Widows in the Kibera slums of Nairobi struggle against tremendous odds to provide for themselves and their children. St. Martha’s Ministry found a way for them make jewelry out of discarded animal bones and taught them how to sew to earn income.
Caleb and Eunice Otieno and missionary Martha Kirkpatrick started St. Martha’s Ministry in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. They named the widows’ project ‘Faraja’, meaning comfort in Swahili. Faraja Widows’ Project empowers widows
who are affected by HIV/AIDS.
It started with a small group of three widows and eight orphans and has grown to impact more than a dozen widows and several dozen orphans.
St. Martha’s Ministry and the widows receive their major source of income from the sale of bags and African jewelry made out of discarded animal bones. The bones are shaped at the men’s workshop nearby using grinding tools, and then given to the ladies to make beautiful bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.
Vincent grew up in northern Uganda but relocated to Kampala because of the rebel disturbances at the time. During his stay with a cousin he learned how to make crafts out of cow horn.
His hard work and creativity enabled him to start a business named HORN CRAFTS. It was difficult at first but then he I came in touch with HOPE INSTITUTE of UGANDA (Jinja Jewelry). His life changed after that because he saw hope.
He said, “before I met the people of HIU it was as if, even if I was to work to my last atom, I would not be able make it in life. I had a good exposure in 2008 when I won a trophy for being the best in crafts section at Uganda International Trade Fair. I was then able to move into a better house, and I even acquired some machines from HIU to help my business grow. I am thankful for the partnership with HIU and those who sell their products.”
Vincent has been able to expand his business twice in the last three years, and has trained nine men to help him, two are starting their own businesses.
Diana helps take care of her children by making and selling crafts. Her parents died of Aids, but God provided a way for her to finish school and start her own craft business. One of her popular products is made from recycled sugar bags. She lines them with beautiful fabrics. She is a gifted seamstress and jewelry designer.
Diana recently rescued Mercy from an alcoholic mother who was going to sell her for less than $100 to an old man. She now takes care of her and pays for school fees with the help of a friend.
Mercy is proudly wearing the shirt I gave her during our visit.
I purchased products from Diana to add to my Gifts With Purpose sales when I visited in August 2017.
Originally empowering women affected by Hansen’s Disease, Hands of Hope now also empowers other marginalized people, including young women who are orphans and some who have escaped trafficking. Although they are marginalized in their society, they are overcoming stigma and hardships.
The women receive training and mentoring to build their skill level so they can create high quality products to earn a good living to support themselves and their families. They also experience love and learn how God cares for them. They begin to live respected and hope-filled lives.
Many of the original women have become self-sufficient, and have secured employment outside Hands of Hope.
Learn income generating skills.
Design and sew marketable items.
Participate in group activities that enhance growth and personal development.
Individual Counseling for special needs.
Develop a self-sustaining micro enterprise.
Enable women to regain self-esteem and confidence.
Lilly is an orphan who became physically disabled at a young age. After her mother died during childbirth, raising a daughter was too much for her father to handle. In desperation, he tried to kill her by immersing her in boiling water. When she didn’t die, he took her to the steps of a mental institution and she was taken in by the caretaker of the hospital. She was raised there and lived a very hard life. She was disfigured and only capable of crawling on all fours. When she was discovered by a local missionary at age 13, they helped her receive surgeries to repair her burned and deformed legs. She was then able to stand upright for the first time in her life. At 17, she was taken in by Hands of Hope as a quilt maker and now has a thriving life. She is married now with children!
Your purchase of Hands of Hope products will help the physically disabled
to earn a livelihood for their families through their sewing and quilting skills.