February 14, 2018 by Don Rogers
WHEN LOVE BREAKS THROUGH!
What Everlyn recently said to the chief and hundreds in the village put into motion another meeting that needs your prayers and could change the course of life for hundreds!
If you have been following the impact of your support of ELI you know how God opened a door to reach hundreds of brewers of illegal alcohol with the love of God and alternative skills for business!
Today on this Valentines Day, Dennis (ELI Kenya Manager/Trainer) shared that a couple of weeks ago Everlyn (One of the reformed brewers) was invited by two village chiefs to address 300 people in a village on the devastating impact that the brewing business had had on her life and family. She shared her personal testimony of change that took place after graduating from one week of training with ELI staff at the training center and quoted Matthew 11:28 where Jesus invites a crowd to bring their burdens to him so that they can find true rest.
At the end of the meeting, the chiefs were quite impacted by her sharing and agreed to have another meeting with only illegal brewers. That meeting took place this past Thursday (2/8) and 150 women in the brewing business showed up and listened to Everlyn share with God inspired passion! She told them how ELI provides ideas rather than money and how the new business ideas and God’s love broke through and changed the course of her life and family!
Yet another meeting is now on the calendar and your prayers are greatly needed! On March 1st a couple Empowering Lives leaders/ trainers will be visiting the village for a “Pre-Training” meeting. The women will be challenged to take the bold step to come out of the brewing business and attend a 4-day ELI training designed just for them.
PRAY FOR MARCH 1st !
Will you believe with us that more lives are about to be changed for now and eternity?
Please mark your calendars and pray for March 1st ! That the 150 women will come to the village meeting to discuss with ELI staff – That hearts will be open to change – That they will agree on a date to come for the training – That the chiefs will continue to be supportive – That the women who do come to the Training Center will be changed from the inside out. Our greatest prayer is that they will then be used by God to transform more women, just like Everlyn has courageously testified to see LOVE BREAK THROUGH!
Everlyn – A Woman of Change
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 29, 2016 by Diana Coombs
This summer, your support helped more than 100 women make commitments to Christ and to turn their lives away from illicit brewing!
Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)
“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
I sat quietly in the back as the County Police Commissioner addressed the 16 women graduating from ELI training, who had been illegally brewing chang’aa (translation: ‘kill me quick’). They were the first trainees from Baringo County, where the top three reported crimes are rape, defilement, and assault—all related to the brewing, selling, and drinking of homebrewed liquor. He appealed to the women to think of their mother’s love and to think of the future they are giving to their children. Paying school fees with money from selling liquor comes at too high a price if children sleep clothed and ready to run should the police come in the night.
Training after training, I saw women making commitments to stop brewing and to trust God as they endeavored to make an honest living. What courageous faith for those living on the margins! I also heard testimonies from women who graduated from training a few years before, and they shared of improved relationships with their families, of strengthened faith, of restored dignity… and of course, of their new successful economic ventures!
Poverty is not just economic, but a physical, emotional, social, and spiritual burden. The ELI trainings allow families to be increasingly economically sustainable through the skills learned. Unsaddling their families from liquor brings increased physical and emotional health, and former graduates tell us how children are now in school and family communication improves. Socially and spiritually, graduates find encouragement and accountability with each other. As their lives are transformed, so are their communities as neighbors are also inspired to turn towards Christ.
At the end of the summer, leaders from a dozen past graduating groups gathered to be re-equipped to bring tools back to their communities. Empowerment is the incredible process of enabling communities to thrive. Thank you for being a stakeholder in this process and thank you for your faithfulness in supporting these women in Kenya!
Noreen Lue– Intern, Ilula Training Center
August 18, 2016 by Angela Vincent
Through your continued support of ELI, former brewers and their families are living sustainable lives that honor God! It is my joy to share with you some up-close-and-personal evidence of the physical, social and spiritual supports that convey sustainability that I experienced on my recent trip to Kenya.
– Joy radiates from each woman singing or sharing a testimony at a “Women of Change Kenya” event, entirely organized and led by a leadership team of former brewers from across Marakwet County. My heart is still singing “Congoi!”, which means “Thank you!” in Kalejin.
