4 Quick Grant Updates!

4 Quick Grant Updates!

1. 35 Women Trained in Zambia

One of the women who received a small low-interest loan to establish her hair braiding business.

One of the women who received a small low-interest loan from Welfare Concern International to establish her hair braiding business.

(SIA funded Welfare Concern International, a grassroots organization, to coordinate a capacity-building workshop and small micro-loans for women in Livingstone in 2014.)

From Moses Chibanda, Director: In the last six months, we have trained 35 community women and we have empowered 18 of them with small loans.

Our biggest success has been to see the trained women being able to at least have two meals per day for their families and send their children to school, a thing that never used to happen in the past. Secondly, the women whom we have so far trained this year have been able to run their businesses successfully. This has been attributed to the training which we provided for them. Many have been able to also open their own savings accounts with the banks.

Community members, through the provision of capacity building training and micro-loans empowerment, are slowly drifting away from hand outs to using their hands to do something for themselves.”

2. A Safety Net for Widows in Kenya

Two of the three large fish ponds run collectively by the Tsindomdale Women's group in Kenya.

Two of the three large fish ponds run collectively by the Tsindombela Women’s group in Kenya.

(The Tsindombela Women’s Group in Kakamega, Kenya received a SIA grant last year to dig 3 large fish ponds and start a collective business.)

From Grace Makungu, President: We have over 500 fish in our three ponds. And 28 widows and their families have benefited from this project so far.

Birds were taking some of our fishes in great numbers because we didn’t have the net to cover the top and give protection. It is with our profit from the first sale of fish that we were able to purchase a fishing net ($380) and also save some profit ($200) with our treasurer. 

We are in the process of bringing the District Fisheries Department to see if they can provide future support to bring out project to a higher level. We are also planning to extend the project by utilizing swampy places at our member’s farms that lie dormant. If well utilized, the group can come up with giant results in the next few years, and that is our true dream.”

3. New SIA Partner to Empower Girls

(SIA just sent funds this week for Pastoralist Child Foundation to host an empowerment workshop and Alternative Rite of Passage ceremony for 60 girls in Samburu, Kenya. Here is more about their past successes.)

In the last 2 years PCF has provided workshops for 132 girls and seminars for 70 adults. They have also sponsored 6 students to attend high school.

“With your support we’ll increase the number of workshops in 2015, educating more girls and preparing them for their very first celebratory Alternative Rite of Passage. This will be history-in-the-making!” [Tanya’s note: The girls are eager for this alternative to the traditional Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).] 

The girl’s workshops provide them with the “vital information needed to resist FGM and forced early marriages, and to adopt safe and peaceful Alternative Rites of Passage to Womanhood.

The curriculum also includes the importance of knowing about the female sexual reproductive system, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, rape, resisting gender-based violence, as well as the importance of getting a formal education.

4. Empowering Students at Samro School

A poster in the computer room at Samro School encourages students to ask questions to learn more.

A poster in the computer room at Samro School encourages students to ask questions to learn more.

(SIA funded a water tank at Samro School in 2014 and will help with school fees in 2015. Some of the students come from South Sudan, where there is still much unrest.)

Report from Samuel and Rhoda Teimuge, Directors: “We thank God for the wonderful year though full of financial challenges. Most parents were not able to complete their school fees on time and that became a setback for us to meet the teachers’ salaries. We thank you for standing with us. Our teachers do their best to teach critical thinking and the students are developing in academics, spiritual development, and character development. We believe we are causing an impact in our society as we hear good reports of what our graduates are doing in high school. The first Samro graduates are joining university this year.”

**For a list of all recent grants, visit our Grants List page.

Making me happy: Savings Groups, Moringa, & the Unexpected

I started my morning today with one of the things making me happy this week: Moringa Green Tea! And from there I read a great article about local leadership in Liberia and then received an encouraging update from the new savings and loans group in Zambia.

I guess you can say that there are a lot of SIA-related things making me happy this week. Here’s a taste to share with you:

1. Savings and Loans in Zambia

Chickens in a coop at a school campus in Kitale, Kenya.

Chickens in a coop at a school campus in Kitale, Kenya.

This new savings and loans cooperative in Mfuwe, Zambia started just last summer after SIA-partner Canaan Gondwe held a training workshop there. Below the cooperative’s new leader, Mrs. Misozi Kadewele, tells us how the group is working together to succeed:

“The co-operative is doing well although we met less days in December as everyone was busy with their families. We have started giving out small amounts of Loans to individuals with security. The chickens are doing very very well. We have now 25 active members in the co-operative. We give each other turns to clean up the chicken houses and those who can not make time pay a small fee towards the cooperative.”

Money raised from the chicken sales goes to build the loan fund. The group is considering buying an incubator for the eggs, in order to speed up the process of production and hatching.

2. Moringa Green Tea

moringa tea

Moringa, the “miracle tree,” is one of the plants that Del encouraged people around the world to plant. In part, this was because its leaves are highly nutritious. It’s said that Moringa contains amino acids, protein, potassium, calcium, iron, and so much more. Wow!

