I was born and raised in the countryside in Gitombo, a small village in Kenya, Africa. I came to the US to attend Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado in September, 2000. Since my graduation in 2004, I have been working as chaplain in Denver. After living in the relative ease of the US, I began to think about my village, sensing a need to change some ways of life. For one, I developed a desire to do something about the impoverished lives of the majority of the people in Gitombo. As early as I could remember, my father was always making efforts to develop our village. One of his major concerns was water. While he had been opposed to my coming to the US, once I was here he asked me to seek support to make water accessible to the people of Gitombo. In 2002, an opportunity presented itself when I happened to share about my life in a Sunday school class, unaware that, the pastor’s wife was in attendance. She went home and talked about me and the village to her husband, the pastor. This compassionate and mission-minded pastor felt prompted to help my village get accessible water. He took the need to the church’s missions committee for assistance upon which they asked to provide details. My dad was so excited about the news. He went out of his way to have a survey and report completed immediately and sent it to me. Unfortunately, the pastor left the church soon after, and with his going, so went the water project efforts. I was discouraged, and so was my dad. However, the idea did not die.
PAAV vision is born
In 2003, an idea came to me while I was still at the Denver Seminary. While considering the idea of child sponsorship, and realizing how limited that would be in terms of meeting the needs of only some, I realized my entire village needed the adoption! The idea of “Project Adopt A Village” was born. I envisioned people from the US adopting the whole village. The thought seemed funny as I imagined a group of couples visiting the village and working alongside the people of Gitombo. An interesting sidebar to all this would be for our African men to see American men doing domestic chores traditionally assigned to women! For example, in Gitombo men do not go to the kitchen and do not hold babies – simply because they are men! In addition to exposure to different models of behavior, the people of Gitombo would be empowered to realize their own resourcefulness. Together with others, they would become involved in activities that would result in the transformation of their lives and the village at large. I wrote all these ideas down in many subsequent journals over the ensuing years. The development and transformation of Gitombo has stayed with me since that day.
PAAV Vision and Family Involvement
In 2007, while in a Sunday service in another church in Denver, my thoughts traveled back to Gitombo village. This time the vision was of a multi-purpose building that would house a community hall, a library, a clinic, kindergarten, etc. I may not have paid attention to what was going on in the service that day, but I believe God spoke to me! I put down my thoughts in the margins of a church bulletin. At the end of the service, I asked a woman sitting next to me to pray with me about the vision. The idea was so real that I hurried home to call my dad before he slept (Kenya is 9 or 10 hrs ahead of us, depending on the season). I talked to my dad and asked him to donate a piece of land. His response was: “if you are sure that this is something worth uprooting coffee trees,” he would not be opposed. However, he added, such an important matter should not be discussed via phone. He suggested that I come home and we discuss the proposal as a family. I come from a large family: my parents, four brothers, three sisters, my son, and many nieces and nephews.
Soon I began to plan my visit and in May, 2008, I traveled home. The year 2008 was a traumatic time in the nation due to tribal clashes triggered by the December, 2007 national elections. It so happened that my elder brother and his family lived in the part of Kenya where the clashes were intense, and they were directly affected. By the grace of God they escaped, traveled home and moved in with my parents. My other siblings are scattered all over Kenya. During my visit we held a family reunion weekend in Nairobi, during which time we discussed many family matters and the issue of land. I returned to the US, not knowing that would be the last time I would see my dad. In September, 2008, he unexpectedly passed away. When I returned to Kenya to attend his funeral, I was gratified to see the way in which he was honored because of his life and accomplishments in the community.
Neither of my parents had formal education, yet in spite of that, they moved away from their ancestral home, relocated to a new village, and built a new life in Gitombo. Through hard work and entrepreneurship, my parents bought and developed their farm. Their life accomplishments remain a challenge to my life! They brought up and educated eight children, helped other relatives, and reached out to neighbors. In the 1960s my dad was instrumental in starting a village community water project, which supplied water to the entire village for about two decades. This project was the pride of the area until the 1980s, when older folks passed it on to the younger generation. The water project became run down due to lack of proper management and the inevitability of fast population increase. I am proud that I grew up in this village. I feel an affinity to the people and appreciate my early years and the memories. I am, however, surprised by the realization that even after so many years; the village has economically and socially not changed! Now that my father is gone, I sense a desire to build upon his overriding aspiration to develop and transform our village.
PAAV is born
After the burial, I returned to the US. I lived with much sorrow and by 2010 I had to do something constructive with my grief. In November-December 2010, I applied for family leave from my employer to return home. I deliberately chose to spend most of my time in Gitombo with my mother. My stay in the village gave me ample time for reflection, but also helped to lighten my grief. The PAAV vision which had been developing for years gained momentum. I gained a stronger challenge and a passionate desire to make a difference in the village.