– The former brewers in Chepkorio, trained nearly three years ago, glow as they talk of their Monday meetings, led by two former brewers now in Bible School. They study the Bible, pray, organize their milk distribution co-op and assist group members needing help. Another group in the Metkei region enthusiastically invites me to a similar meeting their group holds twice a month.
– The husband of a former brewer notes what is different in their home since his wife was trained almost three years ago at the Ukweli Training Center. “We have unity. We plan together for the week or the month. Our children know we are together so they are more obedient.” His wife, upon hearing his words, breaks into a big smile and says, “I have joy in my heart!”
– Grace, in Iten, joyfully cuts bags full of Black Night Shade (a very nutritious vegetable) for each woman in her group because she has an abundant crop.
– Esther, after almost 3 years since training still says, “There’s no turning back! I’m on the path!” Her friend, Rose, proudly says, “We are chasing away poverty!”
– Sally smiles and sits up taller as she talks about her children, especially the two who have finished a university program. Trained almost 13 years ago in an early version of our current ELI training, Sally cares for her family (including her almost 100 year old grandmother), tends to her garden and chickens, and maintains her job. Though she carries much responsibility she says, “I could not return to brewing because I belong to God!”
Thank you for sustaining this life-changing program. This month, more than 100 brewers will be trained and equipped and will soon have stories like these women above!
*Photo of Gladys and Shekila from the Chepkorio area
Women of Change Coordinator
Empowering Lives International
April 28, 2016 by Angela Vincent
Because of you, thousands of people have been equipped with new hope for their lives. Hundreds of orphans have entered the family of God and entire villages in East Africa have turned 180 degrees, eradicating cycles of poverty and alcoholism.
This is the work of the people of God!
Meet Samuel Teimuge, Director of ELI Kenya.
Samuel, and his wife Rhoda, have spent their lives honoring God and have seen Him work in incredible ways.
They began with hearts eager to equip the needy around them with hope in Christ and life-changing knowledge and training. When they met Don Rogers, sparking a deep passion and friendship, ELI Kenya was formed! Without hesitation, Samuel and Rhoda donated a piece of their personal property, which later became the Ukweli Training Center in Ilula.
This simple donation of land turned into a holy space where, today, lives are equipped and transformed. Here, families are restored, children are educated, and the power of alcohol is abolished. Churches grow and a spirit of hopelessness is replaced with hope.
Samuel and Rhoda continue to dedicate their lives to equipping the needy around them. Samuel now trains the youth, teaching them the ways of the Lord through Sunday school and education. He and Rhoda also spend significant time following up with the women who go through ELI’s trainings. They visit the women’s families and communities, ensuring that they receive the support they need.
Samuel also works closely with Simit Valley—a community once overcome with challenges and on the brink of despair. Today, the community of Simit is seeing a vibrant spirit rise in their youth. Their schools are growing, and they built their very first HIV clinic.
Samuel and Rhoda have committed their lives to seeing people around them equipped with God’s love and power. Thank you for joining the Teimuges and the entire ELI family as we seek to empower and equip the lost for God’s glory!
P.S. If you would like a chance to meet Samuel and Rhoda, join us for our SoCal Walk 4 Africa event on Saturday, June 4th!
U.S. Operations Manager
Empowering Lives International
April 14, 2016 by Diana Coombs
Thank you for spreading the hope of God’s community! You are building community, both locally and globally.
Mary grew up in a family of brewers. Everyone she knew brewed alcohol illegally. She married an alcoholic who came from a chaotic family. It was not long until he abandoned Mary and the children.
Without any other example to follow, Mary began brewing and drinking alcohol. Soon, she was drowning in the dangers, violence, and poverty of her career. She felt rejected and alone.
When Mary came to the ELI Ukweli Training Center in 2013, her life changed. She described feeling so much peace as she entered the grounds and began to learn to cook, farm, and start a business. With the knowledge and skills she learned, Mary farmed and saved up to buy a house – the first home for her family.
But when Mary’s husband returned, he hated all that she had built. He burned the house down.
This time, Mary was not alone. The friends she had formed in her community and through the brewers’ training at ELI rallied together to help rebuild her home.
Life is still not easy for Mary, but she can feed her kids well and send them to school. Most importantly, she belongs to a loving, God-seeking community, which supports her and reminds her that she is never alone.
