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Jacob Returns Home

August 7, 2015 by Tori Greaves

JACOB - Gate

The white van drove slowly down the rocky dirt road leading to the Kipkaren Children’s Home. Kids in matching orange t-shirts were gathered, brimming with excitement.

“It’s Ilula!”

While it is always a joy to have visitors from the Ilula site, the crowd was anxiously waiting for the other white van — the one carrying Jacob and his house father, Peter Matekwa, after their lengthy absence.

Last week, Jacob and Peter returned home to Kenya from India and were warmly welcomed with songs, dancing, testimonies and a feast. They were surrounded by ELI Kenya staff, kids from the Children’s Home, members of the community, some of Jacob’s classmates and even few of his teachers. It was a colorful celebration and emotional reunion as the crowd of almost 200 gave thanks to God for Jacob’s health.

In early 2012, Jacob started to develop severe anemia and was admitted to a local hospital in Eldoret. Peter still remembers taking Jacob to the hospital for a check-up and going out to lunch afterward when Jacob’s nose started to bleed uncontrollably. He had to be readmitted. Then began a string of hospital visits, tests and blood transfusions that continued for the next few years.

Jacob was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a condition in which the bone marrow does not make enough new blood cells. Continuing with blood transfusions was not a permanent option and put him at risk of bleeding and infection. His chances at long-term survival without a bone marrow transplant were not good.

JACOB - Hall

Through a joint effort between Empowering Lives International and Living Room International, it was determined that Jacob needed to go to India for a bone marrow transplant. Yet, they still needed to find a donor. Jacob’s siblings were contacted, and his older brother, Calvince, was a match. After not seeing his younger brother for several years and being a 100 percent match, Calvince is considered to be the first miracle God worked in this journey.

Fundraising efforts in the U.S. and Kenya were launched in February to raise the $55,000 needed for the trip and medical treatment. In March, a large fundraiser was held in Kipkaren. It was a day that showed the community coming together and uniting around Jacob, Peter and his wife, Zipporrah. The goal of raising $10,000 through the event was surpassed.

A&K Global Health, an international patient advocacy and medical travel company, coordinated and navigated through the logistics of getting the two brothers and Peter to and from India for the procedure. The trio left Kipkaren on April 11. Calvince remained in India for about a month, while Peter and Jacob came home on July 31.

While in India, Peter remained vigilant in staying on top of caring for Calvince and Jacob, especially with Jacob’s weakened immune system. Peter said that he kept busy each day as he prepared proper meals, made sure everything was clean, saw that Jacob took his medications on time and took him to exercise at the guesthouse’s gym as he grew stronger in recovery. Peter also had to keep a close eye on Jacob after the surgery to look out for anything unusual that needed medical attention. It was a lot of work day in and day out, but Peter kept the faith.

“To me, I feel praise to God,” Peter said. “If God had given me this mission to do, to accomplish, then I am happy, because what God had proposed to me to do, I have done it. That is my joy.”

JACOB - Mic

At the welcome celebration, it was clear that God worked a number of miracles as the group reflected on all of the details that needed to be taken care of: organizing logistics across continents, picking the right hospital, raising all of the funds, finding a complete donor match, checking on Calvince’s health to make sure he was eligible to donate his marrow. Miracle after miracle.

Jacob is now a much healthier boy, gaining more strength with each passing day. He said that he does feel the difference between last year and today.

“I feel more courageous because of the health I’ve been given,” Jacob said. “I feel good, and I want to thank God for all the organizations that have helped, like Living Room, Empowering Lives, all the churches, schools and all the well-wishers. I want to thank God because of them. Let God bless all of them and their families and everything they do.”


To see more photos of Jacob and Peter’s welcome celebration, click here.

You can still partner with us in giving a gift of love for Jacob to help cover emergency costs during his stay in India as well as ongoing care (proper nutrition, labs, transport to and from the hospital, medications) while back in Kenya. For more information on how to give, click here.

