Partnership

Part of my job here in Nairobi with New Hope Initiative is to host visitors and show them the work we support in East Africa. This week, I have had the best time with two dear friends that I have known for over 10 years. John and Dan are pastors from the Washington, DC area and have recently planted a church in Arlington, VA, Restoration City Church. I am very excited about the ministry the Lord has given these men in DC, and I’m also looking forward to the partnership we are starting between Restoration and New Hope Initiative.

It’s a quick trip, but John and Dan are visiting our projects in Kibera and even leading a few trainings for our staff. We are also making a quick trip to Arusha (today) to visit our ministry there. John will get an opportunity to teach Bible study to the local church. Please pray for our partnership with this new church in DC. We believe God has great things in store!

John and Dan spoke to our academy staff about leadership, time management and evangelism.

John and Dan spoke to our academy staff about leadership, time management and evangelism.

Rainy season has arrived! John and Dan got to experience Kibera in the mud!

Rainy season has arrived! John and Dan got to experience Kibera in the mud!

Training Leaders in Tanzania

This week, I have had the privilege to spend time with our ministry partners in Arusha, Tanzania. What an amazing work happening here! The ministry here is a wonderful example of how to do community development based out of the local church. After planting the church over 10 years ago, Vernon and Mary Smith along with their local leaders and ministry team, have started a primary school and community clinic. The school and clinic serve the immediate community around them, but people also come from all over Arusha to attend the school and receive medical care from the clinic. It has been a real privilege to work with the leaders here and be a small part of their ministry.

I’ve been facilitating a leadership development workshop with the teachers of the school. Most of the training has been on personal leadership skills and working as a team. The teachers here are dedicated and care deeply about their students. They are bright and are learning to work together to accomplish the mission of the school, which is to educate the next generation of leaders in Tanzania.

Leading a leadership training for the school staff.

Leading a training for the school staff.

No trip to Arusha is complete without a stop at Khan's - auto parts store by day, chicken on the bonnet by night. Here we are with Mr. Khan.

No trip to Arusha is complete without a stop at Khan’s BBQ – auto parts store by day, chicken on the bonnet by night. Here we are with Mr. Khan.

My Favorite Seamstress

Scola

Continuing my series of leadership interviews, I decided to sit down with Scolastica Mbula to talk about her history with New Hope Initiative and get her thoughts on leadership. Scola (as we call her) is the Co-Director of our business co-op, Project Biashara. In her role as Co-Director, she oversees the business functions of the project i.e. payroll, daily operations. She also leads our seamstresses. I have enjoyed working with Scola. She is dependable, honest and hard-working. I can always count on Scola.

Q: How long have you been involved with New Hope and how were you first involved?

I have been involved with New Hope since 2009 when Project Biashara was started by Karen. At the time, I had my own business selling vegetables and other merchandize in Kibera. When Karen started the project she helped us by giving us all loans to start and invest in our businesses and training us in business practices to help us be successful. She also helped me purchase my first sewing machine. I was skilled in sewing and thought I could make a living doing that but did not have a machine. With the help of Project Biashara, I could turn my business into a tailoring business.

Q: Tell us about your family.

I am married and have 4 children, ages 16, 14, 12, & 6. We all live together in Kibera – the Sri Langa area. I’ve lived in Kibera since 1996.

Q: What do you like most about working for Project Biashara?

Interacting with the women; getting to know each other; doing our work together.

Q: How did you become a seamstress?

In early 1996, I went to Polytechnic College and took a tailoring class to learn to sew. I ran my own tailoring business for a while. Then, Project Biashara became a co-op, and we now make orders such as bags, scarves, table runners and napkins for women in the US.

Q: How do you define leadership?

A leader comes from the Lord. As a leader you have to be an example to others. A leader  is somebody who knows God and is willing to serve others.

Q: Who has been the most influential leader in your life and why?

Karen, because of her love and care for everyone around her. And, she’s good.

Lauren because of the way she leads us and does her work. Someone can learn from her.

Q: What are your hopes and dreams for Project Biashara?

My dream is seeing Project Biashara open many branches in other slum areas of Nairobi. Something like the project here. So, more women can be helped.

Q: Anything else you want to tell my blog readers?

Just want to thank the people who stand with Project Biashara. Your help and work is not in vain. God sees everything you do. When you stand with us, God will stand with you. Never cease giving to needy people. We are learning from Lauren and soon will be helping others as you have helped us.

Scola took a computer class last summer paid for by Project Biashara and learned Excel. Here she is working on April payroll.