This beautiful outpouring of community occurs as God moves through and empowers people. We see the same dedication and love now pouring out by groups of women in the USA. Many have volunteered to join together to become 100 Women of Change. As they meet, they support one another and give to impact communities of brewers in East Africa. Their stories and Mary’s remind us that as one community, we join together to make a great impact on this world. To God be the glory!
By Tori Greaves
Empowering Lives International
Wish to respond by giving? Click here.
March 31, 2016 by Diana Coombs
Because of your prayers and support, we at Empowering Lives witness communities as they experience complete transformation and learn to seek and honor God.
In January, 2015, I sat with Pastor Boaz from the community of Kapsoo as he shared his struggles with me. His church only had 17 regular attendees. His community had an 85% alcoholism rate, and the people were entrenched in tribal sacrifices and other harmful ways. Poverty was rampant, and there was little joy. However, Pastor Boaz had hope because knew that God was faithful. He was very thankful for the partnership with ELI which shares his passion for community development that honors God.
Over the course of a year, alongside Pastor Boaz, ELI staff attended community meetings and visited people in their homes. They developed a demonstration farm, and teams from the US encouraged and preached the gospel to both children and adults. Women alcohol brewers attended a week-long training to gain alternative ideas for business. Gradually, people began to see a way out of their poverty and hopelessness.
Then, just last week, I had the privilege of sitting with Pastor Boaz again. He shared his testimony of the past year. He now has over 100 people attending church on a regular basis. The number of women brewing alcohol has decreased. Men are beginning to spend more time farming their land and earning money for their families instead of spending the day drinking alcohol. The tribal sacrifices have ceased and have been replaced with prayers to God.
Pastor Boaz said, “The people in this community were once harsh towards God and towards me. But thanks to the support of ELI and the prayers of many, the people are no longer harsh and lives are being changed.”
Thank you for being an important part of our ministry as we equip people to live lives that honor God. Your support and prayers are what make it possible for communities like Kapsoo to have hope and experience God’s life-changing power.
By Lori Eaton
March 17, 2016 by Diana Coombs
God uses you to bring people dignity! Through your prayers and support, you empower sustainable lives. But what does this look like?
As I walked by Leah, I reached into my pocket to hand her a dollar for a loaf of bread. This was the fourth day in a row.
Battered and abandoned by an abusive husband, Leah had taken refuge in our church. Though her wounds healed and we could offer her a small hut for shelter, she still had to beg in order to eat.
It hit me that in my attempt to solve her problem I was actually creating one.
By handing her a daily dollar I was:
Creating and encouraging her dependency.
Robbing her of the joy of developing her own skills.
Removing her responsibility to solve her problems.
And supporting an unsustainable solution.
I’ve learned from experience and from God’s Word that God is more interested in building our lives than simply solving our problems. Jesus tells his disciples “Go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:16).
The solutions to poverty are certainly not simple. However, by guiding people to attain skills and find sustainable solutions, we equip them to build their lives and achieve God’s purposes for them. Then they, too, become teachers and role models of the holistic life to which God calls us all.
Two months later, Leah was selling bread. A Tanzanian comrade and I built a steel drum oven to give to her. I’ll never forget the day that she walked forward during a church service with coins in her hands for an offering. Her face filled with a smile. The fruits of her own labor she was now able to give to God!
by Don Rogers
Wish to respond by giving? Click here.
January 6, 2016 by Diana Coombs
Text and photos by Samuel Teimuge, ELI Kenya Director
The homecoming of reformed brewers to their home in Kaptarakwa, Kenya was fantastic. We did not expect to meet such a large crowd. The reformed brewers have already formed three groups of 15 each. The umbrella name is Kaptarakwa About Turn Group, with a woman named Jane as their leader. They have three leaders: Everlyn, Lucy and Christina. The three leaders spoke powerfully and with full confidence of who they are after training.
Everlyn said, “We found life.” She quoted Amy Rogers who told them, “Let your minds rest.” This was quoted by all of the leaders, and they said that they truly rested.
