Women all over the world are faced with unimaginable hardships, especially those living in marginalized communities. Women are often excluded from educational and economic opportunities, which leave them vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies, sexually-transmitted diseases, and gender-based violence. Lack of dignified work leaves these women trapped in a cycle of generational poverty. This leaves women feeling hopeless and desperate, robbed of their identity as an image-bearer of God.
But there is hope.
Mission ONE and our partners in Kenya, are providing the opportunity for local women to learn sewing skills, receive mentorship, and earn a dignified income while working in a safe space. They’re able to deepen their relationship with one another and God. Through their work, they’re reclaiming their identity and changing the trajectory of their lives as well as their entire communities.
When women work, they reinvest 90% of their income back into their families, compared with just 35% for men. Empowered women transform their homes and communities.
Ultimately, this project seeks to uplift and transform the next generation of women, because women are “ezers,” but they are also leaders, empowered with unique God-given talents and a true identity in Christ. This foundational truth transforms not only the lives of these women, but creates a ripple effect that will be felt for generations to come.
We took a few moments to sit down with Janet and learn more about her and the sewing ministry she’s leading in Kenya.
How did you get started in ministry?
I was raised in ministry. My uncle, my father’s younger brother raised me from the time I was 8 years old. I grew up in his family and alongside his children. They started MUPE ministry with the hope of enriching people’s lives. By then I had completed high school and was working for the ministry in the office as a receptionist. Since then, I’ve gotten married and started a family. Since my husband is a Pastor, we’re very involved in ministry together. I can say I’ve been in the ministry whole of my life.
How did you start working with the women in your community?
I have been interested in the work of women ever since I got married. When we moved to where we live now, I realized that women were facing the same challenges that I saw in other places. I was so touched by how active they were with their prayers and with the women’s programs. We wanted to know how we can help women to raise up.
As women, we aren’t happy with how things are. It’s not easy to leave things as they are when there are children living on the streets all around you and people are addicted to drugs.
But we think, what can we do?
We knew that we could start by engaging in prayer.
We started with the women in our community, in our church. There weren’t many. They didn’t have anything in their lives to give, but we started with prayer. We began by just talking to God about the status of our community and of our church.
The church building was semi-permanent and falling down. But we kept praying. The women in the community were broken-hearted but they reach out to God in prayer, even when our building is collapsing around us, they don’t loose hope.
I cannot say the change came quickly, but things started happening and God started to open doors. We saw him deliver a miracle in the construction of a house of worship.
There are many things that women can do when they are together, when they are directed towards the cross, towards prayer. God has been opening doors.
What has it been like seeing the women in your community earn a sustainable income?
It’s powerful watching these women move from hopeless to hopeful.
The women in this program started with nothing in their hands and now they’re going to be self-employed and will be earning money right away. Women who may have lived on as little as $1 per day are now in mentorship programs and now have resources. When you start with so little, anything makes a difference and they know how to survive on a little. As their business grows they will be able to maintain and take care of themselves. So they will have the knowledge and resources to remain stable.
God has also been opening our eyes to the needs of the women in our sewing program and showing us that he doesn’t just want them to be breadwinners for their families. But that he also wants all of us to embark on supporting missions. So once they’re established in their trade, they will give back to support the mission work so more women can rise up and the community can be transformed.
How important is faith in the women you work with?
These women are changed because the program offers mentorship. As their lives change economically, they also have the encouragement to grow in their faith as well. We’re not just training them to become business people and forget about God. They’re getting the resources they need to grow economically and spiritually at the same time.
What transformation are you hoping to see? What’s your vision?
We want these women to be transformed because that means that the society will be transformed and they can be stable enough to reach more people with the gospel. The more people who are trained can in turn train and encourage others.
Our vision is to get rid of the spirit of poverty and alcoholism which is now in the village and we are very optimistic that this project of love is going to do that.
How can we pray for you?
Now is the time for action. We ask for prayers that we are encouraged to continue our work and that those who support the ministry continue to do their work. That’s what we are praying for.
We know it’s a big task to get the funds to complete our sewing co-op facility. Through our prayers, it’s going to happen. We are doing the work with money or without.
Learn more about the sewing project, and join us in making communities more like the Kingdom.
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