Showing posts sorted by relevance for query jiko. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query jiko. Sort by date Show all posts

Jiko Stove Project - Phase 2, Final Installment

The second phase of the Jiko Stove Project in Rift Valley Kenya is nearing completion.  We are making stoves in the villages of Chepkurbet, Anamoi, Kapcheptoror (5 miles from Kericho Town) and Kimilot which is inside the tea estate about 20 miles from Kericho Town.

As I mentioned in  my last post here, we have not had to supervise Emily and Regina who are making the stoves.  Yet these two women have gone beyond the call of duty, making beautiful stoves and even teaching the other women how to take care of their jikos.

Now the rest of these  photos below will show you the latter phases of the work.  Some of the pictures were taken at night so they are a bit dark but they will more than give you an idea about how well this project has gone.

This is a new stove that is in the process of curing (drying and being readied for baking).
Another angle of the stove.

The majority of stoves were made in Chepkurbet for the village women there and last time I checked in, Emily and Regina were on their third day of stove making for the widows in Anamoi. The balance of stoves will be made in the other villages and altogether this part of the project will see 35 stoves completed. In the first phase of the project which occurred about one and a half years ago, we were able to make 11 jiko stoves.  If you like, you can read more about that here.

A small child who will benefit from the reduced smoke emissions of this stove.
All the children in this household who will benefit from reduced smoke and reduced labour to collect firewood.

We are now able to get to more women and families with the jiko stoves. Not all of the women recipients of the stove are widows. Some of them have husbands. The thing they all have in common is that they need a new stove to help them with the environmental and health risks associated with the three stone fires they had been using. Read more about that here. For humble villagers like these to put in such a stove would be quite costly and also viewed as a luxury item.  While it might be financially doable for some it is likely at the expense or risk of not providing food and education for the children and other family members. Food is a necessity for people who often only get one meal a day and education would be considered far more valuable than a jiko stove.

Here is the mother. Just think how much better her daily cooking experience will be. Thank you God!
A fire is lit.
Another family benefits from the jiko.
A mother and her child with the new jiko.
This is an older type of jiko stove that at least one village woman had. You can see that it is an improvement over a stone fire but it is not energy efficient. Smoke and heat still escapes from the top. In a new jiko model the smoke is funnelled to the outside of the home and the stove would need less wood to keep a fire going due to energy efficiency.

I want to say one thing about the husbands also. Generally in Kenya, the men do not associate themselves so much with the concerns of the kitchen or the hardships of cooking. These areas of home life fall under the responsibility of women.  Consequently, I was very happy to hear how as a result of this project, some of the husbands are actively engaged and supportive of these new stoves and that they value them as an advantage for their wives and their households. You will see one of the husbands posing in the photos. You can see he is smiling and proud to have a new jiko stove.

One husband who so appreciates the stove for his family.
This concludes my series on Phase 2 of the Jiko Stove Project. Phase 3 will happen when I get to Kenya. You can read about that in the weeks to come.

Chepkurbet Jiko Project Comes to Life

Hi friends and fellow bloggers,

I had to  come out from my blogging break for a short while to share some exciting and wonderful news with you. I've written before about my volunteer efforts in Kenya for the widows and orphans. One of the projects that has been on my mind for quite some time is providing all the village women in Chepkurbet with a jiko stove.  These women are from the Kalenjin tribe in the beautiful Rift Valley.  Read more about the Kalenjin people here.

This is a traditional Kalenjin hut. Usually there is a separate one for cooking.
These women and their children live in huts without running water or comforts that many women in the west have.  I wanted to help give them just a little more ease in their lives than what they have been accustomed to. It didn't seem right that I would have running water, electricity, washer and dryer and dishwasher and these woman don't have any of these things.  Beyond that I wanted to do something that would improve their quality of life in other ways.

I learned that the women traditionally make 3 stone fires. It is the cheapest stove to produce, requiring only three suitable stones of the same height on which the women can balance a cooking pot over the fire. However, this cooking method also has many problems.

Making these fires requires the women to travel far and spend hours out of each day to gather the twigs and firewood that they need.  For women alone and travelling far, there can be safety issues and threats to their security. Purchasing wood or charcoal to make the fire are options but these villagers have limited funds which must stretch to meet many other needs.