Everlyn left brewing completely and confessed that she has killed many through her illicit brews. She said the group took an oath to never brew again and that they are now Christians. They have crossed to Canaan. She said that they are being threatened and told to brew; yet they will never go back. Her group plans to pursue agroforestry, dairy farming and horticulture.
Lucy said, “When we started our journey to Ilula, we were told that we had been arrested. But Jesus arrested us in Ilula.” She said that Jesus is her personal savior and that light and darkness don’t meet. Her former fellow brewers no longer greet her, but her graduating class greets her with joy. Her group wants to pursue tree tomatoes, kitchen gardening, tea seedlings and greenhouses for horticulture.
Christina said she has started raising chickens. Her group planned to raise sheep, make bread and manage poultry.
The brewing pots are all gone. The leaders also said that they are now the local chief’s “soldiers”. One of the former brewers encouraged the group to always run to Jesus because He is not poor.
The group said that they are now preaching the word of God, and they don’t want to keep quiet lest they will be condemned. They also vowed before the Deputy Governor of Elgeyo-Marakwet County that they would never return to brewing again.
In closing prayer, one of the reformed brewers named Jennifer prayed, “Let this change remain until the coming of Jesus Christ.”
December 21, 2015 by Diana Coombs
Text and photos by Isaac Ruto, ELI Kenya staff
Enock Bizimana and Joan Louise are Extension Training coordinators in Rwanda. They completed their training on sustainable agriculture and community development In Kenya under Empowering Lives’ International Extension Training program in July of this year.
The two coordinators have been training local farmers in Rwanda on sustainable agriculture, local chickens, dairy goats, dairy cows, kitchen gardens, ELITE grain storage bags (a chemical-free way of storing and protecting grains from pests), pig keeping, coffee farming and climbing beans. They have trained 37 pastors and 27 government officers for three months on sustainable agriculture.
Through ELI’s Extension Training program, we have been able train over 300 farmers to date in Rwanda. A one-year training program on sustainable agriculture is already underway there and will go through July 2016.
November 30, 2015 by Diana Coombs
Text and photo by Samuel Teimuge, ELI Kenya Director
I met Pauline on the street in Iten, Kenya, and she greeted me with a smile. I asked her who she was, and she said,” I am a reformed brewer from Iten.”
Then I asked, “What happened?” Then she told me of how she got delivered and now she is living a wonderful life.
Pauline used to brew 60 liters (almost 16 gallons) of changaa (locally brewed alcohol) per week. She has seven children, and she is a widow.
Her children were very happy to see her totally reformed.
The following year, since she had reconciled with her children, they talked and the children teamed up with her to rent land to farm wheat and maize. She had planted finger millet, and so she sold and used the money to plant maize and wheat. They have now done this three times.
The children organized a thanksgiving service for Pauline because she has reformed. They bought her house items and a pick-up vehicle so that she can do her maize business of buying and taking to sell in Eldoret, Kenya.
Pauline goes to a church in Iten. She is the chairperson of a group of other reformed brewers called Chebaibai (which means “smiling” or “always happy” in the language of the local tribe, Kalenjin). She planted 300 passion fruit seedlings, and she now sells 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds) per week.
She cannot hide her joy and she is so thankful for what ELI has done for her.
November 12, 2015 by Diana Coombs
Text and photos by Dan Masengeli, ELI Kenya staff
Stanley Baroret, a graduate of ELI’s Sustainable Agriculture and Community Development Program (SACDP) of 2012 to 2013, has passed through a lot of trials and tribulations of life, but God—who is the author and finisher of our faith—has remained faithful.
Growing up with hardships
Life started to take a hard path 20 years ago when his father took in Stanley’s mother as a second wife, who gave birth to five other siblings of Stanley. The father deserted the young family and even sold the land where they were living without their knowledge. They only came to know they were squatters when the new owner came to evict them. His mother decided to seek justice from the local chief. Thank God he managed to stop the transfer of land, cancel the transaction and order a division of land between the two families.