I bought Moringa powder a few years ago and made some tea out of it, but I wasn’t wowed with the flavor. However, this week I bought some Moringa tea that’s blended with green tea. The result is a very nice, earthly green tea – and it’s good for me too!

The brand I got in Canada is RootAlive. You can also find it in the US through Grenera. I’d love to try the Moringa Apple Infusion sometime!

3. Respect for the Unexpected

One of my general New Year’s resolutions is to “go with the flow” more. To allow for the unexpected in life and welcome that unknown as a chance to grow. This quote from the Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frédéric Amiel speaks to that:

Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for the unknown God.

What’s new with SIA these days?

So much is going on this month for Spirit in Action partners! I’m excited to share some of these exciting updates with you:

  • Last Tuesday, experienced local coordinators Canaan Gondwe (Malawi) and Dennis Kiprop (Eldoret, Kenya) met with our newest Small Business Fund (SBF) Coordinator-in-training! We are so excited to welcome Ms. Wambui Nguyo of Nairobi to our SIA team. She will be working with families in the Korongocho slum in Nairobi to start small businesses and reach a new level of security. The training time reviewed SIA’s approach of starting small, communication skills as essential for success, and affirming and encouraging the groups at every step along the way. We’re so exited about this expansion of our small-grants program!
SBF

Dennis, Wambui, & Canaan training and sharing about how to manage the Small Business Fund program in your community.

  • New Trainings in Village Savings and Loans in Zambia. We’ve seen such inspiring success from the Manyamula Village Savings and Loans (MAVISALO) group in Malawi and now, partnering with Africa Hope Fund and Rotary International, two leaders from MAVISALO are traveling to Zambia at the end of June to host a workshop to help the Mfuwe Rotary club establish their own village bank. Village banks not only offer reasonable interest rates and a safe place to save, they also provide crucial access to small loans for businesses, emergency medical care, and school fees.
Singing in Malawi

Singing in community. MAVISALO in Malawi.

  • New volunteer program with women in Kenya. The growing grassroots organization CIFORD Kenya, which supports women and girls and people with HIV/AIDS, is introducing a new volunteer program! CIFORD director, Margaret Ikiara, writes, “We are in the process of establishing a volunteer program for the people from outside Kenya, both students and people who wish to go for holiday but do some charity work. We are sure when these people come in the organization bring a lot of experiences and skills as they learn from the local people their culture, lifestyle and day to day activities.” Boyd and I had the opportunity to visit CIFORD when we were in Kenya and it was inspiring to see all the projects and gardens that these women are managing there.
  • New ideas! The Best and Simplest Way to Fight Global Poverty, an article in Slate Magazine, reports on a study in Uganda that found that “Money with no strings attached not only directly raises the living standards of those who receive it, but it also increases hours worked and labor productivity, seemingly laying the groundwork for growth to come.” It’s an interesting short article and confirms some of the things we already see happening through our Small Business Fund grants.

We are so grateful for all these new opportunities, new learnings, and for our experienced, generous, capable partners in Kenya and Malawi! Thank you also to our donors who keep these programs growing!

“Walk joyfully on the earth and respond to that of God in every human being.” –George Fox

A space for widows in Zambia

A space for widows in Zambia

An important part of Spirit in Action’s mission is to respond to the real needs of the people and support already existing grassroots community organizations abroad. We start by acknowledging the experience and local knowledge of the community leaders and encourage with them as they hone projects that will work for the their specific community.

One such grassroots organization that Spirit in Action has supported is Welfare Concern International (WCI), in Livingstone, Zambia. Moses Chibanda, the current director, left a job in teaching in 2005 to run WCI full-time because he felt a deep calling to help those around him work their way out of poverty. The organization’s mission, in Moses’ words is “to bring hope and give people life survival skills through training and economic empowerment programs”.

Community members meet to pray and plan for the new WCI building.

Community members meet to pray and plan for the new WCI building.

Most of WCI’s members are widows who have lost their spouses due to the AIDS pandemic, and many are working to have enough money for their children to attend school. Moses explains, “One of the crucial problems faced by guardians is lack of capital to start their own income generating activities to sustain themselves and their families.” WCI provides skills training and small loans for new Income Generating Activities (small businesses) for the widows.

To help WCI in their efforts, the Livingstone City Council, donated an old building (pictured right) that will house a resource center and serve as a place for skills training and other economic empowerment activities. Not wanting to let any space go to waste, the group will use the land around the center to raise chickens and plant a vegetable garden. Spirit in Action will continue to follow their renovation progress and encourage them to reach out to more widows in their community.

Through the challenges of starting to build a center for WCI and seeing the mounting poverty around him, Moses continues on, always expressing dedication to his mission and acting as a strong role model for those who are able to do great works in their community by starting small and dreaming large. Moses shares, “I desire to serve the less privileged people to the best of my ability and take Welfare Concern International to great heights of success. There are moments in my life when I have felt like giving up but because of Spirit in Action’s encouragement and prayer support I have continued to soldier on to drive the work of WCI.”

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