The energy use in a 3 stone fire is not very efficient as there is nothing to contain the fire.  This means more wood is burned and the women have to spend a lot more of their time to gather the wood. The more wood that is used, the worse it is for the environment because more trees are consumed and deforestation then occurs.

You can see from the photo below that the 3 stone fire is open on all sides. The cook must balance the pot on the stones and so cooking and stirring the contents of the pot can be precarious. This is very dangerous work for women and children alike and can lead to burns and scalding from both fires and hot water or hot food.

The 3 stone fires also create a lot of smoke.  The smoke creates lung and eye problems for the women and their children. The World Health Organization says that smoke that is vented into the home is responsible for the deaths of 1.6 million people worldwide every year. This is one death every 20 seconds. That is an astounding figure and a very sad situation indeed.

A 3 stone fire will only enable a woman to use one pot at a time. This means that it is inefficient for preparing tea and a meal of ugali (ugali is an East African dish made of maize flour). It will takes hours and hours as you must boil the water in separate pots for both of these things. This is also where I got the photo of the girl making ugali on a 3 stone fire in the photo above.  I could not locate my own photo.  Since my photos were taken in 2007, I went through many computer problems and virus attacks. The photo I was looking for is either damaged or on a disc somewhere in my files.

After I learned all about the cons of a 3 stone fire, I knew I had to do something for these women.  In 2008, I was helping the school children and farmers with educational and seed and fertilizer needs as well as harvesting needs. At the same time I was trying unsuccessfully to raise funds for these projects and to find safer and greener ways for the women to cook. Finally in the fall of 2008, I went ahead on my own to fund the construction of 11 new stoves/ovens for the village women. These stoves/ovens are called jiko ovens. First we build an oven like the one you see below. It is still a bit orangey in colour as it must cure (dry) before it is ready for use. Next we add a jiko pot made out of ceramic. You will see that in one of the photos below.

3 stone fire to the left of the post. new jiko stove on right
A Kenyan ceramic jiko pot is also needed.
Many organizations and individuals have been working on developing improved stoves to address the kind of issues raised in using a 3 stone fire. Of all the improved stoves, the Kenya Ceramic Jiko (KCJ) seems to be the most widely accepted and has become a standard item in many homes in Kenya and neighboring countries in East Africa.

Charcoal is the standard cooking fuel in East Africa if you have some funds to buy it or you can make it yourself. Otherwise women have to collect many twigs to start their fires.  Traditionally it was burned in a metal stove or “Jiko” as stoves are called in the Swahili language. The KCJ is simply the traditional Jiko mated to a ceramic liner, producing a stove that is at least one fourth (and up to 50%) more efficient than traditional all-metal alternative. You will often read that it only costs $2 to $5 US but I have yet to find them at that price. Although the exchange rate today is much better for the Canadian dollar than it was three years ago, Canadian money still doesn't go as far as American funds. Also, Kenya is a very expensive country with ever increasing prices.

The new stoves and jiko pots went over extremely well with the first 11 households. Over the next year and a half I received a half dozen requests as to when we were ready to continue building the stoves and ovens for the remaining village women. There are still 28 households to service.We also hope to build 5 stoves for widows in another village called Anamoi.

I racked my brain and reviewed my budget a thousand different ways to see what could be done. It was challenging due to the global recession to see how we might proceed. be continued.

Dreaming of Africa

These days I am dreaming of Africa. Kenya in particular. I want to visit and see my friends in the flesh instead of just emailing. I also want to make some progress on a small project with the village women in Kericho, Kenya.

I've long had a desire to help the orphan girls and women to somehow make their lives easier with things like jiko stoves and fireless cookers, as well as menstrual pads.

A jiko stove would help the women in so many ways but they are somewhat expensive especially for the villagers and a recent cheaper alternative came available but it is still too much for a villager. Jikos can save the women from back breaking and time consuming work of collecting firewood. Because there are so many people collecting twigs to start the fires for daily cooking, it is harder and harder to find it nearby. Women and children can spend hours a day locating the wood and carrying it home on their backs. It is hard work and also dangerous to go so far where you can be accosted. Once you get it home and start the fire for cooking the smoke that is generated is also a health hazard for the women and children who often suffer from eye problems.