A Place to Rest

July 9, 2015 by Tori Greaves

Lodge - greeting

Yesterday, Empowering Lives celebrated the opening of our newly renovated lodge at the Ukweli Training and Development Center in Ilula, Kenya. Many ELI Kenya staff and students from Ilula’s Samro Polytechnic school were in attendance, along with Uasin Gishu County Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno as the guest of honor.

Lodge - praying

ELI Kenya board member Reverend Samson Samoei led the group of about 60 people in a word of prayer, blessing the lodge and those who will be utilizing it—such as the estimated 45 brewers coming to Ilula next week for training. After the prayer, Deputy Governor Chemno cut the ribbon to officially open the lodge, which has 12 self-contained rooms.

Lodge - Inside

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by a time of speeches and encouragement to continue the celebration. ELI Kenya board members and staff from Ilula and Kipkaren shared the vision and history of Empowering Lives in Kenya.

ELI Founder and International Director Don Rogers, currently on the ground in Kenya for a visit with this family, took time to highlight the ministries of ELI—including the Children’s Homes, Training Centers and outreaches. He said that the mission of ELI is to bring empowerment to Kenya and “to not just bring ideas, but to integrate ideas with the power of God’s transforming Spirit.”

The group also took a moment to acknowledge one of ELI Kenya’s longest standing staff members, Joel Tomno, the chef at Ukweli. In the words of ELI Kenya Director Samuel Teimuge, “He has not been tired for 18 years!”

Lodge - Joel

Deputy Governor Chemno announced that it was his first time to Ukweli and commented on how he is pleased and impressed to learn more about the ministry of ELI. He spoke of the challenge of addressing illicit brewing and alcoholism in the country and how the government can only do so much. In his words, the government is able to deal with the “hardware” issues, such as passing and enforcing legislation. Chemno remarked that partnership with ministries such as Empowering Lives was crucial toward the mission, as they can best address the “software” issues, or issues of the heart.

“If people team up as residents of this country, we will be able to wipe out illicit brewing,” Chemno said. He continued, “Each day, somewhere in Uasin Gishu, we arrest up to 50 people who are involved in illicit brewing (…) but that’s the hardware. But the hearts of the people may not change. That’s why we are saying we need to do both.”

We look forward to receiving those who will be coming to Ukweli to pursue knowledge that will improve their lives and learn more about the God who loves and cares about them. We pray that this lodge would be a place of rest for them so that they may be able to come to training and say, “Twende kazi!” or “Let’s work!”

Lodge - group

Caring for the Fatherless

June 24, 2015 by Tori Greaves

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Hello,

My name is Ezekiel Moiben, and I am a house father at Empowering Lives International’s Kipkaren Children’s Home. I am married to Noelah, and we are raising 29 boys and girls together.

In Kenya, most people work as laborers and earn less than a dollar in a day. That creates a high level of poverty, which makes it hard for most families to raise up kids who were made orphans by HIV and AIDS. A common cause of deaths in Kenya include cancer, among others.

ELI has been of great help to more than 250 boys and girls in their Children’s Home, providing both spiritual and physical needs like medical care, education, food, shelter and clothing. Guiding and counseling is part of the emotional support ELI is doing for the orphans through its staff and professional counselors.

This empowerment is aimed at transforming these kids to be agents of change in their families, so that they can preach the Gospel and, at the same time, educate their siblings after acquiring jobs with the education and empowerment they got through ELI.

Poverty has been at the high levels in Kenya, especially to the orphans whose parents died from diseases. These kids had no hope when they first arrived at the home. A good number of them were malnourished, sickly and didn’t know about the love of God. As I write this letter, all of our kids can testify that Jesus is their savior. Physically, they are strong boys and girls, and they are very appreciative of what ELI has done and is continuing to do in their lives.

One of the boys in my family, Boniface Kibungei, was so sick-looking and malnourished when he first arrived. Currently, he is a great athlete in the region, representing his school and entire community whenever there is competition in the region. We thank God every time we see him as a strong boy after the ELI empowerment bears fruits of this kind.