Scola took a computer class last summer paid for by Project Biashara and learned Excel. Here she is working on April payroll.

“It’s getting better.”

Yesterday, I had a unique experience with a Kenyan. I had gone to a local mall to purchase a power cord for my computer – we had a major power surge at our house last week that ruined all the power cords in the house that were plugged into outlets. Thankfully, that was the worst of the damage. As I was spending way too much money for a power cord (you’d be surprised how expensive electronics are in Kenya), I was also having a conversation with the employees there about the recent attack in Garissa. We all shook our heads in disbelief and disgust at the tragic events that resulted in the loss of 147 young, bright Kenyans. But, what surprised me was the next comment one of the salesmen made. He said, “but things are getting better.” This man exhibited hope in his country and fellow Kenyans.
Now, Kenyans have a tendency to be down on their government (for some good reasons), and they like to share conspiracy theories and complain about the corruption. This man did none of that. This man highlighted the fact that the military response team arrived faster than after the Westgate attack and immediately defused the situation. “It’s getting better” he said.
I think this man’s comments are a better representation of Kenya than what the world may currently believe. In my opinion, Kenya is changing. Kenya is progressing. And, when it comes to fighting terrorists, the leaders are responding and, better yet, they are being proactive. The people of Kenya are coming together and supporting one another. Kenyans are taking a stand against the terrorists, and they are putting pressure on their government to make the country more secure. Do they still have a long way to go? Absolutely. My point is that I am seeing hope in the Kenyan people and positive change in the government.
I want to point you to an article that I’ve read recently that also articulates the positive changes and hope that Kenyans have for their future.
Personally, I feel safe. I want to encourage people from around the world to come to Kenya. Visit. Come see the beauty of this country. From the  plains of Masai Mara to the heights of Mt Kenya and the beaches along the Indian Ocean, Kenya is beautiful. The people are bright, hard-working and friendly. Also, pray. Pray for the leaders, pray for the Kenyan people and pray for those who lost their loved ones last week.
Terrorists can attack anywhere. Standing in the US Capitol just 4 miles away, I was closer to the Pentagon when it was hit by a jetliner in 2001 than I was to Garissa last week. And, I will do today what I did then. Stay. Live my life.
Enjoying the Kenyan coast on a recent beach weekend with friends.

Enjoying the Kenyan coast on a recent beach weekend with friends.

Just a Week

Since returning from my adventure on Kili, my life in Nairobi has been busy! I had hoped to do another interview for the blog with one of our leaders, but I haven’t had the chance. So, I thought I’d share a little about the past week and a half.
Things are moving along quite well at our projects in Kibera. Robert Elrod, a medical student from Nashville, started interning with our health clinic last week. He and Nurse Olive have completed basic health assessments on all of our primary school students. He has already been a huge help, and I’m excited to see the progress we make this month in the clinic.
It's nice to have a registered nurse and medical student running our clinic. I would have sent this kid for surgery based on his crying after he fell in the playground.

It’s nice to have a registered nurse and medical student running our clinic. I would have sent this kid for surgery based on his crying after he fell in the playground. Obviously, from the photo, he was fine.

Our primary school completed term 1 with end of term exams and celebrated today with the closing ceremony. Students are out of school for April, and we will be doing professional development for teachers and tutoring for class 8. Today at our closing ceremony, we encouraged the students to continue in their studies and have a Happy Easter! We had a great turnout for the parents meeting today and continue to be encouraged by our parents and their involvement in the school and students’ education.
The kids listen during closing ceremony for Term 1.

The kids listen during closing ceremony for Term 1.

Some of my favorite times every week are during the teachers daily prayer and praise time after the kids are dismissed.

Some of my favorite times every week are during the teachers daily prayer and praise time after the kids are dismissed.

Also, my friend, Ava Darnell, owner of Slumlove Sweater Company was in town for a visit. We had many great laughs together and got a lot accomplished for her company. We met with some potential new suppliers and had the opportunity to connect with other business owners in Kenya who are striving to run ethical, fair trade companies that benefit their employees and customers. We also found a market full of great products made by Kenyan artisans!
Ava is so talented. Here are some of our drawings for her fall collection. Photo credits to Ava Darnell.

Ava is so talented. Here are some of her drawings for Slumlove’s fall collection. Photo credits to Ava Darnell.

Lastly, on a more personal note…I found out this week that I’ll be having another niece! Can’t wait to start shopping!
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After a busy couple of weeks, I’m ready for our Easter trip to the beach! Looking forward to spending some time on the Kenyan coast this weekend with great friends.