January 26, 2011 by Intern
Over a year ago, I began the search for my summer plans. Discouraged by the continual doors being shut on different mission trips I had been pursuing, I began to ask the Lord what He was doing. I felt like my prayers were going unanswered. One night, in the midst of my frustration, my roommate began to tell me about an organization called Empowering Lives International. In his enthusiasm, he shared with me how lives were being changed in Kenya and how his life had changed as a result of visiting there. It was then the Lord began to softly whisper, “I promised that I would never leave you and I heard your prayer. Here you go!”
I began to prepare for my internship with excitement and anticipation. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but during my first weeks in Kenya, God captured my heart and gave me the opportunity to witness suffering and joy in a whole new way. I was placed with the Chepsat family, immensely connecting with my two host parents, Jonah and Mary (known as Baba and Mama Brian), and finding myself the big brother to the 24 adopted children in the family. I cannot express the love God gave me for those kids and for the community around me. The focus on relationships by drinking chai and talking for hours was something I looked forward to every day.
Halfway through my time in Kenya, I had a life-changing moment that is hard for me to even articulate. I can remember that night vividly because the air was so crisp and the sky was so clear and the billions of stars were shining so bright. Some of the boys in my house and I sat outside just looking at the stars and sharing stories. One of the boys took me aside and began to share with me his life story. His parents had died in an automobile accident when he was only five. Soon after, he moved in with his aunt, who physically abused him and sold alcohol and drugs in order to put food on the table. When the Ilula Children’s Home opened its doors, he was accepted into a family. Tears rolled down his face as he described in joy that he now has a school to attend, food to eat, parents who love him and a place to call home. (more…)
October 13, 2010 by Intern
“Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.” – Jonathan Swift
As an agribusiness student at Cal Poly (with no past farm experience whatsoever), I have always felt that God led me to study agriculture for a purpose, but for the past two years, I wasn’t sure why. I had to rely on God in faith to reveal it to me.
While interning in Kenya with Empowering Lives International, I was blessed with the opportunity to be a student of agriculture and learn from ELI instructors at the Kipkaren River Training Center. Through my experiences, the purpose of my studies became apparent. During a conversation with Isaac Ruto, an ELI staff member who teaches sustainable agriculture, he explained to me that over 80 percent of the country relies on agriculture for their income, but due to a lack of education, less than 15 percent are aware that the soils are far too acidic for efficient food production. It was during these trainings that I realized God was asking me to stop looking at my education in agriculture in business terms, but rather as a means of sustaining life for his children.
Food, and, consequently agriculture, is immensely important to the African people – not only for nourishment, but for economic well-being. Isaac recognizes this need and has devoted his life to helping people in his country develop agriculture skills beyond what they know, which is often small-scale and unfruitful. Isaac and other staff – through ELI – have empowered thousands of Kenyan and Tanzanian farmers by traveling to their remote villages and providing agriculture seminars.
I was able to accompany Isaac on five of these village visits and witness the vast impact ELI is making on every “knowledge hungry” farmer that he comes in contact with. Whether the seminar was taught in a classroom or under a tree, the locals took diligent notes to know how to increase crop yields and provide a better life for themselves and their families. The villagers welcomed Isaac and me with open arms and desire to learn. Some farmers traveled hours by foot with hope to learn sustainable agriculture skills and techniques. It was eye-opening to observe the incredible impact ELI has on farmers’ land productivity and economic well-being.
A woman stood up during one of the lectures and announced that after implementing Isaac’s teachings on corn production, she yielded 56 bags on one acre of land (a normal yield is approximately 25 bags per acre)! This incredible accomplishment earned her a nice surplus, which could pay for her children’s school fees and other needs, and also earned her an award from the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture. Her story truly exemplifies the positive impact that the training center and staff has on people beyond the village of Kipkaren, Kenya.
Through support, prayers and donations from people like you, ELI can impact the lives of people across Africa, and this empowerment is deeply rooted in agriculture. ELI is able to provide the knowledge that people want and need and, as a result, is making progress in the fight against hunger and poverty. I want to sincerely thank you for your partnership with ELI, because it allows God’s children to “make two ears of corn grow where only one grew before.”
Empowering lives ogether,