six foot by six foot wooden shack in the middle of a slum in Bukavu, D.R. Congo. (more…)

Donate Blood, Save Lives & Send Children to School

November 12, 2013 by Diana Coombs

Blood for missions

On Sunday, November 17, North Hills Community Church is hosting a blood drive through Blood for Missions. This blood drive will benefit ELI’s ministries because for every pint donated, $20 will be given to sponsor a child for 2 months in ELI’s South Sudan School! For more details, visit northhills.us or call 909-945-5440.

 

Date: Sunday, November 17
Time: show up anytime between 10 am – 2 pm 
Place: 10601 Church St., Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730

*To donate, you must be 17 years old (16 if a parent is present), healthy, have no tattoos in the past year or have traveled to any malaria-risk areas in the past year.

Meet Sandra Cherop Were

November 7, 2013 by Diana Coombs

By Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer

Hard-working
Welcoming
Loving
Leader

Meet Sandra Cherop

Sandra and I bonded right away when I was in Kenya for one month last year. Why? I carried her on my back from the medical clinic to the Children’s Home. She was so ill with malaria she couldn’t make the two-kilometer walk.

From that point on, we were good friends. And I think we would both agree that saying goodbye last year was difficult.

Sandra and Colleen

(more…)

Educate a Community: South Sudan History

October 17, 2013 by Diana Coombs

Plane

We drove out to an open field to see a war plane. I honestly didn’t know why we were doing that or what to expect. The car was parked on the dirt road and all of us climbed out. I followed our Sudanese friends through the dry field and started to recognize remnants of a plane in the distance. The colors it was painted camouflaged itself in the tall dry grass. When we got to the plane, we all began to examine it, climb on it and talk about it.

How did it get here? (more…)

Meet Mercy Chelimo

October 10, 2013 by Diana Coombs

By, Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer

Merciful
Compassionate
Attentive
Sincere

Meet Mercy Chelimo

KK-065 Mercy Chelimo 1 (web)

I think God must have divinely inspired her mother and father when they selected a name for their daughter. I can’t think of a more fitting name. Mercy’s eyes exude just that, a spirit of mercy and compassion. And if you make eye contact with her or tell her a joke or do something to get her to smile, you will see her face light up the entire room. Chelimo is her Kalenjin tribal name which means “born when taking the cows from being fed”. (more…)

Educate a Community: History of D.R. Congo

October 3, 2013 by Diana Coombs

I learned this saying in history classes throughout my school days as a child and into college: “Those who don’t learn the past are doomed to repeat it.” There are some great events and people in the past we learn about and want to repeat or emulate, but, there are also events and people we learn of that we don’t want to be influenced by. It wasn’t until I stood on the very soil where millions of people were killed that the wise saying I learned sank in.

My colleagues and I had a layover in Kigali, Rwanda, on our way to Bukavu, D.R. Congo, to visit ELI’s school. Micah and I decided to take the short drive to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. To be honest, I didn’t know much about what had happened in Rwanda and why so many people were massacred in 1994. As I stood looking at the mass graves below, I couldn’t believe that it all happened when I was 11 years old! Genocide happens in my lifetime? I was shocked! I thought that was something of the past like when I learned about the Holocaust in world history classes. Even that seemed far removed even though it happened during the time period when my grandparents were born.

Mass graves located at the Rwandan Genocide Memorial

Mass graves located at the Rwandan Genocide Memorial

What caused this modern day genocide and why was it hitting me so hard? (more…)

Meet Stellah Jepchirchir

October 2, 2013 by Diana Coombs Setllah on High Jump

By Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer

Faithful.
Eager.
Determined.
Thoughtful.

Meet Stellah Jepchirchir.

KK-059 Stellah Jepchirchir (1) web

Stellah’s mom died when she was seven months old in a motor accident.

Her father’s identity is unknown so her Aunt Margaret took over her care. Stellah knew her Aunt Margaret as mom.

When Stellah was six, she was told to pack a bag for boarding school, which is very common in Kenya. She was excited for the opportunity to go to school! Stellah didn’t realize she was going to a Children’s Home until she saw all the kids welcome her at the gate. (more…)

Inevitable Transformation

September 26, 2013 by Diana Coombs

By Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer

Children's Home Welcome

Multiple times over the last year people have asked me what I did last summer in Kenya and then of course what I will be doing in the year ahead.  I usually explain that part of my job will be spending time with the orphans at the Children’s Home in Kipkaren – helping them with English, with homework, and just spending one on one time getting to know them.

I say “I’ll be living with 100 orphans” like its no big deal, as though the word orphan has become a part of my every day vocabulary.

When I catch myself saying orphan so nonchalantly, I’m often shaken back into reality when I see the reaction of those I tell.

You mean they are all orphans?

Yes.

You mean both of their parents are dead?

Yes.

You mean they were left abandoned and unattended and didn’t have anyone to take care of them?

Yes.

 

I see the look on your face, as you try to process what that means. (more…)