I became determined to build upon the work and vision my dad had for the village, combining it with my own vision. This thought makes happy: I am doing this for God; for Gitombo; and for my dad! I know I have a God-given vision for this project.
The project will bring about a comprehensive community development; change people’s attitudes and way of living; do away with old and oppressive ways of life and adopt new ways that would bring the village into the 21st century. The project will enlist the participation of the local people in Gitombo as well as outsiders, and will function as a model to be emulated by other villages throughout Kenya; opening opportunities for children to be exposed to the outside world and live out their dreams, develop their God-given talents, and fulfill their purposes. They will then be encouraged to take ownership of the village, develop leaders and have young people finish school. As it stands now, children drop out of schools due to lack of school tuition, lack of support and motivation. Adult literacy is another major concern. Many older adults would benefit from adult education.
The health status of the population, especially for children and women, is another major concern. During one of my visits in the village, a woman sought my help because she had been told she has cancer. According to her story, she had miscarried months before and had since been bleeding! There are many horrifying stories of women dying in childbirth and infant mortality and other similar incidents that should not be happening! Evidently, this sort of life has been accepted as a normal way of life. It is unacceptable! Knowing that most of the unfortunate incidents and prevailing illnesses could be preventable through health education and basic hygiene, I feel a passionate desire to seek help to empower the people of Gitombo, resulting in the transformation of the entire village.
PAAV humble beginnings: Party for Gitombo children December 2010
Before going home for the two month family leave, friends in Denver had given me gifts for the children of Gitombo – developmental toys, school supplies, shoes, t-shirts and hygiene items. I went home with seven suitcases! While I had in mind giving gifts to a lesser number of kids, I was amazed at the population increase and was at a loss as to how to dispense the gifts. My family members, who had come home for Christmas, came up with the idea of hosting a Christmas party for all the children in Gitombo. Along with the great idea, my family contributed to and planned the party to be held on December 26, 2010. We had a very large turn-out of kids in our compound that afternoon. God provided and somehow every child went home after having something to eat and receiving a gift from the US. I however, did not share their joy. Interestingly, I went to bed that night frustrated and discouraged, because while dispensing the gifts, some of the children had become unruly and failed to line up as a way of creating order. More than that, some children were openly dishonest, pushing ahead and coming back a second time to get gifts while others had none. Additionally, some of the older children would snatch from the younger ones. Why am I sharing this? That night God confronted me on my attitude. He helped me to see the unfortunate situation from another perspective. The question I felt God was asking me was “why do I think the children behaved that way?” He reminded me that I too may have behaved in the same way but for his grace. That night the idea of reaching out to the children in a compassionate way was reinforced.
One Sunday Morning
I returned to the US in January 2011, with both a desire and a challenge to do something about Gitombo village. It was overwhelming. For the next two months I was desperate and frustrated, not knowing what to do or how to begin. One Sunday morning, March 5, 2011, as I was thinking about it all and crying to God, God pointedly spoke to me about the project for Gitombo. This time I sensed the Lord saying: “open up Gitombo” to the outside world. I did not know what that entailed. All I could do then was write. And write and write I did that whole morning. I wrote out the PAAV vision and plan. Soon, I began to share the vision with my family and friends, mostly via email. I received heartening and encouraging responses. I do not remember anyone saying anything negative. The responses could all be summed up in the question: “How come you never did this before?”
I became so passionate about the PAAV vision and shared it with anyone who cared to listen! One thing was obvious: Water had to be a priority. My dad had always been right about this. My biggest problem was then how to raise support. With a few of my concerned and mission-minded friends, we began to think about forming a non-profit organization. We explored many avenues. PAAV has since become a project of stories orchestrated by divine appointments, relationships, and networking! I have sensed God’s approval in the project all along the way.
Back in Kenya, my family looked for a local company that would take on the drilling project. Different companies gave quotations. Finally the “Qara Agencies Ltd, Borehole Drilling Contractors was selected and contracted to help with the drilling. Qara Agencies began by carrying out a water survey of Gitombo, upon which they sent a detailed report. I gave the report to one of the PAAV members, a Colorado water engineer, to review and give comments. His feedback was very positive, describing the report as professionally done. PAAV then requested Qara to go forward and apply for a permit to begin drilling. Compared to American costs, their charges were relatively reasonable. Moreover, it felt right to use a local company that would also work with the local people to ensure Gitombo’s community ownership of the project.
Qara Agencies understood right from the beginning that that this is a compassionate project that would depend on donations. So that way they would need to patiently work with us. The cost of the project, according to their estimate given in Kenyan Shillings would cost KShs.3,934,500. 00 ( in dollars that would be between $40-45,000 dollars), depending upon the exchange rate and changing cost of materials. The figure was overwhelming, and I requested they divide the project into three phases, which they gracefully did. Payment schedules for the same are as follows:
Phase 1 – Documentation and Drilling – 1,853,500 (Kenyan Shillings)
Phase 2 – Supply and Installation of Borehole
Phase 3 – Piping
In October, 2011 I was connected to a lady named Cyndi, who has since donated many hours to PAAV creating the website and doing other computer-related tasks with a big heart! Thank you, Cyndi for all you have done and continue to do! Only God can repay you, my friend. Cyndi has since relocated to Conshhocken, PA and is no longer in Colorado. Yes, she has relocated but her desire to help PAAV-Gitombo remains in the same place – her heart!
