The h.o.w? women of Kinangop always greet our mission teams with songs, praise, joy, and hugs. All of them have endured hardships and are working with us to help raise themselves and their families out of poverty.
They've inspired us with their enthusiasm, amazed us with their ingenuity, and humbled us with their devotion and courage. The group has evolved from one primarily comprised of widows to a close-knit sisterhood that includes all kinds of women, some of whom are married or younger and unwed. All of them are working hard to empower themselves and provide for their families. And many of them are also becoming leaders in helping others.
Our newest member, Monica studied up to class eight then started working as a house helper in Nairobi. After four years of employment she got married and had two children: a girl who is about 13 and a boy who is about 11. Both currently live with their dad.
Elishifa is doing great. She has not been sick and she has shared with the other ladies how thankful she is that h.o.w? Ministry paid for her medication for an entire year. Elishifa is looking beautiful and very strong.
Cecelia is in love with her new bundle of joy, a baby girl named Teresia, who was born in March 2016. Cecelia says that she loves her baby so much and is looking forward to being a great mom to her.
Milkah suffered severe burns as a child, and has blossomed since our Arise Women’s Conference to become a woman with confidence and grace, and an accomplished seamstress. She has a daughter, Taylor.
Ruth was widowed in 2000, and was left with six children. Ruth’s husband was a drunkard when alive and sold all their property to pay off his debts. After his death, she was left with no land and a small house that she shares with her children.
Cucu Mary (Cucu is a Kikuyu term of affection that means “grandmother” and is pronounced like “show show”) is a wise lady who has been providing leadership for the h.o.w? women by giving advice.
CuCu Ruth, the oldest of the h.o.w? widows and one the funniest, too, was hospitalized earlier this year, and we are glad to hear she is improving.
In 2015, donors surprised us with funds to provide Rose with a new home on land next to Mary, for whom she serves as caregiver. She and her son are now all moved in! She used to own a secondhand clothing shop in Eldoret before political violence broke out and she was forced to flee.
In 2015, we surprised Margret with the deed and title to her home where she had lived as a squatter for 40 years.
Hannah was widowed in 1994. She lives with her grandchild, who was abandoned by her son. She says that the money that she earns in making jewelry goes to employ a helper to till her land and to buy food.
Jane is the daughter-in-law to Milka Muthoni, who was an original member of the group until she died of HIV/AIDS in 2006. Jane has a daughter whom she named Milka and is now a mother of two. Jane and her husband are the custodians of their late mother’s water tank and cow.
Anne Michael was the youngest widow at h.o.w? (now remarried). She is uneducated and has been nurtured by the widows. She occasionally offers to bead for the older ladies in turn as they help her in caring for her young children during the times when she tills other peoples’ land.
Julia was sent out of her house after the death of her husband and went back to her parents’ house. She was left to look after their four children, all of whom are very bright.
Jane loves being referred to as The Short Lady, and is a leader of the group. She is grateful that h.o.w? has provided funds to provide food for her family. She is very skilled at knitting and is fast at beading.
Emmah got married in 1988 and became a widow in 1995. Emmah was left to fend for their three children — two boys and one girl.
Esther has four girls. She was widowed in October 2002. She is thankful that by the time her husband was dying with AIDS, he transferred his inherited land of seven acres in her name. Being a father and mother to her girls has proved difficult especially in male-dominated society such as Kinangop.
Grace was a niece to a deceased widow, Veronicah. She has taken in and is now caring for two of Veronicah’s granddaughters after she passed away over Easter 2013. We are thankful to Grace for adopting the girls.
Divorced with three children, Jane has tilled land, sold firewood, washed clothes and beaded jewelry to provide for her family’s basic needs but is now earning money from dairy farming. She says that she is happy that it is paying off. She earns a monthly income from selling milk.
Grace is a widow who cares for her three grandchildren, whom she was left with after the death of her sons. She believes God has a reason for every circumstance.
Hannah has three children, two boys and one girl. She was widowed in 2005 by AIDS. Her husband had become very sick but she never suspected that he had HIV.
Serah is married and lives with her five children and a grandchild, Sammy, who is severely disabled. Serah joined the group when her son was ill with heart problems. He succumbed before he could receive a transplant.
Margret is doing well and is healthy. She planted potatoes on her farm after all the maize that she had planted withered from the frost that greatly affected the Kinangop region.
Mary is an accomplished and sought-after seamstress and is the primary provider for her autistic and severely disabled son, Sammy.
Beatrice has eight children, three children who live in her home, and five grandchildren. Her health and diet are her main challenges.
Hannah has been very sickly in the past, but she is a great fighter. She says that whenever she is bedridden she remembers her son John and reminds God that she still has some work to do in his life.
Peninah is quiet and shy. She has a very warm, endearing smile. Her spirit is soft and kind. She is skilled at knitting and crochet.
Teresia separated from her husband after he abandoned his family and went to live with a another woman. She was left to care for their eight children, one of whom is disabled. She saved to buy land and took out a loan to build a small home, and paid for it with milk money.
Julia lives with her son and two of her grandchildren, and is an accomplished basket weaver. Two of her children died of AIDS and she was left to care for her orphaned grandchildren.
Mary was blinded by illness. She is on medication and is assisted by one of the h.o.w? widows on a day-to-day basis. She has been inspired by many positive stories she has heard about people with disabilities taking care of themselves and doing their normal chores around the house. Prayer alert: In August this year, Mary got…
Josephine has five children and three grandchildren. She suffered a stroke a few years ago not long after one of her sons gave out her h.o.w? water tank and cow as collateral for a loan, then defaulted. In 2014 we surprised her with a new water tank and cow.
Zipporah has been blessed with four children, three of whom still stay with her. Her husband left her 4 acres of land, but since his death Zipporah has had especially challenging problems with her mother-in-law.