About: Holly

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World Vision Sponsors a Second Group for Empowerment

July 5, 2012 by Holly

Last week, a second World Vision-sponsored group came through the Ilula campus.  From the Meibeki region in Kenya, this group of 34 learned many new skills in the areas of raising chickens, baking bread, keeping dairy cows, and growing kitchen gardens.

Why did World Vision send a second group for training so quickly after the first? According to Rebecca, the World Vision liason, the feedback from the participants of the first group was so overwhelmingly positive that the organization was eager to sponsor another group to come and learn from the Ukweli Training and Development Center (UTDC). This is true testimony to what God is doing here at UTDC to change and empower the lives in our surrounding communities.

Please keep these farmers in your prayers and they return home and incorporate these new skills into their daily lives.

Kipchiloi Farmer Training

June 25, 2012 by Holly

Last Friday, the Ukweli Training and Development Center in Ilula, Kenya welcomed 27 dairy farmers from the community of Kipchiloi. With the recent rains, the dirt roads here in Kenya have become difficult to travel on by car. The village of Kipchiloi is an hour from the Training Center, so there was concern that this might prevent the group from attending. However, neither rain nor mud could dampen the farmers’ eager spirit to learn new skills.

This particular group of farmers has recently banded together to form a dairy cooperative in order to get a better return for their milk products. They sought the help of the Training Center to further their skills and knowledge in the areas of dairy farming, kitchen garden planting, and drip irrigation. The practical training was well received by the farmers, as many commented that the other workshops they have attended lacked the real-world application. Training Center Manager Dennis Kiprop shared that, “We strive to teach the truth and not add any filler because the truth is what works. Our Training Center has been given the name Ukweli, which means truth, for that very reason.”

Please pray for these dairy farmers as they apply these new skills and strive to improve their cooperative.

Baking In The Garden

January 10, 2012 by Holly

The Ukweli Training Center in Ilula, Kenya has agreed to partner with the AIC Missionary College to provide a three-month training program to their missionary students. The course will instruct the students in areas of agriculture, personal hygiene and in the culinary arts. The hope is to empower these students with the necessary skills and knowledge to survive in hardship areas of the world.

This week, the students learned how to build a wood-burning oven, using bricks, mud and a steel drum, which was built in the Training Center’s demonstration garden. Later in the week when the mud had dried, Mrs. Mary Chepsat, a trained chef and one of the mothers at the Ilula Children’s Home, taught the students how to make bread and to properly bake it in the homemade oven. In about fifteen minutes, the bread was done to perfection. The day ended with a warm slice of bread, a true testament to the students’ hard work.

Three New Children At The Ilula Children’s Home

January 9, 2012 by Holly

Many of you may remember the Launch House article in the Spring 2011 Cultivate magazine, which told of a new house being built for the high school boys to come home to on holidays. The project was primarily undertaken to provide enough space to accept new children into the Ilula family.  It was decided that there would be room for 10 new boys; however, it was uncertain if there would be sufficient funding and if the right children could be identified. The Director of the Children’s Home, Laban Rono, and his staff prayed for many months for God to answer their prayers and provide direction. God is good and faithful and our prayers were just recently answered.

Three boys, ages 3, 4, and 7, arrived in Ilula on Tuesday to meet their new families and to see their new home. Mr. Rono introduced Tony, Ronald and Rogers to the crowd and within minutes these boys had made many new friends. For the parents, the long awaited day was sweet. Their hearts swelled with joy as they watched the children being embraced by their new brothers and sisters.  We praise God for these boys and the opportunity they now have for a bright and promising future. Please pray for them as they adjust to their new family and also for the remaining seven boys, that in time, they may also join us here at the Ilula Children’s Home.

By Jonah Chepsat

Guardians’ Day at the Ilula Children’s Home

December 21, 2011 by Holly

Guardians’ Day is an annual event at the Ilula Children’s Home and greatly anticipated by the children, for it is on this day that they get to see their extended families. Grandmas, aunts, uncles and cousins travel great distances to come and visit our children.  In years past, it was only a one-day event. Now, since the children are older, they get to return home with their families for a two-week Christmas visit.

The time spent with the families is essential, as it gives the children the opportunity to begin building relationships with the various family members and to know and understand the place from which they come. Additionally, it allows the children to secure any inheritance left to them by their deceased parents. In Kenya, children will lose their rights to the land if they do not stay in contact with the extended family. More than anything, we want ensure that these children have a support system in place when they leave the Children’s Home.

For the Ilula parents and staff here at Empowering Lives International, Guardians’ Day is bitter sweet. While joy filled our hearts to see the children embraced by their loved ones, tears filled our eyes as we watched them leave. The Children’s Home is now quiet and seems a different place. We are anxious to see our children again and to hear all their Christmas stories. Until then, please pray for their protection during these two weeks, that God may bring them back safely and with smiles on their beautiful little faces.