In April, 2011, Dori and her husband opened their home in Englewood, Colorado to hold another PAAV jewelry event. This event, led by Glea with the support of Dori, MaryAnne, Shirley, and Judy (who donated her own hand-made jewelry), raised over $7,000.00. This included a grant donation of $2,500.00 from Caryn through the Denver Foundation, Colorado. This is another example of God’s favor on PAAV: to have a family trust donated to PAAV, for the sake of the people of Gitombo!
In June, 2012, Jared another PAAV member offered to hold a fundraiser BBQ at his Miner’s Maze Amusement Park at Heritage Square on Sunday, July 22, 2012. This event demonstrated, leaving no doubt, that God has been orchestrating PAAV. The event raised $5,000! Praise God! To me, the biggest miracle was the compassion factor. I was amazed at the way mission-oriented people, consisting of both friends and other people I met for the first time, gave of themselves, their time, and finances to the project. They invited friends to join them in this wonderful venture. Jared rallied his staff to do their best. Bel Mar Baptist church provided all the food and drinks, went above and beyond, as their pastors flipped burgers and hot dogs in the scorching heat with a contagious, enthusiastic spirit. All the other volunteers joyfully contributed: a family and friends live band organized by my boss at work; a Kenyan mother-daughter duet, jewelry sales, face painting, puppet show etc. This was indeed a Miner’s Maze- PAAV -True Impact-and friends partnership!
Most PAAV donations come through individuals, and especially friends. One of my friends donated her entire income tax return. Another lady saved for five months to make a substantial amount. I have received donations from the residents of Christian Living Communities, who gave donations amounting to over $3000.00 from funds collected during Chapel offerings for an extended period. When we were close to drilling, we lacked finances, Georgia and Joe Berger, active members of PAAV presented a request to Our Father Lutheran Church who came to our rescue by donating $1500.00! Other wonderful friends have diligently been sending monthly donations. Every dollar has counted. On April 1, 2012, another PAAV member visited Southern Sudan, and while there he decided to visit Gitombo. His visit is another step towards deepening relationships between the people of Gitombo and my American friends. Thank you, every one of you! I am only a bridge between you and the people of Gitombo as I obey and open up Gitombo to you and other interested people!
Jesus charge: “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matt 25:40.
The Bore Hole Drilling
In November, 2012, heavy equipment landed in Gitombo village, to the amazement of the residents! The borehole was drilled 250 meters (820 ft) deep and the casing was completed! The Gitombo people were so ecited. The dream of having water flowing in Gitombo is half-way won. A glaring need for an electrical powerful pump remains. Raising funds for this is in process. A total of $14,000.00 is needed for acquisition and installation. The water will be pumped into a medium-sized storage tank, already standing and waiting. In the future, a bigger storage tank will be constructed. Water will then be piped two miles down to the village. My desire has been for the people of Gitombo to come up with the funds for Phase three, to purchase the pipes. It is obvious that this has been a struggle and overwhelming for them. PAAV will continue to raise funds and hope that we can also assist the villagers with Phase three. The residents of Gitombo will however, be instrumental in digging the trenches and bringing the water into their own individual compounds, and ultimately be responsible for monthly payments.
In December, 2012, I travelled to Kenya. I held a meeting with the Gitombo committee members. Together we planned a meeting for the entire village. This meeting took place on December 27th and was very well-attended, representing all populations. It was evident from the meeting that the people of Gitombo are very pleased with PAAV. They vowed to do the best they can to participate in the envisioned community development which will be instrumental in having their lives and the village transformed. (More on my trip can be seen in the updates on the PAAV-Gitombo website.)
The consensus from the meeting was that it was crucial to have a leadership program in the village. Evidently, leadership education/skills are greatly lacking. The desire is to have training take place in the village to ultimately identify and single out a few potential younger people to own and champion PAAV activities. Water is life. Life will indeed change for all the people with the availability of clean drinking water for good health and hygiene; food production; water for their domestic animals etc.
In the meeting, the desire to build a multi-purpose community center was emphasized. This will be the next PAAV project. The center will serve as the hub of the village, and with proper creativity and management, can be instrumental in income-generating activities, while acting also as a training center for the village.
