Samson Shares His Story
Samson is an 18 year-old man living in a small community just outside Maua, Kenya. Normally when I introduce an 18 yr old the term would be 18 yr old boy. But Samson is an exceptional man who happens to be 18. Samson’s father died over 8 years ago leaving Samson and his 4 siblings: 6, 9, 13 and 16. Samson’s mother is unable to care for her children so Samson stepped into the role of both mother and father to his brothers and sister.
Samson is a graduate of The Zoe Project. He’s completed his 3 years of training and continues to lead his “work group” known as Emmanuel. Emmanuel continues to hold each other accountable and to support, encourage and care for each other. These members are the head of their household so the effects of the group go beyond just those family leaders but include their siblings and extended families as well as the entire community. This working group was formed by Zoe to create an opportunity for learning and community building. Each group has a facilitator to guide them toward self-sufficiency. Members of the group hold each other accountable for their business progress but also for the progress of their families. For Samson, progress means that all of his siblings are in school, they all have several meals each day as opposed to the one that was normal before Samson joined his working group.
Each member chooses a business or profession. They coordinate so that they aren’t necessarily competing against each other for customers. But Samson did report that they are competitive - each trying to out succeed the other in their own areas. Samson’s choice was to own a nursery. Samson was given 3,000 shillings (about $30 US). The source was a church in Florida that supports Zoe.
Samson bought plants, cultivated them and 3 months later he sold the plants for 3 times the original investment. Last year he germinated 15,000 plants, his goal is 50,000 per year.
Samson was able to buy his own land for his business and plans to buy more. He has created a beautiful growing environment in addition to building a house for himself and one for his siblings just steps away. With his profits he also bought a cow that provides milk for his entire family and then some. He bought goats and rabbits to provide food for his family but also to sell. With each sale he plans for more growth of the family business. The business includes his siblings who are more like his children now. They help with chores and also are responsible for the caring of the animals. His is very proud of the fact that he can send each to school and that each is doing well. The 16 yr old brother just passed the exam allowing him to go on to high school. Samson now employs others on his farm both girls and boys so his success is creating success for many.
Besides being a good provider and caregiver for his family, Samson is the leader of his work group that is named Emmanuel. His leadership extends to the larger community as well. He is recognized by the local chief to be a good example for other young Kenyans so often young people are sent to Samson for guidance and counseling. He was asked what he told young people who came to him. He said first he tells them, to trust in God, to work hard and be disciplined.
Since 2012 when the working group started, Samson has done just that and the results of his labor are very evident. It’s not just that he is now a land owner homeowner, business owner, he is a leader with the maturity of someone much older. He is proud of his accomplishments but in a humble way. I had a hard time speaking to Samson without choking up, it was so moving to see all that he had overcome.
Samson wanted our group to be sure to go home and explain how important our contributions to Zoe are and how much Zoe has changed his family’s life and all the others in his group and many more to come. We asked Samson to allow us to tape his advice to young people and I hope the internet will allow me to get it to you. It was an amazing experience to create this extraordinary new friend. He is extraordinary but I think it’s important to remember there are many extraordinary orphans and other children who need our support and encouragement. Maybe there are many “Samsons” that just need a path and a little support to create a new life for themselves and their families. Samson thinks there are and that his job and our job is to shine a light on that path and pave the way.
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