Here is a photo of  a woman collecting firewood. I was trying to take her photo discreetly so it turned out blurry.

My hope is that I can provide each household in the village near Kericho with a jiko stove or a fireless cooker. So far I've managed to pay for 11 jiko stoves and there are another 28 women waiting for one. A jiko uses less wood and uses it more efficiently. Also you do not get all the smoke you do with the traditional three stone fire. You can read more about the jiko stove project here. You can also READ here about people I am helping in the village with the jikos.

Because of the cost and the time it is taking me to get enough jiko stoves, I've recently been considering  fireless cookers instead. They look like this in the photo below and are less expensive than a jiko stove. The drawback is that they are not as versatile. This is not my photo but I've misplaced the one I was sent. 

[Photo credit: Solar Cookers International]

If I am fortunate I may get to visit my friend, Loice and her husband, Pastor Japheth in Nakuru. Here is Loice looking with interest at her digital photo. I say if I am fortunate because I may be rather busy when I visit and so we shall see how things go.

I leave you with ac photo of the majestic lion in the national park in Nakuru. They roam the park and you must stay in the car. No walking around here where the lions roam though there is a picnic area where the baboons are.

I simply love the majestic lion. But I wouldn't want to pet one!

Chepkurbet Jiko Project Comes to Life - Pt. 2

(Continued from part 1 which you can read here).

I tried different ways to raise funds for the Jiko Stoves Project in Kenya. First, I tried selling photos taken in Kenya. I opened an Etsy shop. I only sold one photo but I will try again later as I feel this can still be successful. I also tried to sell home made crosses on commission. You can read here about that effort. The crosses were wonderful and I did sell some. However since they aren't mine I returned the remainder to the craftsman. I used the funds raised to pay for school needs instead of jiko stoves.

From time to time I thought of other alternatives for how to bring about energy efficiencies and I did find a fireless cooker. Read about it here.  I think fireless cookers are a good thing and they are much less expensive than putting in a full stove and jiko pot.  I considered going this route instead of putting into a full stove and buying jiko but 28 households in the village were waiting to have jiko stoves like the first set of 11 women.  I also felt that a proper stove and pot would be a better investment over the long term in helping improve the lives of these village women and children.

I scour the internet a lot.  One day through Simon, one of my blogging contacts, I was encouraged to have hope that I could  really find an answer to the dilemma of the jiko stove needs.  Simon suggested I could get a mold (cast) made and the villagers could build their own stoves.  Simon also kindly provided me some information as to where to get the building plans. The challenge then became how to find the carpenter, how much to pay him and how to get the actual stoves built in the village huts because this process requires taking the mold from house to house and the houses are rather far apart.

I discussed it with my Pastor friend, Pastor Jonah and he agreed to find a carpenter. After a few weeks of  communicating with my Kenyan friend about the various ins and outs of the project and working on and tweaking the budget, I gave the "green" light to Pastor Jonah to look for a carpenter.  This wasn't as simple as it sounds. Pastor Jonah had to speak to several carpenters and show them the building plans.  Some of them would not even consider trying to follow the plans for building the mold. I could in fact understand why.  When I look at the diagrams and instructions, they seem very complicated.  I imagine that some of the village carpenters might not read very well and so could not follow the instructions. I also concluded that some of them probably have a few projects they make and limit their work to those things which they know they can sell.  I am so glad we did find someone who would take on the challenge!  He is obviously someone who is a bit more adventurous and willing to take on new things.

The first attempt at building the mold was a little rusty in that the lines of the wood were crooked.
First attempt was a little crooked
After the carpenters adjustments, the mold looks beautiful!
Two days later we had this wonderfully finished mold to make the stoves.
The next step was to get someone to make the stoves. My friend went ahead and hired two enthusiastic women in the village who are passionate about making the stoves.

Come back again soon and see the work they have accomplished. be continued

Chepkurbet Jiko Stove Project Continues (Part 3)

Hello readers and friends,

I began telling you about the Jiko Stove Project awhile back. If you would like to read more please look here and here.

You will remember perhaps that my friend Pastor Jonah hired two local women, Emily and Regina to make the jiko stoves. These women are so passionate about making the stoves and they do it with a lot of joy and gusto. They have to be strong to make these stoves but they are also very creative and I am so pleased and happy that they have been able to help us out in making this project come to life. 