I must say that it has been of great blessing serving God through ELI as a house parent, seeing these young kids being transformed and being empowered. They can serve God without fear or hindrance. It has given me an opportunity to serve God more and helped me grow in spirit seeing God lifting these kids from nothing to somewhere.

Lastly, friends, let us join hands in serving God in His amazing task of caring for orphans, as we see that this is God’s heart.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27 (NIV)


It is estimated that there are between 1 to 2 million orphaned children in Kenya. You can partner with Empowering Lives to care for vulnerable children and help to provide physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. To learn more about becoming an ELI child sponsor, click here.

Rogers Family Heading to Africa

June 14, 2015 by Don Rogers

Empowering Lives Founder and International Director Don Rogers and his family are heading to East Africa during June and July. Your prayers are appreciated as they travel around, visiting staff and ELI sites in Kenya and Tanzania.

You can follow along on their journey by visiting their personal family blog, Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Bringing Change to the Kerio Valley

June 13, 2015 by Tori Greaves

Chep - booths

Last week, Empowering Lives International participated in an agricultural fair in the Kerio Valley, Kenya. The event featured both nonprofit and government organizations—such as USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture—who have invested in the communities in the valley. Approximately 300 to 400 people (including students, community-based groups and farmer-based organizations) attended the event, which featured trainings, demonstrations, speakers and booths.

The event covered topics ranging from food security, environmental awareness and income generation—all of which are especially relevant for the Kerio Valley, where residents struggle with fruit crop loss, soil erosion, alcoholism and illicit brewing for income. It also served to encourage people to be lifelong learners and to implement best practices at their own farms.

Chep - Teimuge

ELI staff were on hand to share the vision of Empowering Lives and about current projects and ministries such as vetiver propagation, ELITE grain storage bags, life skills training and rehabilitation of alcoholics and brewers. One reformed alcoholic who went through ELI’s Kenya Anti-Alcohol program several years ago, Samuel, was also in attendance and shared his testimony of recovery.

Attendees were encouraged to see what efforts were being taken to offer help and transformation to the Kerio Valley. Empowering Lives has been highly active in this region of Kenya, facilitating the first steps for many people toward a life of self-sustainability and dignity through our outreaches and trainings.

Along the way, partnerships have been forged with other organizations and with the Kenyan government. A number of these connections have been made through ELI’s income generating activities with the sales and distribution of ELITE bags.

The bags garnered excitement for being a chemical-free solution to long-term grain storage. Many bags were sold at the event, while people also expressed intent to purchase later this year during harvest time and asked where they could purchase them locally. With a demo bag of clean maize from October 2014, attendees were able to see the value of storing their grains in ELITE bags—not only for healthier food for their own families, but also for saving to sell later at higher prices to earn more income.

The event provided a prime opportunity to create awareness about the ELITE bags, the uses for vetiver (soil erosion prevention, grass thatching, essential oils and feed for animals) and to communicate the work of ELI. We are excited to see what doors will open for our ministry in the Kerio Valley in the future.

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.

The Impact of Clean Water

May 18, 2015 by Tori Greaves

By Boaz Masanja, Project Manager and Yakobo Sembo, ELI Tanzania Director

Mwasamba B

The need for water in Mwasamba B increased when the area was seriously hit by drought. Animals were getting thinner, and plants would wilt. People would go without washing due to water scarcity, and they suffered terribly from lack of proper hygiene in many homes around the area. In some places, there were incidences of scabies because of the lack of washing water, and people would get lice due to dirtiness of not washing clothes.

Drastic measures were needed to overcome the degree of drought in the area by trying to get help from any corner.

The community of Mwasamba B

Initially, the community was excited and had high expectations of getting water at deep depth. They expected that when we hit water, it would come out in large quantity and shoot high out of the hole. When this did not happen, we saw the response and attitude of the community coming down. Even when we found good signs of water at 80 feet, the community wanted us to drill deeper. These kind of queries made us to be humble in replying and to ask them to be tolerant until the last process was over to obtain water.

