Everyone wants to know about my recent trip to Kenya.Did you contract ebola? What was the highlight of the trip? Did you feel safe? What was the food like? the weather? Did you go on a safari? Did you see any wild animals? It’s natural for friends and family to be curious about my 10,000 mile excursion.
119 girls graduate in Alternative Rite of Passage in Oldonyonyokie
On August 29th 2014, HEART was invited to participate in the graduation ceremony of 119 girls aged between 9-14 years old at Oldonyonyokie primary school. These girls were at risk of female genital cut (FGC) as it is the custom in the Maasai culture. They graduated from a three day Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) training that is geared to renounce this custom. In the Maasai community, a girl who is not “cut” is unable to take up her traditional role as a mother and wife.
In the Maasai community, a girl who is not “cut” is unable to take up her traditional role as a mother and wife.
The cultural roots of female genital cutting are so embedded in the Maasai community that parents believe it is the best thing for their girls. This auspicious event was organized by the Oldonyonyokie local leaders in collaboration with African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF Kenya). The organizers chose Oldonyonyokie primary school as the suitable venue because of the dormitory that was built by county council of Ol Kejuado and was fully furnished by Women Leaders in Action (WLA) through Rotarians for Fighting Aids (RFFA) and HEART.
Circumcision in Maasai culture marks the transition from girlhood to womanhood. In this regard girls are often obligated to be circumcised so that they will be fully accepted in their culture. However, in this event the community elders and the parents of the young girls came together to renounce this tradition in order to encourage people to move away from female genital cutting.
HEART was represented by Rtn. Vickie Winkler – the Executive Director and Founder, Colleen Fischer- assistant professor university Minnesota and Ms. Lydiah Njoroge FFG Field Officer. The event started with the girls singing and dancing to songs declaring that they have renounced the female genital cutting in their community. During the event the Moran’s (young men in the Maasai community) made a declaration that they will not marry girls who are circumcised but they will only marry girls who are smart and have gone to school. The girls assured their parents that they would work hard and bring joy to their families. The guest of honour was Chief Mary Kashinka from Namelok, Loitoktok location (the first woman chief) urged parents to educate the girls and highlighted that the constitution prohibits such practices and if anyone is caught in act of circumcising the girls, the law will deal with them.
HEART held its annual WEEP Graduation ceremony. Eleven beautiful women graduated and celebrated this new chapter in their lives. They have literally been restored physically, emotionally and spiritually, through HEART’s Women Equality Empowerment Project (WEEP) . Pam Joseph and Beth Blaisdell of Women Leaders in Action (WLA) were our special guests from Atlanta, Georgia. Pam, US Bank Executive, was our Keynote Speaker and encouraged our graduates to realize their role as community leaders. Beth lovingly presented the diplomas to each graduate, realizing the amazing challenges they have overcome to receive this symbol of success. HEART Programs Manager, Evans Masese, presented a succinct overview of HEART. Bishop Abel Oyaro, chairman of HEART’s Board of Trustees, led the spiritual blessing over these women. Over 100 guests graced the occasion, laughter and rousing applause from the audience closed the ceremony. Please see more photos on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/africaheart
Team Leader: John Johnson
Team Members: The Brown Family, Mary Content Burns, Judi Morales Hernandez, The Johnson Family, The Perkins Family
Bayside Church again returned to Kenya this summer under the experienced leadership of John Johnson. The team was made up of some veteran friends of HEART and some new marafiki, (friends). Their days were packed with serving, building, and embracing the Kenyan culture. Throughout all of the hard work they enjoyed fellowship with the Kenyans through eating, singing and dancing together. A Ngong WEEP woman, Mercy, was especially blessed by this team as they brought additional funds to build a home for her.