Peacefully, they settled on their own family land, but another challenge came knocking on their doorstep: lack of income. Life became hard because of lack of meals, education and proper housing that led the young family to work in a stone quarry to earn money for the education of their elder sister, in whom they placed all their hope. God answered their prayers when she finished Form Four (Grade 12) and got employed as an untrained teacher at a nearby primary school. There was some reprieve in that the wages earned enabled the family to afford three meals a day. After two years of working, God blessed their sister with a husband who offered to pay for her college fees at a teacher training college. This came as a blessing, but a problem was lack of income again. Stanley’s elder brother and Stanley (who was eight years old at the time) decided to look for a job at a nearby farm to herd cows while his mother decided to brew alcohol.
Pursuing education—and a better life
With the little income he earned, Stanley went through primary education and then joined high school, where his attendance was on and off. In Form Two (Grade 10), he completed one term, and in Form Three (Grade 11), he completed one term. In Form Four, he did a full term of hide and seek, especially when he was being sent home for lack of school fees.
The turning point began when he met a former SACDP student named Sosten Kimeli, who told him about the Training Center in Kipkaren, Kenya. That was the period when he was also scouting for a college to join. One of his uncles informed him that his grandfather had left a cow for him as a present, and it sold. He used the funds from the sale to pay fees at the Training Center.
Empowered to empower others
In 2013, because of his passion for God’s work, Stanley was selected to be church clerk and secretary as well as sales and marketing director of his home church. Glory be to God for what He has done for his family, too, because their father is back home, and all of them have gone back to church again.
God lifts His faithful children from grass to grace. In November 2014, Stanley was employed as an assistant administrator and parent at World Hope Children’s Home in Lemoru, Kenya. The current position has enabled him to minster to children, form a prayer band to pray for others in the community and lead staff devotions. It has also allowed him to support two of his sisters’ school fees, one in Form Two and another who has joined college. In addition, he is contributing 10 percent of his salary to pay for different motivational speakers, who he invites to encourage the children to grow spiritually and morally.
Stanley is grateful that the Lord God Almighty has enabled him to reach this far, and he is longing to do more to help those who are oppressed and don’t know Christ Jesus to come to the Kingdom.
August 31, 2015 by Diana Coombs
You raised $7,138! Funds continue to come in. This will provide a full week of training and follow up for 79 people in East Africa.
We are so grateful for the committed teams who joined to run/walk last week in support of Empowering Lives’ trainings. Through 5-Ks, hikes and walks around the neighborhood, people met to share a story of hope, pray together and support the work that God is accomplishing in East Africa.
As teams in the U.S. gathered, other teams began to form as well. At the same time, in Kenya, we held a week of training for alcohol brewers from the community of Kaptarakwa. The brewers (all women) had a fantastic week, learning about technology like small vertical gardens, which allow them to raise food around their homes in spaces they once thought were useless.
The women celebrated what they learned at the end of the week and made a commitment never to return to brewing. Present at the celebration was the Deputy County Commissioner for Elgeyo-Marakwet County (where Kaptarakwa is located). He shared how grateful he was for ELI’s trainings, which have completely changed the make-up of his area. Almost 400 brewers in his county have now reformed, cutting off supply. Now, alcohol must come from neighboring counties, but this commissioner is excited to spread word of ELI to those counties as well so that they may also seek transformation.
Thank you to all of you who led and participated in the run/walk last week. This is the change to which you contribute. Thank you to all of you prayed and supported with donations as well as everyone who celebrated these stories with us, especially throughout the week on our Facebook page. Together, we are empowering lives!
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.
February 17, 2015 by Diana Coombs
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.”
July 15, 2014 by Diana Coombs
For most Americans (who think of it), Mombasa brings to mind political strife, hotly contested debates between Muslims and Christians, riots by youths, bombings, and tribal clashes that often result in injury and death. Being in Mombasa during two major events – Ramadan (the Muslim holy month of fasting) and Saba Saba (a political action day with a vicious past in Kenya) – we felt we experienced a small amount of the tension that exists in this coastal city.
Ministering in the Frere Town neighborhood of Kenya’s second largest city, we saw poverty, alcoholism, drugs and low paying jobs impacting the students attending the Free Methodist Academy. Most of the 242 students come from single parent homes, with many only able attend the school because of a sponsorship program funded by the church. A subsidized breakfast and lunch program, costing families only 20 Kenyan shillings per child (about 25 cents), is struggle for many to pay.
