This is the post excerpt.
In the Kenyan rural villages we connect with, life was very tough before covid struck. Life was tough before the locusts came, and the floods…….but now covid as well. The Bungoma area, where we work with Pastor Nicholas, has been designated by the Government as one of the Covid hotspots. I wish I could report that the vaccination programme was going well, but the truth is it isn’t… not yet anyway.
One of the main issues for the people in the villages is the huge price increase on all foods but especially the staples….. maize, wheat, rice and Irish (potatoes). There are about 12 million people in Kenya who are food poor. These are people whose income doesn’t allow them to eat enough calories to maintain a healthy lifestyle, about two-thirds of these individuals live in the rural areas. Strangely the wheat, rice and potatoes are largely imported, but the maize is home grown.
So the challenge is to help/teach the villagers to diversify the crops, but to do this they need help to reduce reliance on rainfed agricultural systems, and to plant modern varieties, thereby building resilience against the effects of climate change, and improve agricultural market systems and infrastructure.
The coronavirus outbreak has hugely added to the challenge because markets have been closed, and the delivery of food has been disrupted. Kenya’s food system is heavily dominated by small, independent transporters as the link between producers and consumers and small retailers. This traditional informal system accounts for about 90% of the market.
Middle class people have been able to continue to shop in the supermarkets which have remained open, but for our poor guys in the rural villages shopping in a supermarket is out of the question. If the market is closed they can’t sell or buy. At PottersHeart we have been able to send out financial help to buy maize and beans, to feed some of the families we are working with…….but we know this is not the long term answer.
Looking ahead the question of food security has to be addressed, how can we/you help…… If anyone reading this has any ideas/comments/expertise please contact us, we would love to hear from you.
In this months wonderful Tearfund Footsteps, they posed a challenge to excite people about the work you do, by speaking it out for no more than 2 minutes.
I tried to do it in Church this week (it’s not easy in 2 minutes), and I set the challenge to The PottersHeart Trustees. Janet came back with this and I thought I would share it with you:
PottersHeart in two minutes.
Try imagining, after a long journey, a dusty and remote village where a group of men and women are sat on the ground waiting for you. The look of despair and the villagers’ demeanour emphasises their plight – hope shackled by a world that doesn’t seem to care. This was our initial visit to Dagara, and it broke our hearts. A disparate group of people, displaced from their different villages, then brought together by the government on land with poor growing soil and without water. Where was their hope for the future?
Working with people, desperate to improve their life circumstances is such a privilege. The joy of seeing smiles on faces when once there was despair is immeasurable. But this is also empowerment, helping individuals gain the skills to restore hope and dignity. This restoration is possible because of the villagers’ willingness to share their lives and partner with PottersHeart in finding solutions to their hardships and build a new tomorrow.
PottersHeart provides adult education for some of the poorest of the poor in Kenya. Working in the villages we enable students to grow personally, and collectively, to realise their potential. Communicating and empathising are crucial as we talk together finding out what the hurdles are to improving their lives. With this shared knowledge, we jointly begin helping them find their way out of poverty and share the joy of their growth and fulfilment. Together we find solutions which are sustainable and provide long term answers. Once connected with a village, PottersHeart aims to visit and provide education at least five separate occasions over two-three years.
As we kept returning to Dagara we could see that the group was becoming a community with its members beginning to work together. They decided to call themselves PottersHeart Dagara – this really touched our hearts. Moving forward, they have instigated a trial growing soya beans – something they had not thought of before our partnership. The trial has been a great success. We truly believe that this team will go far and replicate this success through the teaching of others.
So, what does PottersHeart do? We sow seeds that empower others, enabling those whom we teach to bless communities by reaching out to other villages. What they have learned will not be kept to themselves but will enhance the lives of many as they become self-sufficient aspiring to greater things.
Thank you Janet x
Ok so we are not denying things are very, very tough in Kenya at the moment…… but we must celebrate the good things that are happening too. Last time we were there, in March just before our lockdown, this amazing group of people, decided to form a team called ‘PottersHeart Dgara Community Teaching Team’. We’ve been there three times now, it is one of the poorest areas we work in. These folk were resettled by the government several years ago, the land very different from their homeland, is dry and sandy. Inhospitable for building their traditional mud and straw huts, and not the best for growing, especially as they have no water nearby at all. There are five tribes both resettled and indigenous in this area, and when we first arrived they were always fighting, stealing and generally preventing any progress in any family. We did a Liebust session with them, and witnessed such forgiveness and breakthrough, and although life is still very tough there is breakthrough.
One of the problems is very poor nutrition, children especially showing all the classic signs of malnutrition. We did a lot of teaching on this, trying to help them think outside the box as to what they could grow. Soya bean does grow in this area, but none of them had ever given it a go, they had never been taught about the protein in this bean, or how good mashed soya bean is when weaning babies. This group listened and learnt well, but then comes the exciting bit. When we left they kept meeting together, sharing what they had learned with many others in the village. Because the soya bean idea was completely new to them all, they decided to grow a trial patch, proving to others it would work. In the photo we can see them all weeding the patch, and we can see how strong the plants look. This is just one piece of gold amongst the teaching, that will change and transform lives. It has released potential in people who had no hope, they have discovered that they can and will find their own solutions. Let’s keep praying that this crop is the first of many that grow strong and fruitful.
