You guys know I was back in Kenya in January for a mission trip, and I was really only able to share bits and pieces of the trip here and there. A lot of it has to to, quite frankly, with just protecting the privacy of some of the amazing people that we worked with there… but I am excited to share more about a project that I was working on.
To make a long story short, last year the church that I attend started a ministry in the area of Thika, Kenya called Street Hope. This ministry was very much a “God thing” and our church felt called to help men and women who have been involved in or faced working in the sex trade industry.
Let me make this clear – these men and women are brave and strong. The circumstances that many of them have faced and continue to face, are unimaginable. Whether they ended up in the sex trade industry by coercion or because they felt it was all they could do to survive, I can promise you, it was not by “choice.” Their stories are difficult. Their stories are dark. But their stories are providing hope and their stories are becoming stories of redemption.
Street Hope was created to serve this population and provide an opportunity for sustainable employment and income so that these beautiful people no longer have to make impossible decisions in order to feed and provide for their families. I tell you guys all the time about the importance and the value behind a job. Providing sustainable employment to someone, especially in a developing nation, can truly mean the difference between life and death. This is something I am so passionate about.
These men and women are smart… they don’t want your charity. They don’t want your pity. They don’t want a handout. They want an opportunity to work and to thrive and to contribute to their communities.
So what is Street Hope currently doing?
Right now, Street Hope has a team here in the US providing support and raising funds, and Street Hope also has an amazing team of Kenyans (they are native Kenyans who are living and working in Nairobi / Thika area) who are the hands and feet there.
This was key for us. Having a strong, reliable team on the ground in Kenya doing the work just continues that cycle of empowerment. The team there is amazing. I am in awe of them every day!
Once a man or a woman is chosen to be a participant in Street Hope, they are not only connected to the new Street Hope center that is providing training, counseling, prayer, and support, but also they are given the opportunity for employment through one of two tracks.
One, we are empowering each of them with micro-loan / start-up grants so they are able to start small businesses in their own communities.
This is Margaret. She is an amazing woman who is raising her three grandchildren on her own after her daughter passed. She received a small business grant to begin a Duka (shop) in her community. I even took a picture of her line-item budget because I was so impressed with the forethought and planning that went into it on her part. (The numbers are in Kenyan shillings… not dollars. :))
Second, we are starting an ARTISAN GROUP! This is one of the things that I am so so so so so so so excited about and this is a big reason why I was on this particular trip in January.
We have identified a small group of women who are Street Hope participants who are passionate about creating things and working with their hands. They are going to be paid a living wage, get equal amount of time to work, work in safe conditions, be counseled, trained, prayed for, supported, and empowered. Each member of our Street Hope artisan group will be paid equally and fairly…
I designed a small “capsule” collection of pieces that they’re currently working on making samples of and we will hopefully have some in hand soon! I will be sharing more as more details come out… 🙂
I am SO excited about this. You know my heart for Kenya and my passion for ethically made goods… to be able to work as a small part of starting this artisan group has been such an honor.
So how can you help?
Right now, we are still in the process of raising the last funds for the business grants and the startup funds for the artisan group. We are also raising money for resources and supplies for the Street Hope center.
I would be so thankful if you would donate to this amazing ministry. Here’s how you can donate…
Let me know if you have any questions! Having seen this amazing ministry and the work they are doing firsthand, I can promise you this is something that is truly making a positive impact on lives.
Thank you for your support!