February 9, 2017 by Diana Coombs
Bringing clean water to Tanzania is transforming lives!
Where is Empowering Lives drilling wells, and why that area?
Empowering Lives has been drilling water wells in the dry, rural areas of the Mara region of Northern Tanzania for 3 years. Water is very difficult to access in this part of the country. The ground is too rocky and the water too deep for local hand dug wells or small machine drilling, so many existing shallow wells have gone dry in this year’s drought. Most communities rely on existing water sources that are far from their homes. These sources contain bacteria and are parasite-ridden. Households spend up to 25% of each day fetching water.
There are a lot of organizations drilling wells…What makes the ELI well drilling program different?
One of our core values is giving a hand-up, not a hand-out, and so we partner with communities to raise the $7,000 needed to drill a deep well. People in the community are mobilized to work together and unite to contribute towards the cost of the well. Some will sell a chicken, some a goat, and others contribute from the $1-$2 they make per day. In the end, the community will raise about $1,000, which will in part be used to purchase a heavy-duty hand pump for the well. This encourages the community to take ownership and pride in their new water source and is a big step towards future development. Empowering Lives provides for the drilling rig and the drilling team, and covers the remaining cost of the well. Water drilling has opened up doors for ELI to cultivate meaningful relationships with people and families who live in difficult, rural areas
How can I get involved in the fight against the water crisis in Tanzania?
We have a 2017 goal of drilling 20 wells in partnership with communities! Open up another door for the Gospel message by fully sponsoring a well for $6000, or by making a donation of any amount that will be pooled together with others towards a water well. Learn more about drilling wells in Tanzania.
Watch this brief video to see what collecting water is like without a well, and to see the well drilling process in action:
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
September 29, 2016 by Angela Vincent
You’ve heard the story of the man and the fish: you can either give him food or teach him how to catch it. One is a temporary fix. The other has long-lasting effects. A short walk from one of our Children’s Homes we have a farm. On this 20-acre piece of land, we have a three-acre banana plantation, a five-acre timber forest, six acres of grazing for cattle and sheep, an acre of fishponds, and another five acres of food production. From this farm, not only will we be able to source food to the Children’s Home, but we will also generate profits to help locally sustain the ministry efforts.
The farm itself is already acting an agri-business model for the region. Farmers visit to learn what we are doing and how we have both designed and strategized the farm. The local community itself is greatly benefiting from our efforts as villagers are observing and slowly implementing our techniques and approaches to diversified production and income schedules. The 14 full time workers are not only learning new skills and gaining valuable experience, but our weekly Bible studies and discipleship meetings are equipping them with the living Gospel that will impact and bless their families.
The story of two of these workers is particularly encouraging. Before joining us, they spent their days looking for local and unskilled labor, earning just enough to get drunk off cheap malt liquor every evening. They were a frustration to their families and a black eye to the community. We invited them to work at the farm as casual day laborers knowing they would work hard to make their earnings.
In the beginning, they continued to drink. As much as we did not like it, it never affected their job performance. But after three to four months of working every day, listening to the weekly Bible studies and participating in discipleship meetings, their parents visited the farm. They asked our manager, Isaac, what we were doing to their boys. They described the transformation they have seen—instead of drinking and creating problems, the boys wake up early, go to work, return home in the evenings, take showers, eat dinner, and go to bed. They are too tired for anything else, even drinking. In fact, each week they leave money on the table to assist with school fees for their younger siblings.
These young men are becoming upstanding family and community members. And just like the man with the fish, we have equipped these young men with knowledge, skills, and a deeper application of the Word of God, creating long lasting effects.
It’s through your support and partnership that communities and homes are experiencing these transformations. Thank you for working alongside us as we seek to empower lives!
Director of International Implementation
Empowering Lives International
August 4, 2016 by Angela Vincent
I’d like for you to meet Nixon Kiprotich. Nixon is a father at the Ilula Children’s Home in Kenya, where I interned for three weeks this past summer—helping the kids with their daily chores and homework, leading devotions, and lots of playing. Not only did I learn about how the Children’s Home functions, but I was able to build lifelong relationships. And Nixon was one of those.
One morning over chai, he shared with me his humble upbringing and how it has brought him to where he is today.
Nixon was born and raised in the village of Turuturu, in the Kerio Valley. His parents, Joseph and Mary, never worked or went to school growing up. Their family grew maize (corn) and other vegetables for food. Nixon was the eldest of ten siblings, and later eighteen, after his father remarried. Growing up, his family had a strong faith and were actively involved in the church.
Nixon went to school for the very first time when he was eight years old. At times, he would stay home to help his family, but eventually he and his siblings attended school so they could receive one meal a day and some milk. Nixon and his siblings each had one outfit and never owned a pair of shoes until they went to high school.
During high school, Nixon was shaped into a strong and independent man, understanding the importance of hard work and a strong faith in God. After high school, Nixon went to work for a Christian radio and TV station to help support his family. This is where he met his beautiful wife Zipporah. Twenty years later, Nixon made the decision to go back to college to be an example for his children. He is now studying Child Development and Social Work and one day dreams of being called “Dr. Nixon”. In 2007, Nixon and Zipporah became parents at the Ilula Children’s Home.