This photo might not look very exciting to you, but believe me this is huge! After many years of waiting we are going to be able to start teaching and training in these villages, without flying anywhere. Especially useful in these trying and restrictive times. I know it doesn’t replace personal contact, but it is nevertheless a very powerful tool. We have had the vision but have been waiting for technology to catch up in these places.
Pastor Paul & Pastor Jonah have decided the best place to install it is at the Joy Counselling premises. Joy Counselling is their Kenyan NGO, through it they sponsor children, and keep a fund to help those in dire immediate need. The premises is not large, but it does have a room that could fit about 12 people, at a push! And this is just the beginning.
It wasn’t too expensive to install about £115.00 but the monthly payment is about £30.00 which does take some thought re sustainability. In this case Paul & Jonah plan to fund the monthly payment by allowing people in the village to use the Wifi for a few Kenyan Shillings. Jonah has worked it out that if 10 people come each day to use the services it will pay for itself and the cost of the electricity. This is definitely ahead of the curve here, being the first Wifi in the village.
We also funded a refurbed laptop, you can get a decent one for about £200.00…… and we are now praying into funding more of them.
This is a win win situation, potential for an income stream for the Pastors, a service for the community, and the school children, and a brilliant way to teach, train and Liebust.
We here at PottersHeart are so thankful that out of this time of darkness and struggle this is God provision of light and hope for these precious people.
If you would like to help us expand this work please find the donate button on http://www.pottersheart.org.
Love Linden & the PottersHeart Team x
These are Pastor Jonah’s two youngest children Sam and Faith. They, along with the rest of the family are currently in lockdown. The numbers of covid patients are still rising, but the number of people in dire need of food and money is also still rising. Add to that the devastating floods in the area, it is difficult to hold on to hope for the future.
One thing we do know is that children, young people and adults all need to be IT literate in this day and age. Jonah’s eldest daughter Rebecca is determined to become a teacher, she has worked so hard to get the exams she needs to achieve this dream. Then lockdown came along. Maybe I feel so bad for her because I identify with my granddaughter Lottie, she worked really hard for A Levels, and felt adrift when it was all snatched away. Rebecca was stuck, no school, no wifi, no laptop, just disappointment and frustration. Thankfully PottersHeart was able to send enough funds to have Wifi connected, and to buy a refurbished laptop. I do think one laptop between six children, Mum and Dad, will need very careful managing! Maybe we need to fund some more!
It has always been my vision to be able to offer online teaching and training out in these rural villages. However we have had to wait for technology to be available to do that, so this is a really exciting step forward. Pastor Jonah has downloaded Zoom, and once the Wifi is installed we are ready to make a start.
We will eventually be offering all the topics we teach when we are there, and so much more. Watch out everyone we will be looking for people to bring some specialist topics.
I am also a qualified and experienced Liebuster, a fast, simple, powerful yet gentle freedom prayer model that facilitates the power of God to set you free to live out your purpose. If you would like further information on this ministry go to http://www.liebusters.global or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Although I am privileged to facilitate this freedom prayer with people from all over the world, we have seen incredible results in the Kenyan villages. Particularly striking in Dgara where fighting and killing between tribes has ceased. I am so excited that we will be able to offer this to Kenya via Zoom.
Thank you so much to all those who have helped us send out money to buy maize and beans……. we couldn’t do any of this without you.
We are praying you are all keeping well and safe.
Love Linden & The PottersHeart Team x
We are so thankful to be able to provide some of the village families with Maize and beans.
We recently, thanks to all who donated, were able to send £1000 to villages in Kenya, to buy bags of maize and beans. There they now have the coronavirus, but they don’t have intensive care beds, or ventilators, or even the money to buy paracetamol. During this time of lockdown their lives are even more difficult, no money and no food. Never mind dying of the virus, they are in real danger of dying from starvation. In Kamungei, one of the villages where we teach, people are already malnourished, especially the elderly and the children. Jackson aged 85 and his wife Susan 79, said that they didn’t have words to tell us how thankful they are for the food.
Today we are sending another £1000, all thanks to your donations. This food is the difference between life and death, it is also expressing love to people who are feeling forgotten and unloved. If anyone would like to make a donation you can go to http://www.pottersheart.org
Blessings to you all
Many people are doing just that, giving when it hurts to give, when you are not sure of your own future and income levels, but still giving. I believe that huge blessing comes with this sacrificial giving, it’s easy to give when it doesn’t hurt, doesn’t really impact our lives. As Christians many of us grow up giving, as children we are taught to put coins in the collection, we buy a poppy on remembrance day, text money to Children in Need, and so much more…….. and yet if we look back we rarely give until it hurts. We rationalise this by saying we are being responsible, good stewards of our money…….. I believe this time of isolation is a great time to reflect on this. We have so much stuff, so many dreams that are about ‘want’ not need, if we could strip just half of that away our disposable income could grow enormously!