The fundraising continues. Mission-minded friends and donors have continued to give support, either as one time gift or on monthly basis. I have received checks from people who have come to know about PAAV-Gitombo through my friends or others. In February, Our Father Lutheran Church came into the scene once again by giving $3.000.00 a substantial amount that has made a huge impact to the pump fund-raising drive! The Lord bless you all for making efforts to support the efforts of PAAV to adopt, empower and transform the people of Gitombo! True Impact has promised to contribute a substantial amount towards this second phase. I believe very soon we will have Phase two – pump acquisition and installation accomplished! Thank you fellow partners!
Mr Kamau, the Gitombo Village elder assures me of the expressed appreciation by the Gitombo community. They are appreciative of you all and what you have done and are doing for them. They constantly remember you all in their prayers, and they can pray! I join in that, and truly express my appreciation of you all as well. Without your support PAAV would not be in existence. I remain a humble bridge between you and Gitombo.
True Impact has informed me that they and a team mostly made up of young people will spend one day in June, 2013 in Gitombo, on their way back from Uganda. While in Gitombo they will visit, give gifts and form relationships with the people of Gitombo. This will be Andy’s second visit, the first being on October 2011. In retrospect I reflect on March 2011 when God asked me to open up Gitombo for others. Within three years, this has started to happen. The little village of Gitombo is welcoming visitors from beyond the hills and oceans. The vision to see Gitombo transformed lives on! There are many opportunities for carrying out many kinds of ministry in the future. Soon Gitombo will become a model to be emulated by other surrounding areas!
I plan on visiting Gitombo in August, 2013 and welcome anyone who wishes to join me in the trip to contact me, so we can plan early. The trip will include time in Gitombo village:
- To meet and visit with the people of Gitombo, to teach children or adults, encourage/ inspire, or share a talent/skill, etc, Assuming that by this time we will have water then, it will be fitting to hold a village-wide celebration meeting to thank God for how far He has brought us “Ebenezer.” (Still planning and working on the details for that.)
- A Kenyan game safari will be included!
- Experience an African wedding — my son is getting married on August 30th.
Two ladies are making plans to travel with me. I look forward to your support in all these endeavors. Please feel free to contact me any time.
One final thought to leave with you: Part of my desire is to collect books, good utensils, good musical instruments, developmental toys, Veggie Tales, etc to ship to Gitombo in the future. I need to explore this to ascertain whether this is a viable endeavor. It breaks my heart at times to see so many unread and sometimes, sorry to say, discarded books and other items while there is such a glaring need for reading materials in the Village. How I desire to see the children exposed to life outside Gitombo in a good moral development way! For now this is an idea, a dream, at this point. Who knows, you may be reading this and want to run away with it! Go for it! There is no limit to how much we can do if we put our hearts to it! Thank you all for all of your support and encouragement!
July 2016 Update
Read about our Banquet in April, the May-June trip to Gitombo, and project updates in our PAAV-Gitombo newsletter.
Humble Beginnings: Photos from the first New Hope School
September /October 2014 Update
I know you have continued to pray for Gitombo B. Thank you for your great support. We do the best we can trusting God all the way. And with that support I carry on with a strong conviction that we will help transform the Gitombo B community.
A lot has been happening. I have weekly and biweekly communication with Gitombo as they work together in the three committee teams responsible for water distribution, which is going very well!, the New Hope School class with 20 children, and the proposed school construction. The school building will soon become a reality. May you find joy and fulfillment as you send donations to help with buying the needed building materials: stones, sand, cement, etc. Please scroll down to see some photos of the school and the children.
My hope is that we can finish phase one (cost: $100, 000.00) of the building and have two classes, a library and a community hall ready in January 2015. The people of Gitombo are ready to work on the foundation. Let us join them with the materials.
I will keep you posted. Thank you for all of you that have been sending donations.
Please see the attached
September 2014 Update
May 2014 Newsletter – Click on this link to view the Newsletter with stories and photos
February 2014 Newsletter – Click on this link to view the Newsletter with stories and photos
2013 Kenya Trip
My American friends Connie, Debbie, and Glea and I had a wonderful, wonderful time in Kenya. We spent most of our time in Gitombo, Kenya where I grew up. My friends interacted with the village and formed relationships with Gitombo people. They became good friends with my mother, siblings and many other family members. Do not ask me how they communicated with my mother who does not speak English as such, same as other older folks in the village.
Glea, spent two days in teaching women beading, Debbie followed the third day teaching sewing, and Connie taught hygiene. They also distributed “goodies” and clothing in the village. The Gitombo people were so impressed with them. I think it worked both ways; they visibly hugged and touched! The three women will share more of this in their articles found elsewhere in the website.
The water celebration event went very well. We were amazed at the creativity evident among the various groups in Gitombo: children, youth, and the women but sadly no men. The groups had us extremely entertained as they had prepared dances, drama with meaningful skits, poems etc. It was obvious from the presentations that Gitombo has lots of skills, resources, and untapped potential. All the songs and dances majored on “mae” (water), narrating how life has been difficult without mae, but they were now thanking God that their lives are being changed.
