Below is a narrative report from our partner in Kenya, Josephine. These challenges are very common and some of the main reasons that Josephine has given her life to spread these messages and empower women around the whole country of Kenya. Her English is not perfect and the text has only been lightly edited.
The journey started well with four facilitators. The main reason for requesting for this training is because women in this region marry as young as 11 years. They are booked in pregnancy and dowry starts getting paid. By the time girls are born, they already have husbands as old as their grandfather. Below are the church leaders who our coordinator convinced to allow us to train.
The one on the right with checkered coat is the church District Church Council chairman Rev Mbatha. The man on the left with black jacket is the local church pastor who did all church protocols the first day but didn’t do it again because he really wanted to capture every detail. It is another community who send men to go and test waters before they allow women. When we met them, we told them that the person with passion for women and sponsored the training was a woman so we would do a great disservice if we started the training without women. After one hour, there were 120 participants but we gave 102 certificates because they attended fully.
We were very impressed by these women who developed courage the second day. They would ask so many questions and I would take the opportunities to welcome them in front to come and ask their questions while I extended their time in front of men.
We opened up a discussion on the third day about what women can do. Men said that women in that community are for child bearing. Five women stood at once and each said that there are men who came to the seminar but have not understood who we all are “created in God’s image” as His image bearers and likeness. That we all have one head, heart and power to think and create like God. Women said that they respected pastors very much but they cannot question or express their feelings while the pastor is at the pulpit.
The women said their male boys are drug addicts, the girls are married off while still at a children’s age, but now they have realized that they can make change. They said that the area is good for honey growing, digging wells to irrigate fruit seedlings, a good place to grow hay and preserve to feed cows during drought season. The debate heated up again after I taught culture and world view, how culture has bound women and even the church does not empower women and even less the widows.
I called a woman to come and conduct a song and do according what the woman did. They cooperated. It was amazing.
The men even so still had reservations and said that there are fruit trees that women are not supposed to touch and eat the fruit because it is meant to empower men to think progress and do progress. That women are not supposed to even go close to the tree. I dared the second day to go to where the tree was, touched it, and ate some fruit that men were eating. I am still the same. They were surprised that nothing changed and we did our work safely and peacefully.
Redeemed by Jesus, women are redeemed I felt the way Jesus felt when He shouted for Lazarus to be unwrapped.
When I presented the topic on setting people free, another discussion initiated by women was fiery. The pastors were asked to go along with identified old community men leaders to go and start reconstructing or deconstruction of culture system to give women freedom and to start doing what they see is right, and not be seen as disobedient.
Action plans were done with the groups and work started immediately. The seed money you gave helped them take off. Now even me agreed that God used women as He wished.
For the first time, church leadership in this locality had a closing ceremony in and for their community done by women. Also the men, they got certificates just like the rest. So humbling, this transformation.
Yatta (a woman in the community) desperately needs the training. A neighbor, a man who attended the training cried on the second day. He says that young girls are used to enlarge families. A legal wife is married and gives birth to two children. She needs another three to make 5 but doesn’t want to give birth, so she looks for a girl and she chooses men who will give birth with the girl but the children will be hers. Girls have no option for there is dowry paid to the father for this. They need to be freed.