Emily and Regina are working very hard on behalf of all the women in the villages.  They have worked so tirelessly and they have worked with gusto despite not being supervised. They have also taken it upon themselves to teach the other women how to care for these stoves. It is a true pleasure to have them working on this project and to see them take on the making of the stoves as their own project. The widow woman in the top photo wearing the blue t-shirt is Mrs. Irene Songony, the recipient of this particular stove.

Here you see the two ladies pounding the soil that will ultimately become the new stove.

Here the ladies are smoothing out what will become the bottom end of the new stove.
Here is a look at one of the new stoves. See how the ladies have made some decorative edges all around. they have also created shelves at the back of the stove.

A clearer view of the stove.

Here is a close up of the stove. You can see the spaces for the firewood and also see that the stove top has two holes for cooking pots. Both holes need to be covered even if you are only using one. Chances are you need two pots to boil water. One for tea and one for cooking the food.

The Jiko Stove project continues. We have a few stoves to make in a handful of villages but most of them will be made in Chepkurbet. I pray these stoves would be a wonderful blessing to the women and their families.  I praise God we can help widows through this project. May God abundantly bless them and help all the widows we are helping so that their life can be as God intended for them.  I hope to share some final pictures with you soon and a few words about the impact of this project on the husbands, in my next and final instalment in this series on the Jiko Stove Project.

I hope you are enjoying this project as much as I've enjoyed sharing about it. Please pray for these women who are building the stoves. Pray that they would be blessed beyond measure and that the recipients of the stoves will also feel a great blessing from God.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27

Crosses for Missions

Many of you know that I am deeply involved in missions to poor villagers, mainly to the widows and orphans in Kenya. We operate on very few donations to try and bring relief to the many people in the village who struggle to eke out a living in a country hard pressed by famine and poverty. Pastor Jonah's time is strictly voluntary as is mine. I try and support Pastor Jonah and other village leaders as best I can, including through helping build a web presence for the Missions of Hope.

Recently, I was blessed with a donation of hand crafted crosses with a request to sell them and use some of the profits for the mission field. I cannot tell you how happy I am about this blessing because it provides an exciting opportunity to help the mission field in Kenya in time for Christmas. The villagers will be so happy that they can celebrate Christmas like others throughout the world if we can sell enough crosses to help them. At the same time, you, the reader will have a chance to do some Christmas shopping and buy stocking stuffers for one or two of your favorite people. "Yes" Christmas will soon be here!!!

I have a very limited supply of crosses to sell. So if you want one please be quick to speak up. You will see from the two photos that these crosses are designed to be worn by men and women alike. My small shipment will be arriving very soon and then I will be expecting one more smaller shipment. I am hoping to sell at least the first shipment in time to be able to get your cross to you in well enough time for your Christmas tree. The price for each of these handcrafted crosses is $25.00 (US) plus $5.00 for shipping and handling.

Your hand crafted cross will come with a card which reads:

100% hand crafted by Christians in the USA

The Disciple's Cross is made up of three distinct components. The simulated leather cord reminds us of the leather straps used to beat our Savior; the wrapped wire stands for the thorn branches twisted into a crown to mock the King of Kings; and, of course, the nails represent the large spikes that were driven into the hands and feet of the Lord of Lords.

As you carry your Disciple's Cross with you, consider the sacrifice that Jesus made for you and take up your cross and follow him.

(c) 1994 By Disciple's Cross. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 15:24 "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."

These wonderful crosses will be cherished by your loved one (or by you) for years to come. Profits made from the sale will be used to make a jiko stove/oven in the village of Kericho to help make the lives of village women safer, healthier and just a little bit easier. You can read more about the Jiko Stove Project here and in the blog here Missions of Hope.

[One of the women who received a jiko stove in 2009]

To order your crosses or crosses now, please send me an email with your complete shipping address and remit payment of $30.00 (US) via Pay Pal (includes price of the product and shipping charges) to kerichojoy{at}gmail{dot}com. Funds must be received before crosses are shipped.

The crosses come in several different colors but there is only one cross in each color. Let us pick the color for you and it will be an adventure, like a "surprise box". You won't be disappointed.

