Crocheting a Profit!

We are constantly amazed at  what God is doing in the Ministry of WFA. Through sacrificial giving of our donors, we were able to train 17 women this March of 2019. We gave loans to 10 women and the remaining 7 will receive their loans in May. 4 out of 10 were new and were ushered to WFA by Mary N. and Mary K. I collect many success stories each time I go for my mission trips. This January, I was privileged to see tremendous change in our women. Let me tell you about Regina first.

Regina is a young mother of 2. She is married and a devout Roman Catholic Christian. Regina is a high school graduate who has also taken a Secretarial course. After graduation, she got a job in the city, but the salary she was given was so little that she hardly had enough to eat.

Regina had to come up with a way of sustaining herself. She was always talented in making crocheted articles, selling some of her pieces to her fellow coworkers.  She soon realized that she could make decent money crocheting that would enable her to meet her essential needs. She quit her job in the city to pursue her crocheting passion. When she came to WFA, she already had a tiny stand at the marketplace. She was given our business training and given a loan of Ksh.10,000 (that’s $!00. Sounds like so much more in shillings, doesn’t it?)  She bought yarn and other raw materials and soon her small stand became so colorful. Regina by nature is a very hard working woman, crocheting every chance she gets. After her chores at home, she crotches until late at night. Her hard work has paid off. Her business expanded so much that she needed a more spacious place. She found a place in the city and when I (Rose) visited her I was amazed at how many colorful items she had displayed and the many customers it was attracting. The demands of her customers required Regina to recruit other women with similar passions for crocheting. She provides the new women with the materials they need, giving them instructions and compensating them for their work!

Regina hopes to expand her business in the very near future where she can have a larger space with even more women working for her. She has made profound progress in her leadership skills. She is leading women from her group in different ways: she is the group’s treasurer and she shares the Word of God to the other members as well. The leaders of WFA have recognized Regina’s leadership skills and soon she could be one of our liaisons.

Self sufficient women!!

 

It has become very important for the success of the Women of Faith Alliance endeavor for the women in Kenya to become more self sufficient.  Rose decided to share with the women in a meeting what she had in mind. In past trips she had always brought along a supply of LuoPads for distribution that friends and volunteers of Gain and WFA in America had assembled for the women.  This trip Rose brought along ready-cut LuoPad kits from Gain. Jemima had gathered some women who were willing to make them and their finished product was impressive! They were given the wooden patterns and discussed with each other where they could get the raw materials to make their own.  Even though plastic snaps were something that weren’t found, the women decided to use the metal sew-on snaps that they had.  Elizabeth, one of these partners, enjoyed making them and said that customers were asking if she made enough for them to buy. To show the hearts of these women, one even suggested that they make LuoPads to give  to the female inmates.  This development is very exciting.   Do you have some ideas for small businesses these women might feel called to?  Send a message to Rose and share your thoughts.

Another exciting development with these business-minded women was the way they took to setting up savings accounts. Thank you Lord! Watch for that development in the next Journal entry.  

Help me, we have no food!

WFA Distributes Food to Families Facing Hunger in Kenya

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these…,you did it to me.” Matthew: 25:37-40—ESV

Even before the coronavirus pandemic swept the world, forcing many countries into lockdowns and extreme social distancing measures, poor countries such as Kenya in East Africa were already facing a precarious hunger situation. Per the 2019 Global Hunger Index (GHI)
report, one in every three Kenyans (14.5 million) suffers from chronic food insecurity and poor nutrition annually. High poverty levels, persistent drought and then in the last year, an invasion of locusts has pushed Kenya’s food crisis to even higher critical levels. Today, nearly 30 percent of people in Kenya are going without food on a regular basis.

For the women participating in the Women of Faith (WFA) Microfinance Ministry in Kenya, the hunger situation is even more dire. All 35 women currently active in the ministry literally live from hand to mouth. In order to feed their children, these women must go out and tend to their small businesses every single day. The earnings they gather at the end of the day,
are then used to buy food for their families and replenish supplies for their businesses to sell the next day. A day without work, means that the family will not eat that night.

Therefore, when Kenya instituted its mandatory coronavirus lockdown on March 28, 2020, Rose Mugwe, Founder and Executive Director of WFA, knew that the women participating in the WFA ministry were facing an immediate food crisis and imminent starvation, if nothing were done.
As Rose explains:
“I myself was a victim of the famine in Kenya in 1984 when millions in East Africa died. I remember waiting in long lines for government food rations and being given a small portion of dry corn to feed my family. At the time, I had four children and they had to eat. Each day, I would line up for the food rations and many times I would sleep hungry, so that my children
would have something to eat. Even though I only fed them corn and not a balanced diet, it was better than an empty stomach and they would survive. Therefore, I know hunger on a very personal basis and I fully understand what the WFA women are facing at this time.”

With this experience in mind, Rose mobilized the WFA Board, her friends and neighbors in Pennsylvania and launched the WFA Food Pantry on April 11, 2020 to provide much needed food supplies to the WFA women facing imminent hunger in Kenya. Remembering her experience of only getting dry corn to feed her family, Rose determined that the WFA Pantry
would provide a balanced food basket to the WFA women. Thanks to the generous donations of many partners and friends, WFA has raised about $3,500 so far and distributed more than 100 food baskets to WFA partners in Nakuru, Kenya. 35 of the beneficiaries are actively involved in
WFA and the rest are women from the surrounding WFA community in Nakuru, who are also experiencing hunger as a result of the lockdown and curfew imposed by the government. Each food basket distributed contains the following basic food necessities:

8 pounds of cornmeal, 8 pounds wheat flour, 4 pounds of rice, 4 pounds beans, 4 pounds of dry corn, 4 pounds of lentils, 4 pounds sugar, 2 liters of cooking oil, one packet of tea leaves and one bar soap for bathing and washing clothes.

