Today was another busy day. This morning we attended the Kiswahili service at the Kenya Methodist Church in Maua. The service started at 10 and ended about 12:20, but there was lots of dancing and singing, so the time passed quickly. Although we couldn’t always understand what was being said, the Lord’s prayer and the creed were recognizable. They also switched back and forth between English and Kiswahili, and projected slides in English so we weren’t always in the dark.
After the service the Chairman and Deputy Chairman invited us for tea and conversation where they thanked us for visiting their church.
When we returned to our hotel, we ate lunch out in the garden and then had a chance to shop with ZOE graduate seamstresses. Afterwards we heard stories from other ZOE graduates:
Doreen has three siblings. She has a hair salon and with profits from the salon, she bought goats. She has now expanded her business to three employees and sells braids in her shop. She has trained five ZOE children and countless others in her community. She chose hair styling as a business because she had a passion for the work and there was a good market in her community. Her vision is to work hard and to help her sister, who is currently in 6th grade through high school.
John (25) takes care of six siblings. Before ZOE he worked on Mira farms to earn money to feed his family. In ZOE he was trained in barbering. From his profits, he added selling paraffin to to his business. Now his family eats a balanced diet and all of his siblings are in school. One is in 9th grade. When he graduates from high school, John will organize a fundraiser for him to go to college. When he has trouble with his siblings, he calls the mentor from his group who talks to them because she is still his “mother.” He now is employed as a Coca Cola distributor. He has also been able to return to school and is now in his last semester of college majoring in community development and social work. His vision is to work for an NGO or the government. His group’s project is a maize farm and plantain and they still work the farm together. The crop was not good this year because of lack of rain. With his profits he wants to buy another piece of land. His house was too small for his family so he has built a larger, more comfortable house. He speaks English well.
Agnes (25) had many problems before ZOE. She worked as a housemaid for several homes for $15 a month but sometimes wasn’t paid. When she joined ZOE, she opened a salon. She has sent her siblings back to school. They are 10, 14 and 18. She bought a cow. She works alone because her salon is in her village, so there’s not enough business to expand. When she can open a salon in the shopping area of town, she will have more customers. For now, she plans to open a kiosk next to her salon to expand her business.
Jackson (18) has five siblings. Before ZOE every day he would walk around the village looking for casual labor. With ZOE he began raising goats. With the profits from selling the goats, he bought chickens and then rabbits. Now he raises all three to sell. He has sent his siblings back to school, and he has returned to school as well and is now in the 11th grade. He says that ZOE has allowed him to dream again and that his program facilitators, Purity and Agnes, have inspired him. Before he had to go to a neighbor’s house to study. Now he has a nice house where he and his siblings can study. And they have a latrine. He plans to go to college. His dream is to be a bridge between the community and development opportunities. He also wants to mentor to children in his village.
Doris (21) has three siblings in seventh and ninth grades. She is a seamstress and makes $3 on a good day and $0.50 on a slow day. She would like to open a second store and employ others.
Martin (26) has three siblings. One finished 8th grade. And two are in primary school. Before ZOE he worked on others’ farms and digging. Now he is a barber and doing well. Additionally he has a phone charging and battery charging center. He wants to expand his businesses. He has trained community people in barbering but has not yet had an opportunity to train ZOE kids. He has bought four goats and one cow. He had to drop out of school in the fifth grade so he doesn’t speak English but does understand some.