During World Next Door’s trip to Nairobi, Kenya, this past summer, Christine Sullivan used her photography to introduce us to the amazing women at Changing Times, a community center in Kibera slum. For the past two years, these widows and AIDS victims have been using their weekly Bible study meetings as a time to share creative ways that they can boost their earning capacity by making jewelry and crafts to sell.

Pastor George, the director of Changing Times in Kibera, has done a lot to encourage the women to team up and start their own business.

Pastor George, the director of Changing Times in Kibera, has done a lot to encourage the women to team up and start their own business.

ZanaAfrica, an organization committed to empowering women and children in Kibera, has partnered with these women to teach them new skills and to help them start a joint business to sell their products. In the face of crushing poverty and the burden of poor health, the promise of a new way to support their families brought them incredible hope.

Along with food products, the widows make lots of beautiful jewelry.

Along with food products, the widows make lots of beautiful jewelry.

But even as these enterprising women decided to pool their resources and start an income-generating project, they faced some obstacles, like the lack of a blender – a useful but expensive tool for making all sorts of food products to sell.

That’s when two World Next Door readers in faraway Indiana decided to get involved. After reading about the juice-making workshop led by ZanaAfrica, and seeing the joy and hope written all over the women’s faces at the thought of their new business, this couple was inspired to action.

“We want[ed] to invest in this dream,” they said. Giving a blender “seemed like such a simple thing to do that could change the future for these families.” So they gave two blenders, one to these women and another to a different empowerment group also led by ZanaAfrica for widows in Kibera.

Almost everyone in the room took a turn holding the shiny new blender!

Almost everyone in the room took a turn holding the shiny new blender!

Since I was still working for World Next Door in Kenya, I had the privilege of delivering the blender to Changing Times. I watched with joy as the widows excitedly passed the shiny new appliance and all of its plastic-wrapped parts around the room, posing with it and flashing grateful smiles for my camera. Everyone wanted a piece of the action, so we took lots of pictures!

Then they put the blender to work. One of the women, Abigail, had planned her own workshop to teach her friends how to make tomato sauce. I watched as she proudly instructed her “students,” who either jumped into the task of cutting veggies or busily copied down the recipe in notebooks.

As I observed the incredible impact of this small gift and a new overseas partnership, I also smiled at the significance of the other relationships represented in the room. Because these widows come from multiple tribes and live in different neighborhoods scattered across Kibera, working together has at times been a challenge. In the volatile climate of the slum, where ethnic violence has often threatened to destroy the fabric of the community, economic projects like this one can be a powerful peace-building tool.

Now the group is intent on finding a place they can rent and open up shop!

Now the group is intent on finding a place they can rent and open up shop!


Currently, these courageous women are working on the next step to making their dream a reality, which is to find a shop they can afford to rent that will allow them to better market and sell their products. Together, they are breaking into new territory, and setting examples for others, to be creative, break the chains of poverty, and build trust across communities.

Somehow, the right combination of a passionate WND photographer, 20 innovative widows, a couple of inspired and generous readers, and partners like ZanaAfrica and Changing Times is bringing real transformation to Kibera. With their kind of vision, I can’t wait to see how far they’ll go!

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Next Steps
    • Pray that the women find a shop they can afford to rent and begin selling their products for a real profit.
    • Pray that these relationships across ethnic lines grow and deepen.
    • Visit ZanaAfrica’s website to see how you can be involved in more of their work empowering women and children in Kenya.
    • Send grace@zanaafrica.org an email if you’d like to be more directly involved with the women at Changing Times in Kibera.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Jessica Shewan is a journalist with World Next Door. She graduated in 2009 from The University of Evansville with a bachelor's degree in History. She loves making new international friends and is passionate about seeing the global church pursue justice and peace!

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Comments

  1. Jim M said... 

    Reply

    December 20th, 2009 at 10:47 am  

    Jess, Thanks for the article. So many things we take for granted in business are missing in Kibera. But several things are obviously present… God’s beautiful and detailed design that compels us to progress, for us to move forward, refusing to become an enemy to hope. We also see these women’s trust in His faithfulness to provide. We also see the grace of other believers in this story, and joy in the faces of those who are grateful with so little. Thank you for keeping us in the midst of a piece of Gods work in Kenya with your writing.

  2. liboyi john okoyo said... 

    Reply

    February 18th, 2011 at 5:45 am  

    Thanks for what you are doing atleast to make the Kibera people feel that there is somebody who can help them.May God continue to provide and shower blessings to you.

  3. mijide said... 

    Reply

    May 11th, 2012 at 4:34 am  

    God will always provide a way where ther seems to be no way.
    He is always powerful that in the midist of our cry He registers this attention;
    -bitter to better
    -story to glory
    -tests to tetmonies
    -stress to strength
    -miseries to miracles
    -pressure to pleasure.
    you are divinely protected in Jesus name.
    grace

    • Jessica said... 

      Reply

      June 11th, 2012 at 10:09 pm  

      Thanks for this encouragement, Grace. God’s provision is amazing!

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