Bumping down the pothole-riddled Kenyan road, our team arrived at a resettlement village.
Jikaze was destitute 145 weatherworn tents that sat 100 feet off the dusty highway. The village was home to the survivors of tribal warfare. In the conflict six hundred thousand were left homeless and over 1500 killed. The survivors lost everything family, homes, and jobs. They were displaced and despairing.
We wanted to provide education for the community, a key tool to break the long term cycle of generational poverty. Previously we had built up the facilities at a school in the Kibera slum and another in Mombasa. With the average family living on $0.30 per day we felt we could serve Jikaze by providing education for their youth as well.
Within minutes 1,000 Kenyan survivors gathered around us, ushering us to a circle of plastic chairs where the community leaders awaited. The needs were obvious and we yearned to help. Christine, speaking on behalf of the community, responded to our goal of establishing a boarding school for the children: “You are right that our children need education, but, more than education, we need food and jobs. Our children sell themselves to truckers who give them money for food in exchange for sexual pleasures.” Christine’s pleaded, “We are desperate for work.”
This kind of poverty can’t be felt through a statistic, but begs a response. With the permission of the community leaders we sprang into action. Uhuru Child, now renamed Freedom Global, began a holistic approach to bring programs and hope to the village. The community needed emergency food relief but as crises were resolved, we moved toward job development solutions. We partnered with Global Connections to replace tattered tents with community built mud homes, joined hands with the Polish Embassy to provide water to the community, and brought in an organization to grant micro-finance loans.
We learned that of the 1,000 people 29 were farmers prior to the post election violence. With the communities blessing we purchased one greenhouse and employed nine adults to grow and sell produce our first social business. The produce flourished, first one greenhouse, then three, five and seven. One acre of land became five, ten, then thirty. Before long we were not only giving employment in one community but we were hiring staff an hour away to help with the processing of the produce, selling to the top three distributors in Kenya and renting land in various parts of the country to test corn and wheat growth.
The model for Freedom Global began to take shape. The goal was to create businesses that would both give employment and invest profits into an all girls boarding school, Uhuru Academy, we started in 2013. Investing in lives through business and education naturally opened the doors for us to share Christ love with our students and staff through our discipleship programs.
Where are we today?
Today, Freedom Global is making a larger impact in the developing world than ever before.
Our leadership in Kenya is a team of Westerners and Kenyan nationals. Today’s businesses now encompass a farm selling produce, pigrearing, a dairy cow farm, and Freedom Artisans a company that purchases and designs products in Kenya to sell in the USA.
In November of 2015, Uhuru Academy celebrated its first graduating class of seniors. Our Academy’s renown education, which teaches critical thinking within a learner centered methodology, is also training our education strategy to teachers in other schools.
In 2015 we also saw our largest growth in our Christian discipleship programs. We weekly mentor students and staff, lead bible studies, and teach life skills through GLOW club. This strategy has opened the door for us to not only disciple our students, but also mentor Somali students at an Islamic school and disciple students at a vocational training home for women with mental and physical disabilities.
Freedom Global started in Kenya and has a vision to expand around the world. We invite you to come to Kenya on a service trip with us. Join us in standing in awe of how God is redeeming broken lives in Kenya, come build relationships with our students, work beside our staff on the farm, pray along side us, and then come back to the United States energized to help us expand our network and impact.