When it was my turn to speak, I talked about all of you-their beloved and celebrated American friends who have made water be accessible in Gitombo! Of which they were so grateful and kept on asking me to pass on their appreciation to you. I also talked about the late Dorothy Roy who had come to love the village and had initiated the idea of celebrating water with ice cream! See the whole story elsewhere in the website.
Their desire and ultimate goal of the Gitombo people is evidently, to have a tap inside each compound. That part of the project I emphasized and they agreed at the meeting will be done by them. Americans having helped with drilling and piping the water, it is only fair that the people of Gitomb too contribute in some measure for purposes of ownership and stewardship of this precious commodity! They saw my point! There are so many opportunities for varied ministries in Gitombo. Now that water is available, the people are planning on improved lives. Presently, they are working hard to raise money for registration and water meters. The registration and monthly contributions will go towards the pump system maintenance but also pay for their metered water. All these are decisions being worked and made by at the village. It is gratifying to see community at work!
The ice cream was served at the event but 4 hrs later! In our thinking we had timed to have it early to avoid melting. We however, got so caught up in the event and forgot the ice cream inside the truck! When the young men were sent to go bring many ice cream containers, the children were asked to line up with their bowls. I had previously requested them to bring a bowl and a spoon. Through Dorothy Roy ice cream fundraising project, we had bought lots of ice cream for everyone in the village. None however, had anticipated the interest ice cream generated. Understandably so, since some people had never tasted let alone seen ice cream. With some pushing around us we served this delicacy to both young and old! From that experience I think, it would have made it easier if we had taken a cue from Jesus when in Mark 6, He had asked the disciples to have the five thousand people sit in groups before serving them! Well, it was an experience we will never forget! Thanks again, to the late Dorothy Roy who came up with the idea of “ice cream for Gitombo”!
We thank God that water is now available. PAAV is open to have missions go to Gitombo with a safari as part of the package for those interested in that! Some people have already expressed that desire. In my last meeting with the village, it was clear that the people are concerned about the fast growing population of children. This concern is especially for children ages 4-7. While the older ones are able to walk long distances to school outside Gitombo, this population is vulnerable. The meeting decided on starting a kindergarten for the kids in January. Three retired teachers volunteered to teach these children even under a tree as long as they have the materials. There was also a verbalized concern about adult education. Someone said it is unacceptable to have people who cannot read or write! Again, some others volunteered to champion this program to help their brothers and sisters. To accomplish all this it was decided to have weekly non-denominational prayers/fellowship held on Thursdays at 4:00pm. Majority of the people are laborers earning a dollar or less. A multi-purpose building is evidently needed, a building that will function both as a school and fellowship hall.
I cannot get Gitombo children and the women out my mind! If you are interested in making a difference and start a pre-school for 3-5 year olds in January, please join in and send your donation for PAAV-Gitombo to True Impact Ministries.
My Son’s Wedding
A week before the wedding of my son Rickie and his wife Emi, the itara was held. Itara is a traditional event that allows the family of the girl especially the women, to come see “the home,” where she was going to be married. My family, friends, and neighbors came to receive them. Thank God for community! We all had a good time eating and bonding. Emi’s family brought gifts and we in return sent them off with some gifts!
A week later the wedding took place. I can say for myself that I was impressed by the young people. The wedding was beautiful, creatively done to accommodate both the traditional Kenyan and western way of doing weddings. The wedding lasted a whole day. Early in the morning the women from the bridegroom side went to get the bride from her mother’s home, singing and dancing.
We then proceeded to the garden where wedding was to held. My son was anxiously waiting. The ceremony interesting and fun, conducted in both English and Swahili. Following the wedding ceremony the bridal party left to go rest, while the guests proceeded to the reception area to enjoy a wonderful lunch. When the bridal motorcade appeared later, hooting to alert the guests of their arrival, we all went to meet the bride with singing and dancing- everyone joined in. It is a wonderful thing to behold both young and old making some moves to the music and in response to the shared joy. It was a day of rejoicing in God who had made it happen as the songs explained.
We went on a three-day and two-nights safari to Masaai Mara, one of the most celebrated/reknown national parks in Kenya. We saw many animals including the Big Five – minus one – the leopard! I suspect he saw us. We were fortunate as our tour guide informed us to witness one of the seven wonders of the world- the migration of wildebeests in hundreds, crossing the Mara River from Kenya to Tanzania. We enjoyed that wonder for hours. Later we were hungry, and in need of the bathroom! Our tour guide conveniently drove us to the “bathrooms” in the bush, in the middle of wildlife country and said “help yourselves!” Nature calling overrode any inhibitions! We then had a picnic and proceeded on with the tour. On our way home from Masaai Mara, we visited a Masaai village, where we interacted with the masaai people, and thankfully they allowed us to go inside their manyattas (houses).
That was a short summary of my trip. Please feel free to come either talk to me, Connie, Debbie, and Glea who travelled with me. Be on the lookout for their articles. Thank you all! Prayer does change our perspective and gives us confidence to move on knowing that God is with us and for us! Thank you and God bless you all!