The community invested a lot in this project and deserve much credit for the completion of the borehole. They contributed 2,900,000 TSH (about $1,455) and manpower such as bringing stones, sand, aggregates, molam (hard-packed clay), water and labor to build the base for the hand pump. The great need of water at Mwasamba B made the entire community to make a lot of sacrifices. A single person could volunteer to sell some chickens, goats, sheep and cows to ensure that one is getting what the community had agreed to contribute so as to make water available in that particular community.

Bridge

Meeting challenges

While on the way to the drill site, we got stuck several times on the way. The first time we got stuck was on a bridge, where part of the bridge was washed away by the heavy rain. Also, other roads were not easily passable to a similar extent.

We sometimes were obliged to postpone some of our activities at the site as we couldn’t go ahead with the job while it was raining. Even at the closure of our job, we encountered getting stuck with our vehicle such that the community had to volunteer to assist pulling our vehicle to get out of the mud. The process took us almost two or more hours. We thank God that none of us got injured and our team member Mr. Andrew Belko had been driving in a difficult situation. This was an ongoing activity for the five days until the well was complete.

The team work spirit encouraged everyone to work tirelessly, cooperatively and collectively. As well, the humbleness of the entire team was the choice to combat and address all challenges we encountered throughout the period of drilling a borehole at Mwasamba B.

M B well

Clean water

The borehole having clean water to the community means saving lives, and therefore without clean and safe water, the entire community is in trouble. Much of them can’t afford to boil water as they are unable to house resources for buying firewood or kerosene.

In the beginning, the community had a terrible kind of living as water could be fetched from only one borehole drilled a long time agothe one and only borehole for more than 2,500 people. The substitute for this borehole is to wait for those who would go about eight kilometers away to Lake Victoria and bring water in jerrycans of 20 liters sold at 400-500 TSH ($0.20-0.25) each, and yet still it is not clean water. Also, it is only few who can afford to buy water from those selling water. And these water business people fetch water using animal carts, so the hygiene of water is doubtful.

We got informed by one of the village leaders that one would go for queuing overnight at the oldest borehole, and he would hardly get 20 liters only simply because there was rationing. Other people would get nothing apart from queuing overnight. In comparison, after the new borehole, people would get more time for work, and people would get more resources as they will not be buying water anymore.

In some places where families are big, the burden went to an extent of forbidding students from going to school because the family would remain without water. Students will now be going to school more often. This means availability of water in Mwasamba B would bring changes socially, economically and even culturally as people were often upset on the water problem. Addressing the challenge is a positive approach towards community development.

The process of making sure the water is safe is guaranteed by the government water department by examining quality water control in the laboratory. We brought a water sample, and they are in the process of testing the water from Mwasamba B. However, the government water engineer said there’s a 95 percent chance the water is safe for consumption after seeing the sample and to tell the community to start using the water for drinking.

It is not easy to tell how often people get sick, but for sure, people get sick due to dirty consumption of water in the area. It is a distance to reach the clinic about five to 10 kilometers away. One may reach the clinic and find no medication or drugs there.

Yakobo and Boaz

Bringing the Gospel

For sure, this project has promoted the community on a spiritual level, as it is not easy to preach the Gospel to a thirsty person. But it is somehow possible to a community person to listen to you knowing exactly you played a role to get them access to clean water at their respective residence. This is even a testimony that when able to meet their physical need, you can satisfy them spiritually. Your preaching will bring hope; likewise, you addressed the water problem. The same faith they gained from the water will convince them to believe you spiritually with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

 

To read about the previous borehole drilling project in Tanzania, click here.

Onward and Upward

March 31, 2015 by Tori Greaves

CH celebration

The results for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams—which are taken at the end of secondary (high) school and determine eligibility for various higher education institutions—were recently released. Many of our Children’s Home graduates received high marks, and for that, we are thankful. Now, these graduates will wait to see what programs they will be accepted into at different colleges, universities and other schools.

Here’s what three of our graduates from the Ilula Children’s Home had to say after finding out their results.