We who love the Missions of Hope to Kericho are excited about this new opportunity. If you have any questions or can support the Missions through your purchase, I would love to hear from you.

God bless you and thank you for your support

Sad News of Loss in Kenya

It was sad news that greeted me this morning.

A friend in Kenya informed me that Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Wangari Maathai has died after battling cancer.

This was sad news indeed. Sad because the world and the country of Kenya have lost a courageous woman of vision. I'm thankful that she left this world a little better place and I hope someone is there to continue on her important work and that others would make it grow. I'm happy too that she is now out of pain.

Wangari Maathai was the first woman from Africa to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. What I loved about her was she founded a movement in Kenya to plant trees so that women and girls could get the timber they needed for making fires. This resonated well with me because of  my interest in providing jiko stoves for the women and girls in Kenya. (You can read more here about jiko stove project).

The story of this brave woman reminds me of the power and influence that one person can make.  Remember, you too can make a difference wherever you are. Each of us can make a difference.

After you read the basic story of her environmental activism (below), you can learn more here about how this remarkable woman's life and actions epitomized this well known quotation,
All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men (women) to do nothing.

Story and photo from CNN, Inside Africa

Kenyan Nobel laureate Maathai dies

From David McKenzie, CNN
September 26, 2011 -- Updated 1730 GMT (0130 HKT)

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize, died Monday after a battle with cancer. She was 71.

"It is with great sadness that the Green Belt Movement announces the passing of its founder and chair, Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai, after a long illness bravely borne," her organization said.
Maathai, an environmentalist, had long campaigned for human rights and the empowerment of Africa's most impoverished people.

More than 30 years ago she founded the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting campaign to simultaneously mitigate deforestation and to give locals, especially women and girls, access to resources like firewood for cooking and clean water. They have since planted more than 40 million trees.

In 2004, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote sustainable development, democracy and peace. She was the first woman from the continent to win the prize.

"Her departure is untimely and a very great loss to all of us who knew her—as a mother, relative, co-worker, colleague, role model, and heroine—or those who admired her determination to make the world a peaceful, healthy, and better place for all of us," said Karanja Njoroge, executive director of the Green Belt Movement.

Born in Nyeri, Kenya, on April 1, 1940, Maathai blazed many trails in her life.

She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. In December 2002, she was elected to Kenya's parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the vote.

She was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of 100 most influential people in the world. And Forbes listed her as one of 100 most powerful women in the world.

In April 2006, France bestowed its highest honor on her: the Legion d'Honneur.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called Maathai a "global icon who has left an indelible mark in the world of environmental conservation."

Maathai leaves behind three children and a granddaughter.


All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.
T.E. Lawrence

"He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds."
Job 33:15 (NLT)

As a child, I had dreams; lots of dreams and a vivid imagination.  Money and material things were in short supply in our household.  That meant my family didn't own a car among other things and we lived somewhat out of the city district of my small city. I had lots of time to myself each day during the school year, walking to and from school.  I remember walking through vast fields in Fall, Winter and Spring through all the seasons of the school year. My imagination came in handy.  I would hold conversations with my imaginary friends and keep myself company on the way to and from school.  It was a long and lonely walk, especially when I started junior high school and my brother was still in the elementary school so we had to take different routes.  Don't get me wrong.  I wasn't living in a fantasy world and "seeing" people that weren't there and believing that they actually existed.  I was simply imagining a different life; a life full of adventure and travel and exciting things.  I had no real idea of what I might do in future. I only knew that whatever happened, life would be better.  At the same time during these tender years, I was going to Sunday School.  I believed very much in God and looked forward to Sunday service as well as services during the week.   It was there that I was introduced to missions and to the continent of Africa. I even envisioned that one day God would send me to Africa  as a missionary.

Then life happened.  And indeed life was better. God gave me many rich experiences and blessed me in many ways. He enabled me to gain a university education, one of the few people in my extended family who has been blessed with a rich university education.  He also enabled me to travel and see many of the things that I always wanted to see.  However, I was very much tied to my family and the extended family and their needs.  Thoughts of Africa became a very distant memory and an almost forgotten one.  A place that I would see on television when it came time for public appeals for funds to assist drought stricken or poverty stricken places.  It seemed Africa was no  longer much on my mind.