Report on the Fundraising Dinner in July
Thank you so much for your support and prayers, and for coming to the PAAV July 20 event. Thanks to all of you who provided the different ethnic foods – great food! Preparing and serving all the food was very time-consuming but the love you put into it made a huge difference. We had great discussions around the food! Thank you for all you did. Only God can repay you! The same goes to the hosts and all who helped with set-up and behind the scenes preparations. Special thanks to Miss Glea for the time she took to creatively display the jewelry. She put lots of work into the beautiful display. Thanks to True Impact for bringing Gitombo to us through the slides of their visit to the village. Asante sana.
About $1,290.00 was raised at the dinner and $315.00 from the jewelry sales that day. Last week I received some more donations from people who were not able to make it to the event. God bless you all! Please note that we are still open to receiving donations for the Gitombo multi-purpose community center or for our trip to the village in August. All donations are tax -deductible through True Impact.
Miss Glea and I leave for Kenya on August 19th. Debbie (Los Angeles) and Connie (Indianapolis) will meet us in Gitombo. Please pray for all of our safety, health and a great visit to the village!
Below please find pictures from the event sent to me by Susie Stewart. If you took pictures at the event please feel free to send them to me. Please keep in touch!
Here are some photos of the water that you all helped bring to the village of Gitombo.
Water in Gitombo!
As I write I am full of excitement. Water is now a reality in Gitombo! God is faithful. Thank you so much for all of your great support and encouragement towards the water project. The trenches have been dug by hand. A Second line of pipes is almost done. The buying of meters in progress too. Pray for these final touches. The True Impact Ministries team, comprising 19 people, visited Gitombo on June 25 on their way from Uganda. What an experience for Gitombo and the visitors! We will share their story and pictures at our event next Saturday, July 20. You can see the details below. Thank you for praying for them. They had a wonderful trip! There has been so much excitement in Gitombo. The drilling company is so pleased with their work too. Please join in in the excitement. You made it happen. Every dollar, prayer,encouragement, idea, etc. made the difference.
Here is some information on our upcoming the event to update everyone on the water project and the new project we are taking on to build a multi-purpose community center.
Date: Saturday, July 20th
Time: 5:00 PM
The home of Doug and Sue Adams
2588 S. Dahlia Street
Denver, CO 80222
Directions: Take I-25 to Yale. Go west on Yale and then north on Dahlia, House is on the east side of the street, a grey brick with green trim and an American flag in the front year.
Tickets: $20 at the door. Additional donations will be accepted. Make checks out to True Impact Ministries.
This will be an international dinner event with different nationalities attending with an array of ethnic foods – Kenyan, Ghanaian, American, Japanese, Chinese, Ethiopian (waiting confirmation), Mexican, Dutch, Latvian, Sudan etc. If you want to make an ethnic dish you are most welcome but wear the costume from where the food is coming from!
You will hear much more about PAAV and Gitombo at the event. Please email me back to help plan on your being there.
We Are Almost There!!
Thank you for your continued help. we are almost there. in a few days water should be flowing in Gitombo village. See the two attached documents. Initially we needed $6200.00 but I have some $ pledges on the way coming. So we are only short by $4500.00 and then we can make a resounding: “Done! Done!”
There is a new spirit and excitement in Gitombo as they anticipate water as a community they’ve been digging trenches. My sister Ruth has caught the vision and has been very passionate about an empowered transformed Gitombo. For the last two months she has been facilitating groups made up of women, children, and the youth- yes, the youth. They have formed drama teams, basket ball and have become very competitive. Ruth an accomplished insurance marketing manager in Nairobi has invested herself in this new found venture and has been making this population to bring out their best by offering them incentives and rewards for studying hard in school. As my mother put it Gitombo is moto moto (on fire).
Please lets join in this excitement and bring the water project to an end. See if there is any way you can help as the Lord provides. Thank you once again for your great support in prayers and finances. Please open the two attachment.
I wanted to say “asante sana” meaning “thank you so much” for your great support towards the Gitombo Water Project! Gitombo people and I thank you and pray for each and everyone of you for your most needed donations towards this worth project. Within a period of little over two years we can say this far the Lord has brought us. Praise be to His Holy Name! The Lord has continued to provide through you all and for sure validate the PAAV vision: to adopt-empower- transform Gitombo! Water had to be first.
As per attachment you can see that we are almost there! Very close! I am so excited and humbled at the same time. Soon the name will change to “Pamoja” meaning “Together” Adopt A Village (PAAV) as that is what you have done!
I plan on visiting Gitombo on August 19-September 9. My son’s wedding will take place on August 30th. On September 7 we will have an all village Water Celebration Event! I covet your prayers and support.
