Sunday Spotlight: Sara Sakwa

Written by Village Project Africa. Posted in Children, Education, Health, Sponsorship, Stories, Women's Community

Today’s spotlight is on Sara Sakwa.

Sara Sakwa is a special member of our staff at Heritage. After her husband died several years ago, Sara found herself challenged. Her husband’s family made her life difficult, and providing for her children was hard when she was only able to find casual labor work. But all that began to change, she says, when she met Davis, the director, and he invited her to join the sewing group at Grace House. She kept going to the group more for the fellowship and support than the sewing. She found such comfort and hope in the women she met there. If it weren’t for this group, Sara is convinced that she would not be alive. They encouraged her to keep pressing forward, even in the face of difficulty. The group also helped bring her closer to God. Without God, she says her life would have been unbearable.

Not long after she joined our women’s group, she found a job at Heritage Academy as a cook, and she’s been with us since.

She said that since she joined the Heritage staff, her life has improved greatly. She feels at ease, and many of her problems have disappeared. She has a new home, which gives her a sense of security for the future.

Her five children all attend Heritage, and sponsorship means the challenge of providing for her children’s education has been alleviated. As she speaks about sponsorship, Sara gets emotional. She said that sponsorship means everything to her because it means her children will have more opportunity in life. She says she’d like to see her children work hard, be good, open doors for themselves, and have the courage to walk through those doors. She hopes for a brighter future for each of them.

Sara is so grateful for Village Project Africa and the opportunities the programs have provided for her and her children. She’s grateful for the support and love she’s received from Davis, Margaret, and so many others on staff at Heritage. But, most of all, she’s grateful to God for all He’s done in her life. She hopes God will continue to be with her as she walks into the next chapters of her life, whatever they may be.

Audrey’s Story: Learning Made Fun

Written by lauren. Posted in Education, Missions, Stories, Women's Community

Audrey Armstrong visited Makutano in 2008 and shares her experiences working with women in the village to increase their literacy. 

LearningWhen we walked up the path approaching the Grace House, we heard chattering and laughing.  Terror gripped my heart.  Who was inside and what was I doing here in this place?  Were those inside eager to be here or did they want to be in their homes caring for children and tending their gardens and fields?  Would they like me or would my lessons planned to help them recognize and write the letters in their name be too juvenile for these African  ladies?  I had prepared material for the fifteen women who had agreed to come, but when we entered the room, I saw the benches were filled with beautiful, happy, eager ladies—not fifteen, but nearly thirty had come.  They were there early and were prepared to stay all day.  This would not be the 45 minute lesson I had envisioned!  

Learning lettersWe learned a lot about improvising on the run that morning, but what fun!  We sang and prayed and wrote and talked and played and laughed.  The women practiced The Alphabet Song, The B-I-B-L-E, and B-I-N-G-O in English.  I practiced John 3:16 in Swahili.  And to my amazement, they came back every morning that week to do it again!

Baby Tamara: An Intersection

Written by margaret. Posted in Children, Education, Women's Community

Margaret shares a story of the way God used a visitor to intersect and detour the life of a family in an amazing and wonderful way!

Mary was one of our summer visitors.  A highlight of her trip was to visit her sponsored child, Francis. Mary was all smiles for sure when she met Francis and he kept grinning as well.  We first visited the Mary and Francishome of Francis’s uncle, where we learned that the child goes back and forth between 2 homes.  We decided to change our afternoon plans and also go visit Francis’s other home with his grandmother.  At the grandmother’s compound, John (another member of the visiting group) was curious about other homes on the compound and did some walking around.  At one home he noticed a baby that had something terribly wrong.  After checking out the child and talking to the mother, Davis learned that the child had been seriously burned about 10 days earlier. Davis immediately said, “Margaret, we need to change our plans for tomorrow.  We need to take this baby to the hospital.”  Sometimes I think I have seen everything in the village and then there is something more distressing.  I had the feeling that this mother was holding her infant child, just waiting for the child to die. 

The next day, we took the mother, dad, and baby to see a doctor in Eldoret that we trust, Dr. Koesch.  The baby cried most of the trip and so did I.  We waited for hours to see the doctor.  When he was finally able to examine the baby, I thought he was going to cry as well.  This is a city doctor and there is such a gap in healthcare between the city and our village.  After examining the baby, Dr. Koesch looked out the window for a while trying to decide what he should do.  Finally he turned to me and said, “This child has been covered with herbs that are not sterilized.  The child will get a terrible infection if this is not cleaned off and proper medication given.  It will be very painful to clean the child.  She must be hospitalized.”  Even now as I am writing to you, I have tears thinking back on this moment.  I said to him, “Dr. Koesch, we are prepared to do whatever you think is necessary to save this child.”  We agreed to put the child, Tamara, in the private hospital in Eldoret.   Davis and I took the little family to the private hospital and left them there for the night.

