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ELI began in Kenya in 1995 and is now impacting people throughout 9 countries in East Africa. A short-term trip to Tanzania in 1989 by Don Rogers was the first of many that eventually led Don to Kenya where he and his wife Amy, along with two Kenyan nationals (Samuel Teimuge and David Tarus), registered ELI Kenya in 1995. The two Kenyan leaders each donated several acres of land in Ilula and Kipkaren River where the two Skills for Life Training Centers were constructed over the following years.

From these simple beginnings--meeting in grass huts and the leaders walking to venues by foot or local transport--ELI began to provide training in business and agricultural skills, integrated with the message of God’s transforming love. The strategy for empowerment continues to combine dynamic ideas and skills in short courses both at the training centers and in the villages to help the poor address the challenges oppressing their lives spiritually, physically, and economically. 

As the number of people that ELI impacted grew, God repeatedly brought suffering orphans into the view of ELI leadership who had to respond by helping a handful of suffering children who had no home or guardians. After a lot of prayer and research, in 2004 ELI opened the doors of a 100-bed “family village” right next to the ELI “Ukweli” (Truth) Training Center, and a second home the same size was built and opened in 2006 in Kipkaren, Kenya.

Around this same time a Christian leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was attending university in Kenya when he happened to observe one of the ELI village-based training programs. His heart leapt to see the unique ELI approach to training, so he pursued ELI leadership for several years with petitions to launch an ELI ministry in his country. After a long discernment process ELI leaders established a one-room elementary school (only 30 children) in the Keredi Slum in the heart of the war-torn city of Bukavu. As the school grew, more property was purchased, and today the school provides award-winning Christian education to over 700 children from kindergarten through high school. The older children can choose either a business or a teaching emphasis so they graduate with a practical skill to help them get hired.

Over the years ELI has moved through open doors to provide life-changing help and empowerment to forgotten places. In 2000 ELI established a presence along Lake Victoria in Tanzania which today partners with villagers to provide safe and fresh water (through the drilling of water wells). This then leads to deeper partnerships as people attend ELI workshops on healing from emotional trauma and the oppressions of poverty.

In every area where ELI has worked, there is one root cause that has been linked to a multitude of problems, including generational poverty, throughout East and Central Africa: the business of illegally brewing and selling locally made alcohol. This illegal brewing makes the drink so accessible, affordable, and destructive that alcoholism becomes even more rampant. ELI has been led over the years onto a pathway that is destroying this force--one life and one community at a time. With a unique program to provide alternative skills to illegal brewers and a 10-day intensive detox program, hundreds of families are being set free from addiction and are finding healing of body, mind, and spirit!


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