Below is an excerpt from the post about Mercy’s home…
We traveled back to Ngong today to dedicate Mercy’s new home. We began construction on the home last Tuesday and it was finished this Monday. As with almost all of our visits in Kenya, the ladies from the Ngong WEEP Center greeted us with singing and dancing. If you like singing and dancing, you will have to come to Kenya next year and enjoy it with us! The singing and dancing then moved inside the new home and then it continued outside as we began to celebrate what God has done for Mercy and her family. Mercy stood up and thanked God, HEART, and our team for how her family had been blessed with a new home. After a few more people spoke, we laid hands on Mercy and her home and dedicated it to God. It is very humbling to see the joy and thankfulness flowing from Mercy’s heart and know that you had a small part in it. Thank you to all of our supporters back home who took part in the $1,000 challenge. HEART knew that we had raised an extra $1,000 and asked if we could raise another $1,000 to make this dream of Mercy’s come true. People back home responded and hopefully, you can rejoice in the difference you have made in this family’s life! After lunch we started saying our goodbyes and noticed that Mercy’s son, Paul, was not using his right arm. Come to find out, it looks like he broke it playing soccer last Sunday and has not gone to the doctor. Something we take for granted, going to the doctor for a broken wrist, is a luxury in Kenya because of the cost. After discussing the situation with him, his mother, and the HEART staff, we decided to pay for x-rays and his cast so that he could go to the doctor. This is also something all of our supporters helped to pay for. Thank you once again for making a difference in Paul’s life.
Please follow the link to see more photos and read more from their trip!
I am in Amsterdam … on my way back to Kenya … I arrived about noon yesterday and leave this morning … worked till 9:30 PM last night and then got a Mercure room for the night and arrive in Kenya tonight. Up at 5:30 AM so I have a few hours to work before boarding my flight to Nairobi. .
I arranged the long lay over here in Amsterdam before I knew how WLA would bless me in Atlanta … so thought I would be “dead on my feet” with being up so many hours … I had planned to be in the Atlanta airport lounge from 6 AM – 10 PM – 14 hours so I could have the 2 hour meeting with WLA leadership. I wanted to ask them for $16,391 for WEEP women children’s school fees …which I did and they said “yes”! Plus we discussed other projects and they will help with staff salaries to implement WLA projects … they took me out to dinner with a group of WLA leaders in Atlanta … Italian … NICE! Then Beth took me back to the airport and we chatted all the way … never enough time with Beth!
Women Leaders in Action (WLA) surprised me in Atlanta and sent a limo to the airport to pick me up and take me to the “Sheridan Hotel” ! I told the Limo driver about our WEEP project and he refused my tip and said “give it to your women” … can you believe that! He also said, “I want to be like you when I grow up”! I had a 4 solid hours sleep at the “Sheridan” before our meeting! It was marvelous! I was so tired …
I had moved from my little Lake of the Pines haven that Don and Liz Duffy provide for me … Pam Tweet came and helped me pack up all my stuff and clean my place (oh my I would not have finished without her!) and my grandson Buddy came and loaded up his truck (seriously it was loaded – he asked me “Grams did you really use all this stuff in that little space”)? Of course, I also had 3 large suitcases filled to the top for Kenya, a carry-on and my lap top case …and my purse …all stuffed … I like to travel light…
I got a complimentary upgrade to First Class to Atlanta and a complimentary Business Class to Amsterdam … this was another treat! Seems you just cannot out-give the Lord! I thought I would sacrifice my time and strength for the WEEP children needs and then I was one of the ones blessed!
I had a wonderful trip to the US:
New York City – was highlighted by Segal Family Foundation annual meeting for grantees with President Bill Clinton as the guest speaker! Amazing two days! I stayed with my friends Allison and Josh … an remarkable young couple that I now know better … they shared their lovely one bedroom apt. in Hoboken (gave me their bedroom)
Philadelphia – I spoke for a (WLA) luncheon … about 50 US Bank employees that are part of this WLA chapter … took 50 pounds of WEEP items for them and they bought all of it! I had put a duffel bag in one of my big suitcases in Kenya and just took it on the train with me to Philly and left it with them! What a great group!
Boston – I traveled to Boston and stayed with ken and Marie grant in their lovely home overlooking the Boston Harbor … spectacular view! I met with Amanda from Lift Up Africa (LUA) and discussed some future plans with her for having them work with some of the CBO that we mentor.