Glea (Denver) and Debbie (California) are coming with me. I am so touched by that. They will spend time visiting and building relationship with the people in Gitombo. More than that they are preparing themselves to impart skills to groups of women, skills that include: jewelry-making, sewing, art work etc. We will also take with us some development toys, school supplies, shoes etc. Feel free to email back if you would like to participate in this. A special inspiring story: Dorothy, a resident at the retirement community where I minister, came up with a desire to add ice-cream to the celebration! She is mobilizing her friends and family to take care of that. Now that is something! Ice cream in Gitombo!
On June 25th, Andy and his True Impact team of 20 people will visit Gitombo on their way from Uganda where they will be doing construction to benefit the children they take care of! God bless True Impact! Following his first visit in October 2010, upon which he came back and felt confident that he could partner with PAAV, this time round Andy will be taking his team. They will distribute goods in Gitombo that day! I thank God that we are builiding these worthy relationships! Through True Impact two girls from Gitombo are being sponsored and are attending Boarding Schools in Kenya. Future leaders in the making!
Once again asante sana and God bless you all!
Reverend Wanjiru Mukunga
Wanji’s Trip to Gitombo – Dec 2012 to Jan 2013
Jambo! Happy New Year!
I am back from Kenya! Thank you so much for your prayers and emails that have given me so much support throughout my trip and time in Kenya.
As you may remember, I left in a rush following the untimely death of my niece Gloria. The Lord was with us and gave us so much grace and strength as we continue to reflect on the thought of what a gift Gloria was to our family for 17 years, and her precious memories will live on in our hearts forever.
Soon after, we as a family got busy making plans for my son’s dowry event which took place in Nakuru, second largest city in Kenya, Nairobi, being the capital. My son is engaged to a Emily, a beautiful and lovely lady. The dowry negotiations between our family and her family went very well. We, who were total strangers before have now become family! The event was a colorful and joyful occasion, filled with singing, dancing and eating together, an experience which I can say God used to lessen the intensity of grief we were experiencing. Emily and my son are now free to set a date for their wedding! If you would like to know more about the dowry negotiations or the event, please check with me. After the dowry event my focus turned to PAAV-Gitombo.
The well is already drilled (250 meters) and all the casting finished. There is plenty of good water. Praise be to God for that! My desire as most of you know was to have had the water pumped and available in Gitombo as a Christmas gift to the residents. That did not happen! I confess that I was very discouraged, disappointed, and dreaded the idea of going to Gitombo and facing the people. I felt like I had failed. That anxiety doubled when I visited Gitombo village and witnessed the water situation especially after the rain season. Most people do not have storage tanks to store the rain water. More than that, water is stored in open tanks subject to contamination.
My first weeks in December were quite busy with the above family events. I finally met with the people of Gitombo on December 27th and thanks be to God at that meeting frustration, discouragement, and disappointment, soon changed. I had initially met with Mr Kamau, the elder of the village, and another committee member who both feared not having a good turn out since people had already lost two to three working days during the Christmas holidays.
The majority of the people are laborers and live on less than a dollar a day. With this in mind we did schedule the meeting for late the afternoon. When I arrived at the meeting I was amazed. Almost everyone in the village had come and seated: the elderly, young, and the children! Culturally, the elderly and especially women were seated under a tent, men on the side, teenagers and young people at the back and on the sides, and children were seated on one side in front. The meeting began with prayers, singing and a devotional. I noted the large number of children ages 1-10, and so much appreciated their dancing and singing!
I was the “guest” of honor and seated at the “high table” with the Gitombo committee members.
Different speakers from the village spoke. In their speeches, they talked about Gitombo, the history, people and the problems facing the village, water being the main concern. Speaker after speaker spoke so highly of the efforts I have made to help the people of Gitombo. Until that moment, I guess I had not really taken time to look back and reflected on the enormity of the project, what PAAV has already accomplished, and what that meant for the people of Gitombo. I was so focused and fixated on the perceived failure to bring water as a Christmas gift! The people of Gitombo wanted me to know how appreciative and happy they are with the efforts; how touched they feel that I remembered them and decided to make a difference in the village where I grew up. They narrated stories of the memorable drilling event as they witnessed the heavy drilling equipment in the village, a proof that change was coming to Gitombo! As I listened to the people my heart was touched and all my discouragements and frustrations began to ebb away. Gitombo people expressed confidence that soon they will get water. They assured me of their prayers and support.
When my turn to speak came, I shared with them the nature of my vision that to begin with it is indeed a God- given mission, and secondly that I was also building on the efforts my late father, a man they remember and spoke highly of, had made to develop the village. I also took time to explain to them how I have been raising support, and about the PAAV donors. Whereas most may have had the idea of rich Americans supporting the project, I talked about the selfless and sacrificial donations from you my African friends and your heart and desire to help empower the people of Gitombo. I let them know that you are praying for them and committed to see Gitombo get water to empower them and alleviate the poverty in the village! I shared about PAAV partnership with True Impact Ministries. Recalling Andy Stewart’s visit to Gitombo in October 2011, the people expressed their joy at seeing an American in Gitombo! They look forward to Andy and True Impact’s visit in June 2013 per Andy’s message to them! I also let them know about Susie, Andy’s wife and the Executive Director of True Impact. She has been battling cancer. Gitombo people promised to be praying for Susie, Andy, and the whole family. Please continue to pray for Susie and the Stewarts.
