News Archives

United Methodist sends help to home village in Kenya

 


United Methodist sends help to home village in Kenya

May 11, 2005

A UMNS Report
By Kelly Martini*

In the Mulathankari village in Meru district of Kenya, young people attend school but then leave for the cities where they can find jobs and other opportunities.

But the city is not home. And when they contract HIV/AIDS, they come back with their children to die.

Anne Kiome Gatobu, a member of Lodgepole United Methodist Women in the denomination’s Nebraska Annual (regional) Conference, realized the significance of this when she returned to her home village for the funeral of a brother who had died of meningitis.

More than her brother’s death, she said, she was most affected by the number of orphans left by HIV/AIDS and the number of grandparents who care for them.

Gatobu asked Kenyan women and the church there what she could do. Giving them educational opportunities to move them from poverty and disease was their greatest hope, she was told.

She began an organization called named FOWCUS (Focusing on Women and Children to Uplift Society). The board of FOWCUS comprises both American and Kenyan Christians. United Methodist Women and churches from the Nebraska and Rocky Mountain conferences are working to make the program a success.

Public school students in Kenya must provide their own uniforms, chalk, books, and classroom supplies. The organization’s adopt-a-kid initiative ensures that people in the United States and Kenya can adopt a child educationally for $120 a year.

A local women’s group in Mulathankari is responsible for the disbursement of funds throughout the year. The women had been putting their money together in a "kitty" for years, according to Gatobu.

"I approached this group and asked them to do something for these children," she said. "This is the group who identifies the children who are high in need and who distributes the money."

The women also are breaking cultural barriers by visiting those who are dying from

HIV/AIDS. "This is the most touching thing that has happened to many of them in their life—that someone actually comes and visits them—when the rest of the community has ostracized them," she added.

"Since the women have done this, there has been so much forgiveness. It has challenged the community to start thinking about what we are going to do about AIDS and the children who have been left and what are we going to do about the elderly grandparents who can’t take care of the family. It’s opened a milieu of questions that they need to be addressing."

Meanwhile, in the United States, Gatobu is educating church members and United Methodist Women about the disease and its effects on one small African village.

The biggest support has come from United Methodist Women in the Nebraska and Rocky Mountain conferences. The UMW members have made children’s hospital gowns and quilts, collected boxes of books for school and accumulated tools for construction. They’ve also adopted children to put them through public school.

"It’s had a ripple affect," Gatobu said. "A number have asked me to speak to their groups and Sunday services. Someone else hears about it, and they ask you."

Last summer, she and her husband organized a mission and cultural exchange team to Kenya with participants from Nebraska and Rocky Mountains Conference.

"The group visited and fellowshipped with the orphans and their families and raised funds for the children in this project," she recalled. "The group also worked on establishing a reading room for children in the village. They built shelves and collected and sent over 700 pounds of children’s books for the reading room. They also ran an open-air health clinic in this village."

Providing such opportunities for children in her home village of Kenya was not without questions and Gatobu is the first to admit that there’s much to be done to keep an

organization like this running year after year.

"I could not envision where I would begin to make a difference in the face of so much need," she said. "I have since learned that when God asks one to take on a task, just say ‘yes’ and give yourself to God."

*Martini is the executive secretary for communications for the Women’s Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

First Name:*
Last Name:*
Email:*
ZIP/Postal Code:*
Question:*

*InfoServ ( about ) is a service of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW


Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add InfoServ@umcom.org to your list of approved senders.