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:
April 6, 2016 by Diana Coombs
It was around this time last year that we sent Jacob, Calvince and Peter to India for a bone marrow transplant. It is with such joyful hearts that we can report to you that Jacob is back in school and doing well! He has regained strength and his smile is as radiant as ever!
Though a man of few words, his smile and strength expresses his gratefulness for the ways he saw you come together to see his healing.
Jacob is not the only child in our Children’s Homes who has received medical attention with the help of donations from friends like you. Recently, Kevin, one of the boys who was welcomed into the Kipkaren Children’s Home in 2014, received surgery to correct his left leg and foot. His left leg was bowed and his foot turned upwards, making it difficult to walk. This February 2016, donations allowed him to receive surgery. He is currently healing and can’t wait to run and play soccer with his friends.
Special gifts have made it possible for us to address the extra medical needs of our orphaned children. And we are seeing God heal them!
We still have other children in need of special medical attention and ongoing medical needs. For example:
David, 10 years old, needs surgery to correct his knees as they face inwards, making it difficult to walk.
Enock, 10 years old, has one leg that protrudes outwards, making one leg shorter than the other and very difficult to walk.
If you would like to donate a one-time or monthly gift towards special medical needs of our kids:
- CLICK HERE to be directed to our online giving page
- Under “Gift Information” choose “Orphans and Vulnerable Children”
- From the drop down, select “Help vulnerable children”
- In the “Comments” section, type in “Child Healthcare”
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.
May 18, 2015 by Diana Coombs
By Boaz Masanja, Project Manager and Yakobo Sembo, ELI Tanzania Director
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.
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.
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 ago—the 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.
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.
February 9, 2015 by Diana Coombs
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.”
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.
June 13, 2014 by Diana Coombs
In 2012, I did my first jigger outreach with ELI in the slums of Turbo. The poverty I witnessed in that community broke my heart. I believed there had to be something we could do to help those who were suffering, especially with a condition known as jiggers*. I returned to Kenya in 2013 ready and willing to attack the jigger problem in the slums.
I never imagined how complicated the solution would be until I heard a story about shoes and how at one jigger outreach, a group decided to give out shoes after the treatment – which, by the way, I thought was a great idea.
But I heard the shoe giveaway became a bit chaotic.
People came in masses.
Getting the shoes to people who actually needed them was difficult – if not impossible – and the likelihood that people would turn around and sell the free shoes at a cost to turn a profit was high.
Giving shoes to people who are suffering from jiggers should be a good thing, right?
If you asked me two years ago, I would have said yes without hesitation.
But things have changed. I now see things through a different lens. And honestly, sometimes I want my old lenses back. During my first trip to Kenya, I had glasses. They were rose-colored, as in rose-colored idealist glasses: “I can help people living in slums because they are desperate and I have a lot and I have the light of God, so surely there must be something I can do.”
But then I got Lasik.
And everything changed.
I showed up to Kenya this time without the glasses. Literally and figuratively.
I miss the rose-colored glasses. Without them, poverty feels overwhelmingly complicated and sometimes impossible to address.
We did another jigger outreach and decided not to give out shoes. Based on the story I had heard, I thought that was wise.
Until we met Jared.
He lives on the street. He has some mental health problems. He has jiggers all over his feet and his hands and his elbow and who knows where else on his body.
He hadn’t eaten all day, so we bought him a few bananas and a pair of shoes in the market for less than $5.
I found out that within one week, the shoes were gone.
What happened to his shoes?
Is it unusual to try to help someone, only to find out the next day that what you gave them is gone?
I don’t think so.
Would it have been better to never give Jared shoes or have him walk around for a week with something on his feet? Does the fear of enabling mean you don’t address immediate needs because it wouldn’t be sustainable? Or do you let someone get a taste of walking with shoes, even if it’s just for a week?
I am constantly wrestling with these questions. The more I wrestle, the more I realize it’s not about finding the “right or wrong” answer. It’s about seeking God’s wisdom in each situation and making peace with whatever He asks you to do.
Jared is still on my mind and as far as I know, still on the streets.
* A basic description of jiggers can be found on pages 15-17 of this article from the World Health Organization.
December 2, 2013 by Diana Coombs
By, Amy Rogers
Empowering Lives International we have had the blessing and privilege of serving with Michelle Kiprop for the last eight years in ministry. We are grateful for the many ways that God has used Michelle to bring hope and healing to so many in Kenya. In October, Michelle, along with her husband William and son Ryan launched a new ministry called Hope Matters. Michelle will continue to fulfill her calling and passion to bring comprehensive healthcare to needy communities throughout Kenya. We are grateful to the Kiprop family and all that they have contributed to the ministry of Empowering Lives over the last eight years. We pray God’s abundant blessing on their family and new ministry. We look forward to all that God will do through the work and ministry of Hope Matters in the years to come.
November 12, 2013 by Diana Coombs
On Sunday, November 17, North Hills Community Church is hosting a blood drive through Blood for Missions. This blood drive will benefit ELI’s ministries because for every pint donated, $20 will be given to sponsor a child for 2 months in ELI’s South Sudan School! For more details, visit northhills.us or call 909-945-5440.
Date: Sunday, November 17
Time: show up anytime between 10 am – 2 pm
Place: 10601 Church St., Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
*To donate, you must be 17 years old (16 if a parent is present), healthy, have no tattoos in the past year or have traveled to any malaria-risk areas in the past year.
August 21, 2012 by admin
Patients line up outside waiting their turn for chigger treatment
In recent months I’ve been hearing stories about a slum about twenty minutes from Kipkaren where people are struggling with major health problems. We decided that we needed to learn more, and in July launched a house-to-house survey. It quickly became evident that one of the problems families were facing was chiggers. Chiggers are bugs that burrow into the tissue of the feet and then basically wreak havoc. They cause pain, itching, and infections. Due to the environment (bare-feet, unsanitary living conditions) they are not easy to treat. You can’t just smear on some medication and wait for them to fall off. They actually eat their way through the patient’s feet. Removal requires soaking, needles and often a scalpel. (more…)