Isaiah 43v18-19 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
In these strange times there are so many worthy causes vying for your attention, so many people both at home and across the globe in desperate need of help. So my thank you to all of you that have given to the desperately poor villages in rural Kenya, is heart felt. It is easy for me to feel the heart break, I have been there and know many of the families, you are giving on a secondhand word…….. please give yourselves a big clap!!
We have already sent £1000.00, this will feed 50 families of six, one meal a day of maize and beans, for one month. I am thrilled to say we are now up to the second £1000.00 ready to send. The situation there continues to be dire, there is no win win situation …… if you stay in you starve, if you go out you run the risk of getting the virus, in a location where there is no intensive care and no ventilators to help. People won’t even be able to afford to buy paracetamol….. that puts it in perspective.
If you are able to give you can find us on http://www.pottersheart.org. Our Donate button takes you straight to our CAF giving page.
Stay safe, love & blessings
Hi folks sorry I haven’t written since we got back from Kenya. We arrived back into Heathrow to find a very strange scene…… an almost empty airport! Never the less we decided to go into self isolation for seven days just because we had been exposed to lots of people on an aeroplane…….. little did we know that nearly four weeks later we would still be in isolation. We found ourselves at least 2 hours away from family, over 70 years old and asthmatic. Bit of a challenge, as we had been away for nearly three weeks the cupboard was bare! Not even a dried up piece of cheese in the fridge. We tried to do our first ever supermarket shop on line, easy to shop, not easy to get a slot. We reached the stage where we had to let people help us, not a place we had ever been before. Thankfully eventually Waitrose came up trumps, and the exciting day dawned when food would be delivered. I was so looking forward to cheese on toast….. no cheese! John was looking forward to a lager in the garden…… no lager!
Why am I telling you all of this, well because it is in such stark contrast to what our beautiful friends in the rural Kenyan villages are experiencing. For two weeks we had been teaching in three different villages. All three are experiencing poverty that makes you weep, children are malnourished, families are too poor to send them to school, the clinic facilities are at least two hours walk away. Even if you can get to the clinic the nurse won’t be able to give you any medicines, she doesn’t have any. Lots of people have respiratory disease, not helped by the climate, or the cooking on a wood fire in enclosed spaces. The only things you have to eat are what you can grow, and you know that the locust swarms are in the area.
My scene of empty food cupboards and an empty fridge is not like theirs is it. I have money so I can via telephone or online, order food and many other things. I can turn a tap on and drink water. I can safely use a toilet which is in my own house, and I can easily wash my hands. I don’t have to collect wood for a fire, I just turn the cooker on. So if authority or common sense tells me I need to isolate, it will be to keep me safe.
In Kenya as they are told to isolate, to practice social distancing, life becomes even more fragile. If they go out and catch the disease there will be no, or very little hope of a hospital bed, never mind a ventilator……. if they stay in many will starve to death. It puts me missing cheese into perspective doesn’t it.
How can we help? We can send money to enable families to buy bags of maize and beans, this will keep them alive. John & I usually love to go into a cafe for a latte and maybe a cheeky piece of cake…… even if we only donated what we would spend on that a month it would feed a family. On http://www.pottersheart.org we have a donate button anything you can give will help.
Thank you so much
Linden & John xx
I’ve been pondering on our work last week in the village of Kamng’ei. We knew life was tough there, and sadly we are used to seeing poverty but this is on another level. When we arrived the students eyes were hopeless, worn down and worn out. Many haven’t even got any land, they have to walk over 2 kilometres to get water. Each family needs at least 8 x 20 litre Jerry cans a day, that’s 40 Kenyan Shillings which not everyone has. There are many children, and a lot are malnourished, and some have kwashiorkor (wet malnutrition). One little one was so malnourished she didn’t have the strength to cry….. it’s heart breaking. We had a lovely young man called Robert in the training, he has glaucoma…… already blind in one eye. He needs eye drops for the rest of his life but to him there is no way to achieve this, so he will lose his sight. We met his beautiful wife and their new baby Sam, the baby was dedicated in church on Sunday. (See photo below)
When we had finished a Community Liebust and two days of training, a fragile hope had returned to them, armed with new ideas for farming, basic health and hygiene teaching, and much needed teaching on relationships and family planning, this little band of 20 students are determined to make a difference in this place. They too have decided to form a PottersHeart Kamng’ei Community Teaching Team, knowing that we will commit to at least five visits to continue the teaching them.
Yesterday an 8 month old baby died on arrival to the hospital from simple diarrhoea and for the want of rehydration. Life is so tough. Please stand with us in being able to teach, train, and release potential in these people. We hope you will pray with us. X