It wasn't until much later that my dream of Africa came to life again. I can't explain exactly how it happened. Suffice to say it was a God thing. My latent dream of helping in Africa came back to life and I've never been more thrilled.  However, instead of going as a missionary who lives in Africa and raises funds to spread the gospel, I have a more modest calling.  One in which I've been involved for a few years now.  I've been helping widows and orphans in small villages in Kenya in various ways as God leads and provides. I've been to Kenya several times and have been able to help in a number of ways (food, education, medical, jiko stoves, planting).  Some of the work has been featured on this blog.

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to assist there and to assist directly those people who have needs.  I do work through pastors and lay leaders in the communities where I visit and through friends who are Christian.  My deepest desire is to "see" the aid reach the people who need it and to know that I am really making a difference in one person, or several persons' lives.

My God opened efforts have taught me too the real meaning of the biblical teachings on "giving" and "helping" the widows and the orphans. Scriptures like

"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
1 John 3:17 


 "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." 
James 1:27

Although I got a late start in life in missions to Kenya, I know that with God there are no limitations and there is no such thing as impossible.  Through God's grace I pray that He grants me many more years and ability to do what I can and perhaps even to inspire others to join me.

I had gone to this village in Kenya to see first hand the jiko stoves I had made for some of the village women. We decided to do a food distribution as these were widows and it was close to Christmas.  There were many more woman than I expected.

We had purchased food for several stops at different villages to meet with widows and orphans but this first stop required much of the food we brought. The male leaders said we should not distribute more than we intended but I could leave this first group of women without food.  At my request, the pastor kept going back to the car to bring more food.  Somehow God made enough for the other stops we had. Kind of like the loaves and fishes story.

Everyone is making their way to where food has been prepared. We were invited also but due to the inclement weather and needing to make several more stops before the day's end, we couldn't join in the feast.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with emotions when I think about where God brought me from and how much he has done for me. I can't even believe it myself sometimes. He has surely been with me all the days of my life.  I can't thank him enough for it.

I have burdens for others and sometimes those get overwhelming too.  It is those times when God lets me know that He is in charge and I need to trust in Him.

What are your dreams?

My blogging friend, Shanda Oakley has started a new meme called "On Your Heart Tuesdays" and this is the very first edition of it.  I do hope you've enjoyed my contribution and that you will join Shanda and others here in this new venture. Happy reading and sharing.

Christmas Plans for 2014

Hello friends,

I hope you've all been doing well and keeping warm.

Since I last posted here it has been cold with a light snow fall some of which remains on the floor of my patio. It is rather early for us to have snow. Normally we have rain at this time of year but in late Fall we've been having a lot of sunshine and cold weather. It warms up when the rains fall.

A typical Kenyan village hut.

I have been under the weather again. I seem to be under the weather a lot during our rainy season. I get very tired and my body seems to be "fighting" off  a cold all the time. At least this year I haven't felt cold indoors as I often do and I'm so grateful for that. I'm working on improving my circulation and I think it's working.  One big noticeable difference is that my lower limbs aren't numb and cold as they usually are (more about all this in a future post).

I'm gearing up for Christmas both here and for sending Christmas cheer to Kenyans.  I've been discussing my ideas with my friends as to what we can do for the people in one village near Kericho and for internally displaced peoples in a small IDP camp.

My friend said that for 500 shillings (about $6.50 Canadian), we can buy rice, cooking oil & flour so that the people can make chapati (a type of Indian flat bread). This is the normal diet of the villagers. The hard part is they cannot always afford to eat a meal each and every day.  There are approximately 50 families in this one church in the village that  I would like to help. Total - $350.

These village ladies were so happy with the food supply on one of my Kenyan visits.

It would be nice to add a bit more money ($50)  so that some candy or sweets and sodas can be purchased. My friends could then call all the villagers together after church or on another day and distributes the food to the villagers in one central location.  The extra funds will provide a bit of a party/celebration.  Whether I can host a small party like this remains to be seen. TOTAL $400.

Children everywhere love a small treat especially when it is rare.
I also want to give about 10,000 shillings (approximately $130 Canadian) to a woman name Grace. She looks after about 20 orphans on her family compound.  She does it out of the goodness of her heart through her own funds as well as on land she has donated.  She has enormous needs for food and a better  dwelling for the children.  I can't help with the dwelling but I can help a bit with food this Christmas.  The funds will cover  3-4 weeks of very basic food needs. TOTAL NEED $130.