“Hi!! I hope you are doing well just as I am. The national exams were officially released recently, and for sure, God did great. It had been a long journey of four years going through ups and downs in high school, but at last, we sat for the national exams. For a while, it was a relief after (the) hard struggle of learning. Days went by, and soon it was nearing the date set for the release of the results. Fear and thoughts of doubt encompassed me, knowing that many people were expecting good performance from me. I prayed that my hard work may be rewarded. I was so happy when I got the results and of all people and beings, I thanked God. So far life in the village is good and soon I will be studying computer. Thank you so much for your support and prayers.”
– Victor

“I really want to thank God for the favor He granted me. Concerning my results of the national exams, I enrolled for the year 2014. I got an A of 83 points, and I was so impressed and happy. I now will be able to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the university level. My results I attribute to teachers, parents, friends and classmates. I would not make it alone without them. They encouraged me (and) gave me the motivation to move on, and that is why here I am today. Also, the sponsors from Empowering Lives International made this possible regarding that my welfare was catered for, this ranging from fees to personal necessities.
– Beatrice

“I thank God for (how) far He has brought (me). It has taken his hand and his unfailing love for me. The grade I got I thank him (for), because actually whatever he has started he will carry to end. I never expected to score that, but all in all, God is great and wonderful. (I) am happy. At least I have a bright future. That day was my happiest day since cause it was just the prayers God was answering. (I) am still thinking and praying hard (that) I get a course related to the passion I have. I have a dream of pursuing either Radiography or Physiotherapy. Thank you so much, ELI, for all the support and everything you have done. May God bless you and continue being with you and expand everything you are doing.
– Mercy


Thank you for being a part of the lives of these children through your partnership with Empowering Lives International. You help make this possible!

Meet Alex

March 4, 2015 by Tori Greaves

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Alex is a leader who believes in helping others. He says that it’s his main objective in life—to help others in the way that he has been helped.

He first came to the Ilula Children’s Home in 2004. Now, more than 10 years later, Alex is in Form 4 (Grade 12) and has grown into a mature young man. In 2013, he was named “All Round Student” at his school, recognizing his involvement and achievements in sports and academics. Last year, he was number 5 out of 161 students in his class for academic ranking and had also served as Games (Sports) Captain previously.

Prior to coming to the Children’s Home, Alex and his three siblings were living with his widowed grandmother. He, his two sisters and brother lost their mother to heart disease shortly after the youngest sibling was born. Before their mother died, she struggled to make ends meet by illicitly brewing alcohol to provide for the family. Alex never knew his father and recalls moving around a lot, with his mother ill much of the time. Still, as a child, he kept the faith that someday, things would get better.

Today, Alex is an accomplished student in his last year of secondary (high) school. While he enjoys studying math and science, he is still unsure what he would like to pursue as a career. Whatever it is, he wants to be able to return to his home community and give back.

Perhaps one of the most valuable things Alex has learned over the years has been leadership skills and how to use those skills to lift up those around him. He desires for others to realize their own potential and what they have to contribute. He says that he wants others to appreciate who they are and do good. To him, this would be a way of showing gratitude to God.

“You can lead without a title,” Alex said. “Do your best in what you know is true and what you know it right.”


Thank you for your faithful support of children like Alex through your partnership with Empowering Lives International! There are still more opportunities to come alongside our Children’s Home ministries. Click here to learn more about our current sponsorship needs.

NEW! Video for Jacob

February 19, 2015 by Diana Coombs

 

Jacob Vimeo

Watch our video featuring Jacob and spread the love!

 

Finding a Way Out

February 17, 2015 by Tori Greaves

Feb brewer 02

William didn’t even make enough money from illicitly brewing alcohol to buy food. He needed income, but he didn’t know what else to do.

At a community meeting, his community’s leaders asked the group who among them was brewing. William raised his hand. He wanted a way out. When William asked his community’s chief for help, he found out about Empowering Lives International’s training for brewers.

William, along with 31 other men and women from the Kerio Valley, went through a week of training in life skills (such as kitchen gardening and bread making) and graduated last Friday. He says that over the course of the week, he was filled with the Word of God, and now he’s a changed man. He took time at the concluding ceremony to ask for forgiveness of the government and community leadership on behalf of the whole group.