– By Jonah Chepsat

Mole Patrol at the Ilula Children’s Home

December 5, 2011 by Holly

It was in the early morning when Obed came running for me, calling my name.  I quickly came out of my house, not knowing what I might find. I saw Obed and then I saw the living creature hanging from the wire, struggling to escape – a large brown mole. Obed is a 14 year-old boy who loves trapping these animals. As he told of his experience, his voice was full of excitement, his hand eager to show me the fury animal.

Kenyan moles are very different from the ones found in America, as they are over a foot long and weigh three to four pounds.  They cause a lot of damage both in our kitchen garden and fruit tree orchard, destroying much of our crop.  To help reduce the number of moles in our area, we now pay the children 30 shillings (about 30 cents) per mole caught.

We asked Kenneth, an older boy of ours, to teach the other children how to make their own traps using sticks, green sisal ropes, a wire and a hoe.  After the training workshop, Obed went home and began work on his own traps. I snapped this picture of him as he was setting one of them, anxious to see if it would work and as I found out, it certainly did!  As a farmer and father, I was proud of Obed’s accomplishment; I know he is saving his earnings to buy his own ewe.   He is a hero to me. May he continue to develop his talent.  As for the moles, over 30 of those nasty animals have been caught this year. I pray our success continues, as we begin our second planting.

– By Paster Lucas Rono

Christmas Comes Early to the Ilula Children’s Home

December 5, 2011 by Holly

The season of giving is an important time for the Ilula Children’s Home, as it receives many needed supplies from the local communities. Banks, companies and distant relatives of the children bless the home with clothes, food and holiday treats. On Saturday the Children’s Home received over 60 visitors from the Cooperative Bank Eldoret Branch who brought with them large bags of beans, rice, sugar and cooking oil.

The children rejoiced with our guests in great celebration. Speeches were made, songs were sung and many bible verses were recited.  The visitors were very impressed with our children and even inspired by their poise, joyful spirits and knowledge of the Bible. The day ended on a very special note. Each child received a bottle of soda, biscuits and a lot of candy. We really thank God for allowing Christmas to come early this year to our Home.

– by Nixon  Kiprotich

Chaya to be Grown in South Sudan

November 11, 2011 by Holly

Steve Reech, Empowering Lives’ Director of South Sudan, recently visited the Ukweli Training Center in Ilula, Kenya. While touring the demonstration garden, he was introduced to a new vegetable now being grown in Kenya called chaya, a green leafy vegetable that grows from a tree-like stem. Referred to as “tree spinach”, it is believed that it originated in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Chaya grows well in extremely dry areas, offering twice the protein as spinach and ten times as much Vitamin C as an orange. Steve grew more enthusiastic as he continued to learn about this new vegetable, thinking of ways this plant could be used back in his country.  He said, “These chaya plants are so good, because in our area we have no vegetables. People eat fish and meat once a year or once every two years.  A typical meal is millet and water.  I am so glad to have these vegetables, because they can help make our bodies strong.  There are many malnourished children in my area, so the community will benefit greatly from this vegetable. We will start by planting the chaya on the school grounds and in the community.  When community members eat it, they will take some home to grow and feed their families, and their children will gain vital nutrients from it.” Steve left the Ukweli Center with a smile on his face and an arm full of chaya stems. Please pray for Steve as he begins this new journey of planting chaya in South Sudan.

Prayer Day for National Exams

November 10, 2011 by Holly

The school year in Kenya begins in January and concludes with final exams in November. Students in 8th grade are required to take a national exam, which will play a key role in determining the child’s future both academically and professionally.

The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) is a 4 day exam that tests the students on all they have learned throughout the past 8 years.  The children only get one chance to take this exam; no allowances are granted for sickness, tardiness or grievances.  The result of the KCPE determines which boarding school the children will be assigned to for high school. Exam marks are usually released 3 or 4 days after the Christmas holiday. Children and parents anxiously wait to hear the scores and pray they are sufficient enough to get them into a good school.  Most high schools are either public or provincial and generally offer a low quality education.  So for the children to be accepted into a national school, very high marks will be needed. While the students know their exam results at the end of December, they will not know which high school they have assigned to until mid-January.

There are 775,820 national 8th grade students, referred to as candidates, this year. Less than half will get admission into high schools. The pressure is immense and the students fully understand that their future livelihoods are at stake.  This year the Ilula Children’s Home has 13 candidates sitting for the KCPE. To prepare, support and encourage these students for exam week, a Prayer Day was held last Saturday at the Samro Primary School. Guardians, relatives, teachers and students came together to seek God’s help and divine intervention as the students take their exams.  Please pray for our candidates, that they may have health, peace and confidence as they proceed through the next two months.

– by Laban Rono