January 27, 2017 by Diana Coombs
Meet the Women of Change.
Women of Change is network of women who are committed to supporting the movement of change happening among brewers in East Africa. Val Roark is the coordinator of Women of Change, and she shares with us today about the importance of community on both sides of the ocean.
How do you feel community is important to Women of Change?
Community is important because it gives us emotional support and accountability. If you want to really champion a cause and champion what God is doing in other places, having someone with you who is excited alongside you is so encouraging.
How do you feel community is important to the brewers?
The groups there meet sometimes weekly, sometimes once a month. They do merry-go-round or table banking together so they’re not only supporting each other socially, spiritually and emotionally, but also supporting each other financially to some degree. Because they come from a village together and are trained at ELI, they go back home with that support system. And that support is paramount to their success; I saw it for myself over and over again.
Do you feel the Women of Change community in the US is connected to the communities of former brewers in Kenya?
That is what I want to see happen. We can embrace the change they are making and recognize and look at ourselves and think how does that impact me personally. What does God want to change in my life?
Also they (the brewers) are realizing we are all in God’s world and His kingdom, and they have these friends who are sisters of change who are far away but care about them. For the women in Africa to feel this connection is huge. I saw on their faces what it meant to them, even just to think we are praying for them. And then for them to say we’ll pray for you…when I see the faith they have, I want people like that praying for me!
Interested in getting involved with Women of Change? Contact Val at firstname.lastname@example.org about joining a chapter or starting your own chapter in your area.
Interview with Val Roark by Sarah Ponce
Empowering Lives International
October 15, 2016 by Angela Vincent
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…” Isaiah 58:6-7
Have you ever wondered why we are compelled to help the poor? And why Empowering Lives specifically focuses on empowering the poor in Africa?
The answer is simple: because we are made in God’s image. An intense longing to satisfy the needs of the poor is one of the most obvious characteristics of God that we see throughout the Bible. Isaiah 58:6-7 is a wonderful reminder of how passionately God desires our hearts to come to the aid of those who need it.
We are emulating God’s love when we partner together to empower and equip the poor.
What is even more astounding, is that in all of God’s holiness and glory, He intimately relates to those who are outcast, humiliated, abused, and oppressed. He humbles Himself, beyond our comprehension, in order to draw near to the poor. Jesus’ teachings make it clear that a heart that actually loves God will embrace and provide for the poor, crippled, lame, blind, widowed, orphaned, and outcast.
After one week of being on the ground in Kenya, I have been confronted with hundreds of lives that have been positively impacted because of your heart for God; for your willingness to sacrifice—financially, physically, and spiritually—to offer a means of hope, restoration, and empowerment. And in turn, want to do the same themselves.
These people are becoming catalysts for exponential change. Tom, a recovering alcoholic from our AA program, has a new vision to protect children in his village from alcoholism through sports programs. A girl from South Sudan, who has experienced loss and war at a young age, is spiritually counseling fellow high school students. A former brewer, is boldly confronting her neighbors about the negative influences of alcohol within their families and their community. And the list goes on…
Jesus tells us that the poor will always be with us. And I realize that I have limited time in life to imitate my heavenly Father by reaching out and serving them. Thank you for your partnership as we seek to serve them together!
Treasurer, Board Member
Empowering Lives International
January 14, 2016 by Diana Coombs
Text and photos by Wilson Chumo, ELI Kenya staff
This is the story of Elkanah, a recovering alcoholic who lives in Kimogoch village. He came to our facility in Kipkaren, Kenya for rehabilitation in the year 2013. He started drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes when he was still in primary school. This is because drinking was so common, and everyone could drink or smoke in that area.
Elkanah is the last-born brother of Ruth, the successful recovering alcoholic among others. When Ruth recovered, Elkanah saw how his sister’s life was changed, and he decided to stop drinking alcohol and said, “I must also go for rehabilitation.”
After the death of his parents, and because he was already an addict, he started selling his piece of land little by little only for drinking. Elkanah got married, and he kept on drinking. His wife passed through many challenges, and she would go back to her parents because life was becoming so hard.
After rehabilitation, Elkanah’s life changed. He stopped selling his land and began working hard to earn a living. He is not doing any business, but he is only going to labor. Because he is now sober, he managed to save the little amount that he was getting, which he used to plant his maize instead of buying alcohol.
This is Elkanah standing in his maize farm. He looks healthy and clean: “This is because there is enough food for the family.”
Alongside standing before their house are Elkanah and his wife. She said, “I am now having peace in my mind and in my heart. I nowadays sleep like a small baby, unlike the other days that my husband was beating me and chasing me outside during the night, and I could stay in the cold overnight. I praise God for the transformation he has done in the life of my husband and that now I and my husband, together with our children are staying in peace.”
These are Elkanah’s three children: two girls and one boy. The children are looking very happy, healthy and clean. This also shows that there is peace in the family and the father is now responsible and caring.
Elkanah has finished baptism class, and he is now waiting for the second group to finish so that they will be baptized together as a group.
The community is very happy for the transformation of Elkanah’s life, and they said they still need more alcoholics to be reached because a lot of alcohol is still being brewed in the area, and young men and women are alcoholics.
Above is Elkanah’s cow. He said he bought the cow immediately when he arrived from rehab. “I did not know that one day I will own a cow,” he said. His wife also said, “We nowadays have milk in our home that we can sell in the morning and our children can drink in the evening.” They thank God for the great things He has done for us within this short period.