He plans to reconnect with a local church and use what he learned at the training to use alternative methods for earning income. He urged those in the room to support one another after they’ve all returned to their homes.

“As we start off, let’s team up together.”

“We will not be defeated”

February 9, 2015 by Tori Greaves

Well 04

From ELI staff Andrew Belko:

Mwabasabi village is one of the 26 villages in Busega district of the Simiyu region in Tanzania. The village is about 10 kilometers (about six miles) south of Lake Victoria. It covers an area of 20 square kilometers (about 12.4 square miles), and according to a 2012 census, the village has a total population of about 2,626 people.

There are two primary schools in the village, which are both government schools. There is no health center in the village. A mother of five shared, “We always pray to God we do not get sick. When you get sick, we have to go to Nyashimo hospital,” which is about 21 kilometers from the village. Clean drinking water is a huge step forward in preventing those sicknesses.

Only around 12 percent of the population is served with clean and safe water. The village had only one hand dug well that would go dry half the year. John Ng’indi, the Village Executive Official, said, “Our children now are not going to school because of water. Diarrhea and skin infections now (are) common in this village because of water.”

Well 01

Mwabasabi was selected to receive a borehole based on their need for clean water and their ability to contribute funding. ELI worked with the community’s water committee to select the best location for the borehole. The location is accessible to many in the community, including a primary school with about 600 students that’s located less than two kilometers away.

Throughout the drilling project, the team encountered several difficulties. The first hole was drilled to 45 feet before reaching impenetrable rock formations. The hole was dry. A second hole was drilled about 200 feet away to a similar depth of 43 feet before reaching hard rock again. Fortunately, we struck an aquifer this time and received plenty of water. Unfortunately, a pipe snapped while drilling the final few feet, leaving 15 feet of drill pipe and a drill bit stranded in the hole. Numerous attempts to recover the lost equipment were unsuccessful.

Finally, a third hole was drilled a few feet away to 45 feet with no problems. A sturdy Afridev hand-pump capable of five gallons per minute was installed. Even after pumping for hours on end, the water kept coming. The water was clean and potable.

What impressed the ELI staff most was the community’s constant participation and optimism. Even after two unsuccessful holes and nearly two weeks of work, the community kept bringing everything needed to continue, whether it was water, sand, gravel, food, etc. Men, women and children would carry hundreds of gallons of water needed each day to drill. The project was nicknamed Hatushindwi, which translates to “We will not be defeated.” They truly valued the importance of this clean water and took real ownership of it.

Well 02

Back to School

January 20, 2015 by Tori Greaves

IL back to school

It’s January, which means children all over Kenya have now returned to their schools. Over the past few weeks, the kids at our Ilula and Kipkaren Children’s Homes have been making their way back to the classroom.

Our staff worked hard at seeing that our kids—over 200 of them in total—were well prepared to go, making sure registration was complete, school fees were paid and supplies were purchased.

In the coming few weeks, our Class 8 graduates—11 from Ilula and 16 from Kipkaren—will be receiving their acceptance letters for secondary schools (high schools). We invite you to join us in praise of all that God has done in their lives so far and to pray over this next chapter. Please pray also for our Children’s Home staff as they steward and advocate for our kids to be admitted into good secondary schools.

Last week, our 2014 secondary school graduates (10 from Ilula and six from Kipkaren) began the Business Start-up Training, a three-week course that introduces students to the basic principles of operating a small business. It also features research and field practicals out in the students’ communities. The BST is a fascinating and interactive course, helping students to think critically and creatively about how to be entrepreneurs.

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Gladys Cherono of the Kipkaren Children’s Home had this to say about the training:

The business course is really helping us in shaping and internalizing the ideas and skills that we learn. It has also helped us in making good use of the time that we have at home. I am really happy and delighted in being in such a business class, and also, we learn more about the experiences that our trainers have gone through, and it enables us to develop a dynamic mindset about the expectations and experiences in business.”

