On the outskirts of Kisumu City, the community of Kochieng has been ravished by HIV. Established in 2017, the Every Life mission base has supported this impoverished community – particularly widows, of all ages, who have had their families torn apart by HIV.
In Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya, 60% of the population live in impoverished communities. In Kenya, 20.9% of the population lives in ‘absolute poverty’ – in Kisumu that number is three times higher. ‘Absolute poverty’ is defined as the condition where household income is below a necessary level to maintain basic living standards (e.g. food and shelter.)
The under-five mortality rate in Kenya is 41 deaths per 1000 live births – almost ten times higher than the UK’s (4.3). At 79 per 1000, Kisumu’s under-five morality rate is almost double the Kenyan average.
Kisumu has been ravished by HIV. 16.3% of the population has it, compared to a national prevalence rate of 4.9%. Nearly one-third of all deaths are HIV related. In Kochieng (the community where Every Life works), almost an entire generation has been lost – leaving elderly widows caring for their young grandchildren.
The elderly caregivers often struggle with sickness themselves, and many are too weak to work in an environment that relies mostly on manual agriculture. As a result, many children are sent to relatives to work as cleaners, guards or cattle farmers, with many other being placed in orphanages.
What we do
FRONTLINE: In a community where poverty is so extreme, meeting immediate needs has been a priority – this has often taken the form of weekly food parcels. This year, we would like to support 50 families, and increase to 100 in 2021.
LIFE GROUPS: Our young widow’s life group focuses on developing business skills and establishing a savings scheme to enable women to establish income-generating projects. All 15 women, plus another 10, are part of our discipleship group which gives people the opportunity to study the Bible and pray together. This year we want to launch three life groups – with one targeting men who are often absent from family life (as a result of fishing being the main occupation).
It’s not just adults we gather together in groups – but also children and young people. Every Saturday, between 100 and 150 come to our children’s club. This is an opportunity for having fun, learning from the Bible, and talking about issues such as a health, relationships, and child protection.
COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS: We met Sarah in 2017, soon after her husband was murdered. She is now the secretary of our savings and loan scheme – a role she takes very seriously and is always looking out for other women who are part of this group. With so many potential life-changing leaders in our Life Groups, this year we would like to equip three more community champions.
Stories of Hope
Catherine cannot walk – her legs have become too stiff and her sight isn’t good. All seven of her children died from suspected HIV and she is cared for by her granddaughter, Rachel. Rachel should be at school but there is no money for that and it’s as much as she can do to provide food for both of them. Yet Catherine sings for joy when she sees us coming and tells us how faithful God has been through her struggles…
Stories of Hope
We met Leah in 2017 after the murder of her husband. Unfortunately, she had almost given up on life and was struggling with three young children. Leah couldn’t get the basics that her family needed to survive and was having difficulties with others in the community. However help arrived just in time… Read her full story here.