The cost to fill one food basket is $20 or Kenya shillings 2,000. As of May 2, 2020, WFA has distributed 117 food baskets at a cost of $2,340. The Kenya government announced on May 1, 2020 that it was extending its coronavirus lockdown for another three weeks. Consequently, the need to continue to the WFA food distribution throughout the lockdown period and even for a few months after the lockdown continues to be necessary. Beyond the lockdown, it will take the WFA women several months to re-establish their small businesses again. Therefore, WFA is committed to the food distribution program to make sure the WFA women and their families do not go hungry.

Please consider donating. Any contribution is welcomed and goes a long way to providing basic food necessities for poor women in Kenya, many of whom are affiliated to the WFA Ministry.

***To donate with Credit Card/PayPal please visit:  https://womenoffaithalliance.com/
• To donate by check: make payable to Women of Faith Alliance with memo “WFA Pantry”, 152 Martin’s Corner, Coatesville, PA 19320
• To donate via $CashApp: Send to Rose Munge at 610-679-0508
• To donate via Zelle send to Rose Munge
• To donate via Venmo: Please send to Dana Parker at @parkerdana

Rose is faced with challenges and victories – day two.

whoweareAfter a good night’s sleep, Rose couldn’t wait to meet with her liaisons.  Her first  meetings for the day began with the reports of the three liaisons, Jemima, Mary Njogu, and Mary Kagunda.  A lot of responsibility for the success of the WFA mission of giving loans of hope rests on the shoulders of these liaisons and their ability to unite, encourage and have meetings with their partners. The women who have received loans and training in business have all signed promises to repay their initial loans and attend regular meetings. Six of the partners had paid their loans in full and were patiently waiting to receive their next loans.  Rose held a meeting inviting them and 4 new partners newly trained who all received their loans for 2019.

Jemima reported no problem with meetings and her partners were honoring their scheduled loan repayments.

Mary Njogu’s partners were struggling with attending regular meetings but some paid up their balances when they heard Rose was coming.

Mary Kagunda got new partners to replenish the groups to five partners each   

Rose held another meeting where she invited the partners who had received loans but hadn’t honored their pledges.  Rose reminded them of the forms they had signed years ago and told them what was expected of them. The partners were remorseful and admitted that they had neglected going to the meetings where they would have been held accountable and receive encouragement from others. The rest of the day ended with great worship, singing songs and sharing.  One woman said that she will be a guest of honor at a fundraiser that will be held to raise money for the High School fees for the two children of Beatrice, a widow and partner of WFA. This testimony moved Beatrice to tears as she couldn’t stop sobbing and praising God.

We praise God along with Beatrice and Rose as we get a taste of the spiritual and emotional transformation that is going on through Women of Faith.  It’s so much more than just loans and business transactions. It’s hope through Christ in a life changing way.

Rose’s trip to Kenya, 2019

Main house from the gate 2

Rose made a return trip to Kenya on January 6, 2019 to encourage, train and bless her leaders and partners in the ministry over there. She traveled the 19 hours with the Spirit as her travel companion, arriving late at night on January 6.  Her family and driver let her sleep the rest of the night hours with them and then traveled the trip to the WFA house in the morning. Jemima, one of the 3 liaisons, had prepared for Rose’s arrival and had the house all clean and everything in place.  What a blessing this house/office  has been to WFA, serving as sleeping quarters for guests, an apartment for property caretakers, an office and a large room that serves for classes and meetings. After a whirlwind day of meeting with the leaders, Rose happily closed her eyes to sleep in “the WFA house” with a prayer of thanksgiving to God, her protector, provider and reason for living. 

 

Mary Kagunda

Mary is a single mother of one, who lost both parents in the years 2005 and 2007 consequently. She was the third of four girls. The older two sisters were married before their parents’ deaths. Mary was left to care for her youngest sister. Though she had finished high school, she was not employed. When she came to us, Mary had a stock of clothes in a plastic bag where she walked around selling them in the neighborhood.

When she received her first loan, she bought and kept chickens. She was able to sell two trays of eggs every week. She said that her life changed and they were able to put food on the table without strain. Mary continued saving money from the eggs until she had enough to buy a sheep. The sheep she purchased was pregnant and she gave birth to a female sheep. Mary still has chickens and sheep but with the loan she received after the business course, she plans to start selling cosmetic products. She hopes to grow her business to a point where she can employ not only her sister but her neighbors as well.

Lucy Nyaruiru

Lucy is married with a large family. Both Lucy and her husband are Christians and very hardworking but they are unemployed. They live in a one-bedroom apartment and their chickens live in the patio area.  They depend on working in other people’s homes or fields. With her first loan, Lucy kept range chickens, which helped to meet their basic needs. Though she struggled, she was able to pay back her loan. Lucy still has her chickens and she sells 2 trays of eggs every week. With her new loan, she plans to sell second-hand clothing. She hopes to start with few clothes and grow her business, to a point where she can employ her family members.

Beattrice Nyawira

Beatrice was widowed at an early age. Her husband left her with nothing to live on. Being a committed Christian, Beatrice learned to trust in God at an early age of her widowhood. She states that God became her only source of help. She was unable to complete High School, so finding employment was difficult, yet she had to make ends meet for both her children and herself. She has three children ages 10-14 years old. She has been selling vegetables since she came to us in 2014. With her new loan, she plans to start growing vegetables of different kinds. She rented a property that has water she can use to irrigate her crops. Beatrice hopes, by adding a variety of vegetables, she can increase her profits and get a faster return.​