I encouraged Gitombo to work as a united force, to develop ownership for the village; and to maintain a sense of community because “together we are stronger.” I pointed to the great resources within them which, if tapped and put together, would do wonders in the village. After I spoke, the meeting was then open for anyone, old or young, to share or ask questions. It was wonderful to listen to different people speak candidly about the community and hear their questions. The elders, in their wisdom, challenged, cautioned, and encouraged the young people not to destroy the dignity of Gitombo but to be committed to take the baton, get involved and selflessly develop Gitombo. In response to that, I am thinking about the crucial need for training the emerging leadership of Gitombo- food for thought!
In short, the meeting looked at where Gitombo is presently and the potential possibilities for Gitombo’s future. With the provision of water, it was felt that people will be in a better position to generate income. Upon the completion of the water project, the village embraced the idea of putting up a multi-purpose community hall which, when completed, would function as a center for information and education for the village.
The December 27th meeting marked a new chapter for Gitombo with a sense of community and ownership. Having the drilling completed in Gitombo was a relatively great milestone! The people requested me to pass their heartfelt appreciation of every one of you who has given support to PAAV-Gitombo. They are excited to know that you care and think of them as your friends. They welcome your visit to Gitombo in the future. They are also very appreciative of the child-sponsorship through True Impact Ministries. Two orphaned girls from Gitombo stand an opportunity to have their school fees paid and lives changed!
All in all, it was a good meeting and I am hopeful of a new Gitombo! At the end of the meeting the people enjoyed a small “feast” of half loaf of bread (sold that way!), soda and juice. The people were so appreciative of that!
When I came back to Denver, I gave part of this report to Dorothy, a resident at the community where I minister. Dorothy has owned this project ever since she learned of a people without water in this 21st Century! In spite of her poor health she has been making calls to her friends and family, and ESA an organization she belongs to, to encourage others to support PAAV-Gitombo. Speaking from her bed, after I had gave her my trip report, in a feeble voice she said “Wanji, thank you for giving me an opportunity to give. This means a lot to me.” As the Gitombo people had touched me so did Dorothy. When I shared with a colleague Ron about my feelings towards the unmet expectations of not getting water as a Christmas gift for Gitombo, he said to me: “Sounds like you were looking at the glass half empty instead of half full.”! Wow! How true! PAAV has accomplished a lot! Presently, I feel the glass is half full! I feel greatly encouraged to carry on with the fundraising and raise the much needed $13,000.00 to buy the water pump.
While I have been away Miss Glea and her husband have continued with the jewelry sale for PAAV-Gitombo. Miss Glea makes sure that anyone who comes in her path gets to know about PAAV-Gitombo and the water need. Be on the lookout for an article from her on the PAAV website soon. Please feel free to tell others as well and share your thoughts on the website and give Cyndi, our committed member some articles to put on the website!
I believe we will soon have the finances needed to buy the pump and finally bring water to Gitombo. On their part, the Gitombo people promised to try the best they can to do their part.
Thanks to all of you for your monthly and one-time contributions, prayers, thoughts, ideas and much, much more. Please do not give up. Tell your friends and, as Dorothy puts it, “Let us give everyone an opportunity to give and make a difference.” And my prayer for you is that, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you!”
Reverend Wanjiru (Wanji) Mukunga
November/December 2012 Update
I have just received the news that water has arrived in the village of Gitombo! I could not help but shout “Ebenezer!” for that is how far the Lord has brought us through in faith. God is faithful!
During this time of Thanksgiving I want you to know how grateful I am to you for all of your great support in all ways: encouragement, prayers, organizing and participating in events, and your $ 10s, 20s, 50s, 100s, 200s, 300s, 500s, 1000s, 2,000s, 3,000s, 5,000s. You know yourselves and how God has used your sacrifice and giving to have allowed PAAV to come this far! Every dollar has counted! Thank you, thank you! God bless everyone of you abundantly.
I leave for Kenya on December 3 and look forward to being in Gitombo with family and neighbors and to witness “water,” by God’s grace. I covet your prayers for my trip, both the preparations and being at home! The people of Gitombo are planning on a fundraising event to raise money for Phase Three.
On our part, we still have Phase Three of which we are on a countdown. We still have, give or take $12,000 to go and we will be done! I am trusting God to be able to raise that amount before I leave as per his will. Please pray with me. Feel free to share with others and trust God with me.
Thank you, thank you!
This is a short video of True Impact’s visit to the village of Gitombo.