June 13, 2015 by Diana Coombs
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.
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.
April 10, 2014 by admin
Graduation ceremonies are always lovely events – a time to celebrate hard work and accomplishment. One recent Sunday afternoon, a graduation ceremony was held for Paul Rono. Paul isn’t your typical fresh faced graduate. In fact, Paul isn’t graduating from school – he is graduating from something much more important. He has spent the last three months learning about himself, his personal issues and the causes of his addictions. You see, Paul is an alcoholic and he graduated from ELI’s Anti-Alcohol program on Sunday.
During the time Paul spent at the Rehabilitation House, he learned to truthfully admit how he handled life’s challenges in the past. He spent hours in reflection, meditating upon the scriptures and praying. He faced the negative choices he’d made and the impact of those choices on himself, his family, friends and co-workers. He came to know God as his Savior, Redeemer and Friend – the One who is capable of carrying the burdens that Paul tried to cover with alcohol in the past.
December 10, 2013 by Diana Coombs
By DiAnne Drachand (ELI Ambassador)
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…)
January 21, 2013 by Don Rogers
KAA Graduation from Empowering Lives on Vimeo.
Empowering Lives integrates several strategic ministries so that a life can be empowered in a holistic way. Alcohol addiction is a significant problem in Kenya and for over ten years ELI has been reaching out to people and providing steps along with a community of care so that addicts can come out from their addiction and reconcile with God and also with their family if they are willing.
This unedited video was taken at the end of 2012 during a special ceremony held at a village church in Kenya when around a dozen people “graduated” from a month long rehabilitation program. The complete video holds the precious reunion of over ten families. This particular short portion of video captures one of the “Graduates” first giving a very brief testimony, and then publicly asking if his family is willing to forgive him for the wrong he has done. The first one to respond is his wife who… well, watch this moving moment and see for yourself. The others who follow are all brothers, sisters, and family members – overwhelmed with joy for the transformation that has taken place in Timons’ life. This is made possible because of the prayers and support of friends of Empowering Lives.
August 9, 2012 by Angela Vincent
Be sure to be on the lookout for our Summer Cultivate magazine. As usual, it’s full of good stories and photos. We’re excited to share it with you!
March 27, 2012 by Angela Vincent
The Empowering Lives Kenya Anti-Alcoholic (KAA) program will be running a campaign in the village Merewet, located in the Moiben Region, on March 30 -31, 2012. The Team has determined that Merewet will be their new target of operation this year, where there is much brewing and alcoholism currently taking place. It is estimated that 25% of this population are alcoholics, ranging in age from 18 to 45.
The village of Merewet is in economic decline, as many in the community are not working or investing their funds into establishing a sustainable living for their families. While there is farming, the yield is extremely poor. Either there is little motivation to learn farming techniques or what money is made is spent feeding their addiction.
The KAA team will set out to help inform this community of the dangers of alcoholism, so that they can make an informed decision on how they want to live the rest of their lives. (more…)
March 21, 2012 by Diana Coombs
Last week, Empowering Lives Kenya attended the 2012 Eldoret National Agriculture Show. This is the premiere agricultural exhibition in the Eldoret area. ELI seized the opportunity to show the community what our organization has to offer. All the staff worked very hard to prepare for the show. We set up and decorated the tent, built eye-catching displays, painted posters, created a drip irrigation demonstration plot, brought in tree seedlings for sale, put together an informative brochure, and produced drip irrigation kits to sell. The star of the show was drip irrigation. Many farmers are thirsty for drip irrigation materials that can water their plants year-round easily and effectively. The Kenya anti-alcohol staff also brought a poster which read “alcohol can destroy your crops” that created a lot of discussion! (more…)
January 4, 2012 by Angela Vincent
Recovered with the help of ELI’s AA program, this family in Kenya now makes bricks instead of alcohol. Learn more about ELI’s AA program. (Photo: Micah Albert)
October 18, 2011 by Angela Vincent
Last year, in a controversial presidential decision, Kenya signed into law a bill that legalizes the traditional home-brewed spirit called changaa.
Changaa, translated literally means “kill me now”, and according to studies, kills more than 100 people annually in Kenya.
But changaa is less of a problem of physical health than it is social, mental, and familial; tearing apart families and destroying local economies due to lack of productivity. The government admits that the country is sitting on a time bomb unless the problem of idle youth is dealt with urgently. ‘When the youth are idle they are easily lured to crime. We have seen the consequence of having idle youth. The post-election violence was mainly driven by idle youth.’ Kenya’s youth are treading a dangerous, increasingly alcohol-fuelled path that is leaving them vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. (more…)
October 10, 2011 by Angela Vincent
In a shocking article entitled How Kenya’s ‘lost generation’ could bring the economy to its knees Kenya’s own newspaper shared that: “According to the findings, more than 70 per cent of young people under the age of 29 are abusing alcohol. Experts are warning that unless a comprehensive program to empower and rehabilitate the country’s affected youth is implemented, poverty levels in many parts of the country are set to increase. Findings by government agencies paint a picture of a lost generation. Learn more here. (photo: Micah Albert)
October 3, 2011 by Angela Vincent
Riding 3 hours one way to Eldoret, Kenya from his village, one of our AA graduates has a new life selling milk at the market instead of wasting days drinking the local brew. Learn more about our AA program and how you can help here. (photo: Micah Albert)