How can mentoring help in these situations? It is our belief that by touching the hearts and minds of children, change can take place in countries devastated by corruption, poverty, inequality and illness. Coming alongside teachers – those whom society has deemed as the carriers of societal values and knowledge – we challenge them to perform their job differently. Rather than viewing themselves as keepers of knowledge, we seek to turn their hearts and minds – and those of their students – to the ultimate place of wisdom, knowledge and character: Jesus! Using teacher training seminars and mentoring as our vehicle, we hope to touch lives in meaningful ways.
We’d like to say that this is easy, but that wouldn’t be the truth. It is hard to help people make mental shifts, to examine long-held cultural views and compare them to biblical truth. It is challenging to refocus a teacher’s efforts away from test scores to life beyond the test. Working with few resources, teachers struggle to apply innovative creative teaching when even having chalk and pencils in a challenge. Learning to welcome “errors,” “mistakes” and “wrong answers” as information to guide students to deeper thinking is a struggle for educators who are trained to believe that the world provides one right answer to everything.
Mentoring is a means to share, approximate and try new things. It opens the door to many heartbreaking discussions, but it also leads to many that are illuminating. When we are invited into schools, it is an opportunity to look at life in the classroom and seek a pathway that reveals the Creator. It is our goal to help every teacher know Christ and through that, help their students know Him too.
June 16, 2014 by Diana Coombs
Helen used to illegally brew alcohol for 16 years in order to gain income to support herself and her family. Last Friday, she gave her testimony for graduation day after a weeklong training for over 40 former brewers at the Kipkaren River Training Center, with local government officials, village chiefs, and ELI Kenya staff in attendance. She expressed her vision of continuing to help people out of brewing and exhorted the group of graduates to do the same.
“I wanted these [people] to be brought, to come out of brewing so that we can do our best in developing our country,” she said through an interpreter. “So I think all of us, we are now becoming light as we go back to our villages.”
June 6, 2014 by Diana Coombs
“These are our children. Do not leave them.”
This was the plea given to Angelina before the parents of four children in her community died. With another 16 grandchildren to take care of, she was struggling.
She tried raising chickens to support her family and the orphans she took in. She purchased vaccines from local shops, but the medicine didn’t work. The chicks were lost, and eventually, she had no more chickens.
When Angelina heard about ELI’s extension training for farmers, she attended the first day to see if it could help her with poultry farming. After that first day, she promptly went out and bought a hen. From there, everything changed. Today, she has over 30 healthy chickens.
The extension training seeks to bring information where it’s most needed to poor farmers, giving them education and requiring practical, hands-on work in the field. The training, which runs for six months per session, takes in between 20-25 students per group and has reached 32 counties across Kenya. The mission is to train people to become “business farmers” – farmers equipped with relevant information on best agricultural practices as well as basic business principles – who are spiritually developed as well.
“We are bringing up the whole person,” as extension training leader Isaac Ruto puts it.
Throughout six months of training and fieldwork, Angelina did not lose a single chicken. From the program, she learned about local herbs that can be added to chicken feed as a natural way of protecting them from illness. She is able to keep her chickens healthy without the risk of trying expensive, store-bought vaccines that have failed in the past.
Through poultry farming and also vegetable farming, Angelina now brings in enough income to help cover school fees for her grandchildren and two of the four orphans (the other two have since gotten married and left). Her small shamba (farm) includes peppers, pumpkin, tomatoes, kale, and onions. What she doesn’t sell, she uses to feed her family, saving about 100 Kenyan Shillings (over $1) a day.
Angelina graduated from the extension training program this spring. Despite starting the program with nothing, she has come a long way. Her farm is thriving, her family is taken care of and her chickens are plenty.
April 10, 2014 by Diana Coombs
Dust hangs in the air as hoes churn the red earth. A group of about 30 women, working side by side, till the dirt in the late afternoon heat. One woman bends over to collect what’s been uncovered: potatoes, small and golden. She deftly tosses them into an open sack, which soon fills up. Another takes a moment to rest while walking through the rugged field, a load of over 100 pounds of potatoes on her back. After catching her breath, she continues on. Eventually, dozens of sacks are filled, and the entire harvest is purchased – the result of countless hours of labor and a reward that was almost unthinkable just months ago.
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…)