We at Empowering Lives want to thank you for your support, encouragement and faithfulness over the years as we help to care for and raise these children into men and women of bold faith. The task is great, and we could not do this without friends like you alongside us.

Photo of the Day

January 14, 2015 by Angela Vincent

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A warm welcome at our school in the Keredi slum in Bukavu, DRC. (photo: Micah Albert)

ALTERNATIVE GIFT OPPORTUNITY: The Gift of TRAINING

December 12, 2014 by Don Rogers

There are times that we hope to give so that another can be blessed.

GIVE A GIFT THIS CHRISTMAS to your family or friend that will honor them and also make an impact in the lives of people in need. Make a donation and download a gift card that you can present to your friend or family member letting them know that in their honor, a needy family in Africa has received the gift of training!

Right now, hundreds of women are hoping to be able to attend a life-changing training at the Ilula Training Center near Eldoret, Kenya. These are women who are currently brewing and selling alcohol because they lack skills in an alternative business and the courage to make the change.

THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON, YOU CAN HELP make a difference for women and men who desire these skills but lack the resources to pay for the full week of training. Give a gift this Christmas to your family or friend that will honor them and make an impact in the lives of people in need.

Learn more and take action. Discover more about the ALTERNATIVE GIFT HERE.

Support ELI through AmazonSmile

November 17, 2014 by Tori Greaves

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You can now support Empowering Lives International by shopping with AmazonSmile. The AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5 percent of the purchase price of eligible AmazonSmile items, and there’s no cap on how much they will donate. It’s a simple, convenient and comes at no extra cost to you.

With the holidays upon us, we’d like to encourage you to share this link with your friends and family so that they may be able to take care of their Christmas shopping while supporting ELI’s work in Africa!

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!

Join us for the Orange County 5K!

October 24, 2014 by Angela Vincent

Join us on November 22nd for the Orange County 5k

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Join us on November 22nd, in a synchronized video-linked footrace between Orange County, CA, USA and Eldoret, Kenya. When you run or walk, you are helping to change the course of suffering lives! Your participation and support will bring life changing training and knowledge to lives in need of hand-up (and not a hand-out).

Visit our fundraising page to register, donate, and see our progress!

Into the Slums: Reflections from Colleen Costigan

October 24, 2014 by Tori Greaves

Kampi Mawe

The kids at the ELI Children’s Home in Kipkaren, Kenya never miss a meal. They have a roof over their head and nice mattresses to sleep on. They are never sent home from school due to lack of money for tuition. Their feet are jigger-free. They have running water. They have electricity.

Thank God.

After eight years in the home, the kids are used to having their basic needs met.

And after 32 years in America and one in Kenya, so am I.

About 20 minutes down the road from the Children’s Home, there is a slum community I have grown to love called Kampi Mawe. The kids don’t always have food on their plates. Some live on the streets, others in dilapidated shanty houses. Kids are sent home from school because of money. Some suffer from jigger-infested feet. There is no running water. There is no electricity.

This past year while living in Kenya, I have spent time in both places. I often come back from Kampi Mawe and share stories at the Children’s Home about the challenges surrounding poverty. I show pictures of jiggers, and the kids wince in disbelief. We have conversations surrounding gratitude and are reminded of how much God has provided at the Children’s Home. We spend time in the nightly devotions praying for the people of Kampi Mawe and asking God what we can do to help those in need.

I had been hoping and praying these two worlds would come together.

Then it happened. Eight high school kids from the Children’s Home put together a program for the kids at a church in Kampi Mawe during their month off in August. They played games with the kids, sang a few songs and taught the kids about courage through the story of David and Goliath.

Outreach

Brian Kibet, a high school boy who went to Kampi Mawe, shared his experience with the Children’s Home at one of the nightly devotions. “We should be praying for them,” he encouraged his brothers and sisters. “When God blesses us, we tend to forget that other people elsewhere are suffering.”

Kampi Mawe is just a small representation of the 46 percent of people in Kenya who are living below the poverty line. Please be praying that God develops leaders in the Children’s Home who fight for justice, tackle poverty and become change agents for the nation of Kenya.

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