Even amongst great adversity and poverty, Nixon never lost hope. Nixon and Zipporah continue to emphasize to their children that God has amazing plans for them and they are alive for a purpose. It is from Nixon’s past that he has an even greater hope for these children. “I thank God for ELI because now I can help all the children because of the past I had”.
You might not know Nixon personally like I do. But you are a part of his story too. Your support and partnership help provide him and all of the children at the Homes with the hope to push through adversity, give God their pasts, and even more, their futures. Thank you for providing hope to hundreds of children!
Summer Intern, Ilula Children’s Home
Empowering Lives International
June 1, 2015 by Diana Coombs
By Don Rogers, Founder and International Director
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.
January 30, 2014 by Diana Coombs
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.
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!
Who were the four hundred plus people? (more…)
November 14, 2013 by Diana Coombs
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?”
“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…)
November 7, 2013 by Diana Coombs
By Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer
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.
October 10, 2013 by Diana Coombs
By, Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer
Meet Mercy Chelimo
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…)
October 2, 2013 by Diana Coombs
By Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer
Meet Stellah Jepchirchir.
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…)
September 26, 2013 by Diana Coombs
By Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer
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?
You mean both of their parents are dead?
You mean they were left abandoned and unattended and didn’t have anyone to take care of them?
I see the look on your face, as you try to process what that means. (more…)
September 19, 2013 by Diana Coombs
Our team of 8 boarded onto the small plane and took up every seat available to fly into South Sudan. We packed lightly as the plane could only hold a limited amount of weight. As the plane sped down the runway, I had no idea what was ahead of us. I was warned that it would be hot, but, I didn’t realize there would be no reprieve from the hot sun. As we flew over the land, I saw that it was flat, dry and held very few trees and plants. As the time went by and the more I looked out the window, I realized we were far from any comforts of modern civilization and in the middle of “nowhere”. (more…)
September 5, 2013 by Diana Coombs
Bukavu is a city in the Southern Kivu province in D.R. Congo (DRC). It shares a border with Rwanda and has been plagued by war for many years; a war caused by various groups trying to gain power, territory and protect its own interests. To this day there is still instability within the country and tensions run high. Within Bukavu, there are several zones; one of those zones is Keredi, and that is where ELI’s school is located. (more…)
June 21, 2013 by Diana Coombs
Our Ilula Children’s Home director, Laban, was phoned by another local Children’s Home in Kitale. They wanted to visit our Children’s Home and organize a debate with some of the children from each home. The topic to be debated would be, “Secondary School (High School) is the only way to success”. (more…)
June 19, 2013 by Diana Coombs
Written by Tori Greaves, Intern
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25-26
I cannot count the number of times I have heard these verses, either in a sermon, as a word of encouragement, or as a challenge. But because of the way we live in America, it is a hard concept to grasp. We are always saving and planning. And thanks to things like retirement funds and insurance, we may never have to wonder how we will eat or where we will live; let alone what will we eat tomorrow. Instead, we have to be creative when applying this passage to our own lives, asking ourselves questions like, “Will I still have this job next year?”, “Should I go back to school?”, or “Will I be able to provide the right opportunities for my children?” But whatever the question, the command is still the same: trust in the Lord, for He is the one who provides and sustains. But to actually build up that trust within our hearts, perhaps we could use some help from those to whom God’s sustaining power has been made unmistakably clear.
A few weeks ago at the Ilula Children’s Home, the kitchen noticed that they were running low on corn flour which they use to make ugali—a staple food for all Kenyans. Because of the rising costs of school fees and food in Kenya, ELI staff has worked hard to save wherever possible to make ends meet financially. Since corn flour is universal, and also a huge business for companies here, it is a simple and acceptable way for fellow Kenyans to give to one another. For this reason, the Children’s Home solicits donations from churches and local businesses, allowing them to support the Children’s Homes and be part of what ELI is doing. This, alongside other initiatives like bread-making and tree-planting, are all part of an overall plan to help the Children’s Home become self-sustainable.
This time, however, the donations of corn flour had run out. (more…)
May 23, 2013 by admin
Exploring the streets of Juba, South Sudan. (photo: Micah Albert)
April 29, 2013 by Diana Coombs
How sweet it is to receive a letter from a friend! All 200+ of our children have received letters from their sponsors and friends and they are so excited to write back. Thank you to everyone who wrote to the children for Write to Your Child Month!
All the children receiving letters
April 18, 2013 by Diana Coombs
The month of April brings all the children home from boarding school and reunites the Children’s Home. Across the nation, Kenya school systems have breaks during the months of April, August and December. This month, the children are enjoying being all together again. They are spending their time playing, tending to the gardens and baking bread. Please pray for them and our house parents and staff as they spend the month together before all the children return to school in May.
April 17, 2013 by Diana Coombs
Linus (security), Benja (security), Reuben (kitchen), Abraham (kitchen), Aaron (herdsman) and Mr. & Mrs. Kemei (house parents) enjoy their time away.
A little time away can refresh and strengthen a person. This is what our house parents and Kipkaren Children’s Home staff experienced when they took a day trip to the Uganda border where they were able to spend time together as a team, enjoy a new environment, browse the local shops and take time to pray. The ladies enjoyed their time as they found nice clothes, handbags and shoes at affordable prices. (more…)