When I got to Kenya there were so many women that wanted to meet. Before arriving in Kenya my friends in Kenya helped coordinate the building of new jiko stoves for each household.

Last, but not least, are the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs). They need many things.  My friend tells me that the ladies in particular need sanitary and hygiene products.  There is no water at the camp but there are latrines so disposable products need to be purchased.  These kinds of things are a real luxury for women and girls in so many Kenyan communities. Lack of such supplies affects girls and their education because they have to stay home at that time of the month. It also affects women who are often the sole economic providers for their families.  It will cost about $200 minimum to provide one or two month supplies for the girls and women in the camp.

This is one example of the difficult conditions of IDPs. It really is important to try and help them.

It would be good to provide the IDPs with a bit of food too. There are 28 families in the small IDP camp.  If we provide the same food as for the villagers, it will cost approximately $181.00. Canadian. It would also cost a modest sum to pay for fuel for those who will transport the goods to the camp ($13.00)  TOTAL $394.

The photo above shows the distribution to the IDP camp in Christmas 2013. You can see that some of them are so joyful.
I don't actually know if I can fund all the needs I've described but I would sure like to try.

I will simply ask each of you to pray for these needs to be met.

Some difficult decisions may need to be made about what can be funded and what can't. It is hard to make such decisions when you see the true needs that exist.

I'm hoping to an post a report here about the distributions once they are made. Timing for that will be closer to Christmas.

Decorations I made for mail exchange last year with Tammy in Texas.

In the meantime, I am preparing to visit my mom at Christmas and have a lot to do before then. Several family members will be joining me for the out of town journey. We expect to have a good time and my mother is looking forward to the visits.

Do any of you send cards anymore? I've cut way back. This year I'm not sure I'm organized enough to send cards on time.

My friend, her sister and I will attend one of the free showings of the Annual Singing Christmas Tree this year. This extremely popular concert is  performed by the good people of the Broadway Church in the city.


God bless you as you begin to prepare for your Christmas.

If anyone reading this wants to contribute to the needs I've described in Kenya, please let me know.

Stay safe and stay warm. 

Thoughts on Africa

Hi friends,

Lately, I've been hankering to go to Africa again. I haven't been there for what seems like ages.

Mainly it's because I've been helping this young man named Elvis to get a university degree. I'll be honest and say it has been a lot for me to take on in addition to all my other obligations.  But we are so close to the finish line. Elvis has one more term to go and then he is expected to finish his Diploma in Clinical Medicine & Surgery in Kisii, Kenya. His mother is a single parent of several children and though she works it is barely enough to put food on the table for Elvis' siblings.

Elvis as a teen

Someone who graduates with a diploma in Clinical Medicine & Surgery is the first clinician that a patient or client comes into contact with when they enter a health facility.  In some cases graduates of the program also manage and administer the health programs and hospitals, especially in rural areas.

Elvis just starting out as a university student.

Elvis in his lab coat.

I'm putting out a request to the universe through this blog to help Elvis to finish strong. If you can help contribute toward his living expenses of $100 (US) per month or his graduation fees itt would be a true blessing. 

For those that wonder whether your donations can make a difference, they really do. In this case you are not sending funds for food needs or clothing, you are actually helping someone finish training to get a job and to help others. Kenya really needs skilled workers and I hope soon that Elvis will be joining their ranks.

God bless you for any help you can provide. You can find a donate button at the top
right of this blog. Click on the "Go Fund Me" information.

I'm hoping that after Elvis graduates I might be able to save for a trip to Kenya once again.
I would love to do more to help the widows that I've been helping over the years with food and household needs like jiko stoves.

Thanks so much.
Have a wonderful weekend. 

Sponsoring Children in Africa

I often hear from people who would like to sponsor a child but just haven't taken the steps to do it. I like to talk about my experiences from time to time as a way to bring awareness to the need and also to help others who are thinking about child sponsorship.

About a month ago I wrote about my two new sponsored children in Zambia.