The next day we sent Pastor Joseph to pay the hospital bill and bring them home. He learned how to take care of the baby, helped teach the mother, and agreed to keep a close watch on the situation over the coming weeks.  Pastor Joseph spent quite a bit of time with the baby’s mother Faith, and during this time learned that Faith had graduated from high school with a fairly good grade—AND she dreamed of becoming a teacher. 

Oh my, when Pastor Joseph told me this I was astounded.  We believed that God had detoured us from our original plans so that we could learn about baby Tamara and help the family get proper care for her, and now it looked like there was more to the story!  This is where my friend Lois comes into the picture.  She had visited us in the village earlier in the summer. Before leaving, Lois felt called to “help two women have a chance to change their lives,” and provided funds to send two women to Heritage College to become teachers.  When I learned about Faith’s dream to become a teacher, I immediately remembered Lois’s words and gift. We were able to tell Faith that we had a place for her in Heritage College and that someone had paid for her training.  Can you imagine the smile on her face, the joy in her heart?  First of all, her baby Tamara would live and not die as she had thought, and now even another miracle might happen in her life—her dream of becoming a teacher could become a reality.  We had a heart-to-heart, head on talk with Anthony, her husband.  He and the family on the compound agreed that they fully supported Faith to go to college for this two- year commitment.

Tamara and FamilyWhat has been done for this family will change their lives forever.  FOREVER!!  They are a testimony in the village and many are watching.  Yes, one life, one family at a time.  We aren’t changing the world, but through God’s grace and wisdom, through His
guidance and love, we are seeing lives change. 
They are a testimony.  You are a testimony because
of your giving!

May God be glorified in all these things!

Dr. Terry’s Story: Six Weeks of Care

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Education, Farming, Health, Village Project Africa, Women's Community

Dr. Terry Horner (known affectionately as Dr. Terry in the village) traveled to Makutano to provide care and medical knowledge to the people of the village. After six weeks, Dr. Terry was inspired by what he saw and the compassion, care, and charity he saw all around him in the village. 

I recently returned from an uplifting and inspiring six-week trip in Makutano, Kenya, where I worked with Village Project Africa. I wanted to go back for my second time, because I saw last year how much work needed to be done to improve medical, agricultural, and educational facilities. I feel it is my calling from God to help the village people, who have spiritually-inspired me and become my friends. We continued Village Project Africa’s mission to help current and future generations of this impoverished village break the chains of poverty. 

Last year, I stayed three weeks with the group and refreshed my childhood farming skills. Over the course of this year, Village Project Africa transformed the school garden into a larger garden with a greenhouse for tomatoes and cabbage. Village Project Africa now has self-sustaining produce that they eat and even sell. To complement the produce, a farm manager now cares for 200 chickens and three cows. 

The focus of this year’s trip was to expand a small medical clinic with one practitioner, who sees 500 students for free. I realized how difficult it can be to care for the children and families when I couldn’t access current technology in a comfortable environment like at home. Village Project Africa proposed a much larger clinic with laboratory services to help treat patients based on a diagnosis, rather than by symptoms. In addition, maternity services with pre- and postnatal care and deliveries will be initiated to reduce the infant and maternal mortality rate.

This proposed clinic will serve women who currently deliver at home or have to walk several miles to reach another center. HIV and AIDS patients will also have access to
better treatment options at this facility. Once the plans are approved, we can start construction. We plan to return next year with a larger medical team from the U.S. to provide a free clinic. 

A few days before I arrived, a Kenyan medical student started volunteering at our clinic. His story caught my attention because he lost both of his parents at a young age and he was interested in becoming a neurosurgeon. He told me he struggled with school, but said he remembered his father’s advice that education was the key to success. He paid more attention to his studies and his hard work paid off when he became the only student in his secondary school’s history to receive perfect grades. In addition, he scored 37thon a test among 67,000 students in Western Kenya. Despite being admitted to the medical school at Kenyetta University, he could not pay for more than one semester. 

For the next six weeks, he amazed me at how much he knew about medicine with only one semester of medical school. His potential is great, and he wants to stay in Kenya to become the fourth neurosurgeon in his country. Village Project Africa promised him financial support during seven years of medical school. In exchange, he agreed to stay and practice in Kenya. 

Finally, the local school called the Heritage Academy has been booming. There are more than 500 students now and a new 6th grade will add 100 more children. The government signed off on plans to start building a dining hall/conference center. Among other benefits, it will give children a place to eat out of the dust and rain.

As a physician, I am always grateful for the chance to help someone physically, but this also gives me the opportunity to share my faith through service. I thank all of my patients, colleagues, and friends for their support. Being a part of Village Project Africa has changed my life by showing me the purest forms of compassion, care, and charity in Makutano.

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