Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mothers' Union

Many of you know how important the Mothers' Union is to the welfare of the children in the 38 parishes in the Diocese of Maseno North. Nan Hardison has helped the neighbor ladies assume responsibility for the orphans in their communities. Their programs teach and feed about 500 kids per site per Saturday. The food, crunchy hot corn and beans, or githeri, has traditionally been supplied through outright grants from individual churches in the U.S. It costs about $4000/year per site. The mobile medical clinics that Dr. Hardison and the hospital staff provide cost an additional $5000/year per site to provide. Because of limited resources, only sixteen feeding programs and five medical clinics currently exist. Bishop Oketch and the Mothers' Union have suggested micro-lending as an alternative means of funding, in an effort to resolve the inequities and ultimately make the feeding programs available to all 38 parishes in the diocese.

I accompanied Nan this morning to the weekly Mothers' Union meeting, where she helped seven more parishes complete their applications for micro-loans ranging from 20,000 KSh ($250) to 50,000 KSh ($625). One program has already been funded, and Nan expects that an additional eight parishes, totaling sixteen, will be in process by the end of November. That's almost half of the parishes in Maseno North, so the caregivers were quite excited. Several business projects are planned, including farming of grains (using the labor of the women and older children, not hired help), sales of "paraffin"/kerosene for cooking within the community (short-cutting the long walk to the paraffin businesses located many kilometers away along the highway), and sewing (purchasing more fabric for parishes with machines).

Nan also announced that donors were sending money to provide rice, instead of corn, to go with the beans for the orphan program at Christmas time -- a real treat for the kids! Much hand-clapping, hymn-singing, "Bwana Asifiwe's" ("Praise God's") and "Ai-yi-yeee's" ensued. As always, Nan encouraged them, "You go, Girls!"

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