First up is Hiness who is 12 years old and in Grade 6.  Next is Lindunda who is 15 years old and in grade 7.
After sponsoring these two children, I felt led to help another one. His name is Humphrey and he is in Grade 2. I don't know his age yet.

These children go to school in Livingston, Zambia.
I have written my first letters to these precious young children and am excitedly waiting to hear back from them.  I've been spending a fair bit of time shopping for appropriate things to send to them every few months so that I can have them on hand for when I am ready to send them other letters.

All 3 of these children go to Christian School in Livingstone, Zambia. If you can help, the school needs many more sponsors for children. I have the link at the bottom of this post.

I also sponsor two boys in Kenya (Peter and John, who I've written about before).  I am also what is called a "correspondent sponsor" to a boy in Ethiopia named Haile.  Someone else whom I do not know, is his financial sponsor.  For whatever reason, the financial sponsor does not write to Haile and I have volunteered to write him and encourage him.

This is Haile in Ethiopis showing his development over the last 5 years or so. On the left is his most recent photo taken at age 21.

I've only been writing to Haile for 2 years.  He has been in the program for much longer than that.  Haile is 21 but only in Grade 8.  He suffers from epilepsy which makes it hard for him to really focus on his education.  In Africa many children have a late start in school.  Alternatively they have inconsistent school attendance due to lack of funds.  Families have a very hard time feeding their children and getting the money together for daily food must take priority to sending someone to school, especially when you factor in all the costs associated with education.  Even in Canada, so called "free" education comes with a huge financial burden for parents to pay for all the things that the schools cannot pay for. It is the same situation in Africa though the needs might be somewhat different.

Haile will be 22 years old in June and will no longer be able to continue in the child sponsorship program through Compassion Canada. I've been sending him a flurry of letters as we near his completion program.  I am trying to "pour into him" some scriptures and some encouragement as he transitions to life on his own.  Mostly I need to remember to pray for him as there is no way to contact him once he graduates or for he to contact me.  Hopefully the faith he has come to know through the program and some of the skills training he has received will help him in his future.  What I worry about besides the obvious things like food and shelter is about whether he will be able to seek medical help and continue to afford medications. I definitely need to keep him in prayer.

Compassion, has offices all around the world and many children who need a loving sponsor if you would like to sponsor a child through an established organization that can give you a charitable receipt.  It costs about
$ 38/41 (US/Canadian) dollars a month, plus the annual Christmas, birthday and family gifts to sponsor a child.  If you do not have funds, perhaps you could think about becoming a correspondent sponsor?

All children need to be encouraged, motivated, and inspired as well as held up in prayer support. You might be that one who can provide it to one special child through your cards and letters.  You can click here to reach the Compassion Canada page for sponsoring children. At the top of the page, you can select the country in which you would like to sponsor a child. If you are not Canadian, at the bottom of the page, you will find links to other country websites where there are Compassion offices.  If you want to be a correspondent sponsor, you can send an email to the appropriate office and let them know you are interested in writing to a child (see the Contact Us page at the website). It can take awhile to be matched up with a child in this situation but it is well worth the wait.

Don't forget too that there are many grassroots organizations in Africa that try to help their own. These ones do not have an organization in foreign lands to help them provide charitable tax receipts but they need your help nonetheless. When you give this way you can "cut out" the middle man and avoid most administration expenses although not entirely.  You can be assured that your funds are going to real needs on the ground.  There are no administration offices with their attendant costs so your help will go directly to those that are in dire need of support.  Even so those in the community that help to get the help to those that need it also have needs for food, shelter, travel and costs associated with delivering the particular help.

If you would like to help one or more of the Zambian children at the Christian School in Zambia, sponsorship is $11.50 a month. Please click here for more information.

Many of you will know that from time to time I go on self-funded missions to help the grassroots people in Kenyan villages.  This means helping people with many of their day to day needs and in diverse ways (food, clothing, school supplies, jiko stoves, seeds & fertilizer, medical needs, travel and costs associated with school and medical helps). It can be expensive especially in a country like Kenya.  But these people desperately need help.  If you wish to help in any way and in any amount, please do contact me at my email here or by leaving a comment.

May you and your family have a Blessed Easter Season and May God speak to your heart as you consider
what you can do to help a vulnerable family in Africa today.

Friday Sky Just Before Friday Sunrise & A Missions Report

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