Then had lunch with Norris-Rugel Foundation founders – Peter and Amy Norris … they promised to come to Kenya next year! I also has a couple quiet days there to work and rest … I am grateful to Ken and Marie for their gracious hospitality.
Auburn, CA – then home to Auburn … had some time with family (never enough) and had many meetings and gatherings with friends and partners with HEART.
Atlanta – meeting with WLA list above …so a great time in USA!
[dropcap]Thank you for your prayers and support! I am ready and anxious to join my team in Kenya …. [/dropcap]
Team Leaders: Trish Anderson, Brita Erickson, and Mark Gomez
Team Members 16 Valor Christian High School Students
“When people talk about mission trips, it is usually glorifying the work they are doing for the people. But what I’ve learned while I was here, is that these people are doing just as much for us. They are changing my life. I’ll be leaving a piece of my heart in Kenya when I leave because of the connections I’ve made. Our team is awesome, and God deserves a never-ending praise for ordaining our team’s relationship. We can’t wait to tell you all about our time here. Continue to pray with us as we wind down our time here! God is doing great things.” Macy
Valor Christian High School returned for the fourth year to HEART from June 6-14. They brought three returning team leaders and sixteen students. They really made the most of their 8 days!
Some highlights include:
painting the Kibera WEEP center
attending church and leading Teen Bible studies and Sunday School for the children
driving to a Maasai village, Oldonyonyokie, and honoring the Maasai culture with food, dance., and soccer
building two homes in Kisii for two women with HIV/Aids.
Please follow the link to see photos of this team and share in the 8 day journey. www.valordiscovery.net
Written by Pastor Johnathan Merle
After nearly a year of planning, training, prayer, and preparation, our medical missions team is on their way to Kenya, East Africa to work and minister to women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. We are working with a terrific ministry called HEART, www.africaheart.com while we are there. Stay tuned for pictures and updates on a regular basis of all that is happening. It’s going to be an awesome trip and we’ll look forward to sharing about it when we return. Thanks for your prayers and thoughts!
May 21 Here are some pictures from our first few days here in Kenya. We went to a slum, the 2nd largest in all of Africa called Kibera. I’ve been all around the world and seen a lot, but this was one of the roughest. Still, the women we worked with we’re happy, had hope, worked hard…it was awesome. The team is doing great. Tomorrow we’ll go to another community called Ngong.
KENYA UPDATE: Hi Everyone! We’ve been in the villages of Kenya (called “Up-Country”) and have had an amazing few days. The other day, we saw nearly 50 women in clinic, all who were HIV+, all without husbands for various reasons, and all lovely in so many ways. Our amazing team is doing TERRIFIC. We’re having the time of our lives seeing and experiencing the culture and people of this terrific nation. HEART (www.africaheart.com) is an incredible organization with some truly terrific initiatives to teach and reach the Kenyan people. Take a look at our photo album and enjoy!
Here’s a couple of pictures of me in clinic one day when we saw about 50 patients. It’s been YEARS since I did any clinical practice so it was fun to get back in it. The second picture is a cool story. Our group raised about $1400 to seed a micro finance project for this group of women. To receive this amount of money is a literal miracle for them as it is not feasible without help. Here’s the cool part though…The organization we’re working with has other groups of women that have received seed money like this and they’ve turned it into something amazing. One industrious women turned her 14,500 Kenyan Shillings into over a million Shillings. Another has hired 4 women in her enterprise. The goal is to instill business skills, values and training to empower them to not only survive, but to thrive. I challenged these women to make their seed into a tree and that we would be following up on their progress. It’s really neat to see. Thanks for following and praying for us
After a long journey back traveling on 3 continents, the 2013 Kenya Medical Missions team is safe and sound back at home in Colorado. During our journey, we met many amazing people as well as really bonded as a team. We were told that our team left it’s mark on the ministry and those we worked with. The truth is, Kenya and those we met have left their mark on us. We are so grateful for the opportunities with an EXCELLENT organization, HEART www.africaheart.com, the American and Kenyan staff, and Vickie Winkler. We are also grateful for the support of those that gave to help us go and for our wonderfully supportive church and Pastor at Jubilee Fellowship Church.
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