Country: Kenya

‘I will make it better’; Sifa’s Decision to Start a Business Changes Everything

Sifa felt trapped. Weighed down with responsibilities and limitations, she didn’t know what to do to lift her family out of poverty. Her four children were undernourished, but the local community discouraged women from contributing to their families by making an income.

“There is nothing more we could do or change,” Sifa said. “I wished for so many things that were just a fairy tale at the time.”

Things changed after Sifa discovered Convoy of Hope’s Women’s Empowerment initiative.

“I was surprised at how blinded I was! I didn’t know that I could be anything I wanted to be, change my husband’s perception, help my family to be better, and see beyond. After my first class, I got out of there with one thing in my mind: I will make it better.”

She did. And Convoy of Hope was with her every step of the way.

Sifa started her own business selling Maasai blankets. She quickly made enough profit to start another business, this time selling sugar. Then those two businesses did so well that she started selling rice.

“I manage all this because Convoy of Hope didn’t just train us, they go with us all the way,” Sifa said. “I couldn’t afford to buy my children new clothes. Now, I can even buy gifts for my husband and I can afford clothes and shoes for my kids. My husband became supportive, understanding, loving.”

Sifa now plans to buy a sewing machine so she can make her own custom merchandise and sell it at a better price. She’s feeding her children herself, her marriage is better, and her community has even started to change because of the example she is setting.

That’s the power of hope. Thank you for the part you play in empowering women like Sifa.

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Program Updates / Women's Empowerment

After Years of drought, Kenyan Villages have Clean Water

The music was blaring, people were singing and dancing, and smiles were abundant. It was a fitting celebration for this Kenyan village, which for the first time in years, has a source of clean water.

Throughout Kenya, similar celebrations ensued where Convoy of Hope drilled boreholes — similar to wells — and installed systems that hold up to 6 million gallons of water. For many, these celebrations mark the end of a dark era, one that began in 2016 during severe drought.

“The cycle of drought in Kenya has been getting tighter and tighter through the years,” Chris Dudley, Convoy of Hope’s Stabilization & Humanitarian Intervention Director, said. “Drought used to happen once every 10 or 15 years, but now it’s happening every few years.”

In recent years, Kenyan families have watched their cattle wither away. For these people, lack of water meant no irrigation, no viability for livestock, and no way to provide for their families.

“Shortly after [one catchment system] was built, there were several days of rain that almost filled it,” Chris said. “This water was used for several months to help keep livestock alive and to irrigate small farms. For many pastoralist communities, their livestock is their currency, so helping keep [them] alive is huge.”

Like water, hope changes shape from time to time. Both are vital. For people affected by the drought in Kenya, hope comes in the form of a sustainable water source and is provided as a direct result of support from people like you.

While this crisis persists, we will continue to provide help and hope to people in need. To join us in our mission, click here.

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Agriculture / Field Story

Multiplying Hope

YOUR KINDNESS IS CHANGING LIVES

Chege ran with desperation in his eyes. Sweat poured down the 8-year-old boy’s face as he took in another panicky, dust-filled breath. He sprinted through fields of brittle grass and down the winding roads that surrounded his Kenyan neighborhood. He had to find help. 

His mother was dying.

The night before, his father — an abusive, violent alcoholic — had beaten Chege’s mother during a drunken rage.

The next morning, she called to Chege, saying, “I want you to run and find your father, because I feel like I’m going to die.” 

The boy ran as fast as he could, but his mother passed before they returned. Chege thought his future died with his mother. But, his life was far from over. Chege was enrolled in a school where Convoy of Hope fed hungry children like him. It was there that he also received his first pair of shoes. 

He started studying diligently, and his teachers began to see a difference in his performance. With a nutritious meal in his stomach and determination in his soul, he advanced three grade levels in one year. 

Eventually, he finished school and was accepted into university to study chemistry. 

Today Chege finds time to tutor students in the school he attended as a child — the same place where Convoy of Hope still feeds children every school day. “I’m telling them they are valuable,” he says. “I tell them I was like them. Hungry in my body and in my mind, and people like Convoy of Hope came along and fed me. And now, because of them, I will never be the same. I will accomplish my vision. And nothing can stop me.” 

That’s what we call “hope multiplied.” From the outskirts of a Kenyan village to major metropolitan cities within the U.S., Convoy of Hope is partnering with schools, churches, community groups, and friends to spread hope to people who just need to know someone cares.

CHICAGO KINDNESS 

More than 20 years ago, Convoy of Hope began conducting Community Events in Chicago, Illinois. Year after year, we brought together churches, businesses, and civic organizations to reach out to thousands of honored guests in these communities. With the assistance of more than 1,000 volunteers at each event, we returned each year with groceries, job fairs, medical and dental services, children’s shoes, and more — all of which was free of charge to guests. Local authorities and law enforcement said they saw a tangible difference in the communities because of the kindness shown. 

Through Community Events held in 2015, 2016, and 2018, we served 28,193 Guests of Honor living in the Chicago area. “Lives have been changed because of the generosity of your partners and the diligence of the workers,” says one Chicago pastor. 

When COVID-19 threatened to cancel the 2020 Chicago Community Event altogether, the large-scale gathering was in jeopardy. But the community was determined to make it happen. They knew what it would do for children and families in need. Through a Disaster Services model — where food and services are distributed safely — more than 5,000 families were still served. Despite the pandemic and all the obstacles it brought that day, hope was multiplied.

“Each day, Convoy of Hope’s friends and partners make sacrifices so others can receive real help and lasting hope,” says Hal Donaldson, Convoy of Hope’s President. “From our Children’s Feeding programs, to the job training initiatives for women, to water and agriculture initiatives for farmers, to Community Events and our disaster relief efforts, people are having their hope restored and multiplied.”

This story was first published in Convoy of Hope’s Hope Quarterly magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.

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Empowered Girls Keep Good Company

Part of life for many people living in Nairobi’s urban neighborhoods is fetching water. Often, there is a single standpipe for dozens of families where people line up with their jerrycans.

Julie is 12 years old. For her, that daily chore makes life harder. “When you go to fetch water, there are people who sit around and abuse others,” she says.

Fortunately, Julie is part of Convoy of Hope’s Girls’ Empowerment program, which helps girls learn about life skills and nutrition so that they can thrive. On a recent Thursday afternoon, the classroom erupted in cheer when the Convoy of Hope teacher, Favour, entered. It was a large room split in two by a paperboard partition — the sixth graders faced west and the fourth graders faced east. Favour led the older students in a game that had them howling with laughter. Then, they reviewed what they’d learned from the previous session on time management: Have a timetable. Avoid the bed and sofa because they make you lazy. Make deadlines. Don’t let work pile up. Set goals.

The lessons from the program help students like Julie cope with difficult environments. While she lives with both parents in a safe apartment building and goes to a good school, her environment still can be tough. She says something she has learned from Girls’ Empowerment is the importance of keeping good company and avoiding bad company. This is a helpful lesson at the standpipe, at school, and everywhere else she might go in life.

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