Today we visited with orphans who are in the 2nd year of the program. They began in April, 2014 so only 10 months later we find Zachary. Zachary lives with his grandmother, both parents are deceased. He has 2 older brothers who are away from home looking for work. He has a 17 yr. old who has been in school but there wasn’t enough money to send both Zachary (19) and his younger brother. Zachary and his working group, The Visioners, have already begun their businesses. For Zachary, that means first a barber shop. He had been in Maua watching barbers work. He thought he could do that. He wrote a business plan and The Visioners agreed to give him a grant to start a barber shop.
Zachary’s parents owned land where the family lived so Zachary built a rectangular building on the property out of salvaged wood. In one corner, he created a small room for his barbering and the rest of the building he set up a screen and video player. He installed 7 raw benches and he charges about 10 cents for neighbors to watch movies. Schwarznegger is a favorite in the village. Many villagers own cell phones but few have electricity in their homes, so he charges a fee in this barber shop to charge cell phones. Not stopping there, he decided that customers would need snacks so he opened a small kiosk for various sundries. In the evening, he plays music tapes to attract customers.
His next venture is to create a larger store to expand the kiosk. All of this has happened in the past 10 months. He is making enough money to support his family including paying for university for his 17 yr old brother who is there in his first year. He also employs another barber to cover the shop when he is not there. Each time, he expanded his business he wrote a business plan and grant request to the working group. Each time, they approved his request and each venture has produced a profit. With that profit, he has purchased livestock which he buys and sells for profit. All of this began with a 9,500 shillings grant from the group. That’s about $95. He exemplifies the parable of the talents. Matt 25:14-30.
Next we visited Judy’s Place. A hair salon owned by another member of the Visioners. Judy’s father died sometime ago. Her mother is very ill and she has a mentally disabled older sister in addition to 5 other siblings. It is difficult for her to leave her mother and sister alone but she has to earn money for her family. She was given a startup kit to begin her salon and to be trained as a hairdresser.
Once she opened her shop, she decided that while her customers waited, they might be interested in buying other things. She set up a table outside her shop door and put up a small boutique. When she has to be away from the shop to pick up her sister from a day care program she has an older woman come in, she pays her a commission for any work she does while Judy is away. With her profits she is able to pay school fees, house and feed her family and purchase pigs, goats and rabbits all to the benefit of her family. All of this initiated with a $50 original grant.
Moses greeted us at the edge of his property with one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen. A little shy but he warmed up quickly as he proudly showed us all that he had accomplished for his family.
His working group, “Success” began in January, 2014. Moses was orphaned in 2011. He has 2 younger siblings 8 and 4. He shared with us the training that he had received so far from Zoe. He talked about the teaching on hygiene and healthy habits they are taught and lessons on what it means to be responsible and to create a community that cares for each other but also holds each other accountable for their actions. He wrote a plan to become a carpenter. He received a grant to buy his hand tools and he got training. He began by asking neighbors and people he knew for work. He would go to their homes to build furniture on site. The word spread and he began getting regular commissions. He lived on land that was owned by his parents. With his profits, he planted tobacco. To send his tobacco to a dryer would be costly over time so he decided to build his own tobacco dryer. The construction was amazing and fairly complex. It’s approximately 12 x 14 with a metal dryer. Very impressive.
With those profits, he planted a field of tomatoes that will be harvested in couple of months. He has purchased goats, chickens and a cow. His dream is to open a carpentry shop and to have his younger sister become a hairdresser and his little brother to learn mechanics so that they will be secure in the future as well.
This group of 2nd year young people was truly inspiring. They have accomplished so much in such a short time. The difference between the graduate and the 3rd year folks was apparent to me. The newer Zoe participants are more shy, they don’t have quite the strong confidence that I am sure they will have after their 3rd year.
Something happens in that additional year of success that is obvious in how they present themselves. There is just a little timidness that seems to disappear with the growing satisfaction of providing for their families that occurs over time. I continue to be moved by their growing certainty that God will sustain them and that they are called to share their blessings and they respond.