The church in Kenya is vibrant and strong. Kenya has been blessed with an upwardly mobile middle class, a well-educated population and a growing church. In 2007, the Mount Elgon land clash crisis left ninety percent of the region’s inhabitants homeless as winter approached. It served as the impetus to bring together seven of Nairobi’s mega-churches and World Relief. The churches hosted clothing and blanket drives, and World Relief mobilized local interdenominational communities—working with the National Council of Churches in Kenya and the Red Cross—to ensure the 700 most in need received aid.
Local churches bring their time and their resources to the table along with their intimate knowledge of their communities. They are the experts in what the needs are and how to best meet those needs, and we are joining in their work, offering technical and financial resources to complement their work. World Relief and the Kenyan church are partnering to impact the lives of people affected by AIDS, families in poverty and victims of disaster.
“Six years ago, the church in Kenya said, ‘ We don’t want anything to do with AIDS.’ Now they are starting to be engaged. Groups within the church are taking on orphan care and reaching out to people with AIDS. They are saying, ‘we will not let the next generation die from this disease.’” — Josephine Monywuiki, program director
The Church at Work
Nairobi’s plethora of Voluntary Counseling and Testing facilities reflect the country’s decision to face AIDS head on. With 1.3 million people living with HIV, the Kenyan government has encouraged testing and scaled up the provision of antiretroviral treatment. As people discover their status, local churches are learning how to support and care for them them. Pastors attend World Relief seminars and trainings on how to mobilize their congregations. Volunteers are trained to care for the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of the sick.
A second set of church-based volunteers take responsibility for the orphans in their community. Scanning the homes in a 1.2-mile radius, the volunteers inventory the needs of the orphans. They provide emotional support to caregivers, helping them recognize the unique needs of the orphans in their care. They also meet tangible needs by providing school fees, uniforms, food and basic household supplies.
Leaders in the church have decided they will not watch another generation fall prey to AIDS. They are training up youth to make wise decisions that will protect their bodies from AIDS. In schools and churches, World Relief uses our internally-developed Choose Life curricula to teach youth about adolescence and sexuality and challenge them to choose abstinence before marriage. Training peer educators, World Relief develops future leaders in the church and for the country. Through highly-publicized community events, the message is passed to their peers and families, government and business leaders and the press.
In Kenya, things are looking up in the fight against AIDS. Stigma surrounding the disease is down. Employers are more likely to allow people with HIV to continue to work . More than 61,900 youth involved in World Relief’s program have publicly pledged abstinence since the program began. Families are taking family members with AIDS back in. And Kenya is one of the few countries in the world that has actually seen their prevalence rate stop climbing—a sign they are beginning to win the battle.
Looking forward, World Relief will continue to expand our service to the poor as we develop our partnership with Kenya’s mega-churches. As needs arise in the communities we serve, our partnership will enable us to respond quickly, to leverage our funding, prayer and human resources, and to further God’s kingdom in Kenya.
Kenya is slightly larger than two times Nevada
Population is more than 36 million
Nearly half the population lives on less than $1 a day
1 in 10 children dies before age five
Nearly half the population is under age 14
6.1% of adults have HIV