Partner Stories

Grace and Gabriel Abanga - Nyamasore, Kenya

Almost 20 years ago, Bright Hope World began partnering with a wonderful group of people working in the Mathare Valley in Nairobi. Mathare Valley is no easy place to do ministry. In an area a little less then eight square kilometres, 600,000 people live in unbelievably poor conditions. People live in tiny shacks with no running water and often no beds. Crime is rife, as is HIV/AIDS.

Among the leadership team in Mathare Valley was a young couple, Gabriel and Grace Abanga. Gabriel was a lecturer at University and a part time pastor, Grace was a full-time mum. After working in this challenging community for many years, Gabriel and Grace began to contemplate retirement, which in Kenya means building a house in the village of the husband’s family, 430km away in Nyamasore on the shores of Lake Victoria.

So, for the last few years, Gabriel and Grace have been slowly building a house in the village. Once the house was good enough to live in, Grace began spending several months each year in the village.

As Grace began to become a part of the community, she realised that there were many issues that were generating poverty. Grace had had a long involvement in women’s empowerment and was a leader in a child development programme.

As she looked at this new community she noticed an issue with the local farming practices. Many of the poor farmers in the area were growing vegetables, but they suffered from inconsistent crops, poor marketing, fierce competition from each other and traders driving the price down.

Grace responded by helping the locals form co-operative groups of growers who help each other and who have access to loans. Grace asked Bright Hope World to invest in funds for loans and to set-up irrigation and greenhouses to improve the crops.

Bright Hope World was very happy to partner with Grace, and the work on the ground began to make a huge difference in the community. The crops are better as a result of the irrigation from Lake Victoria. Women have formed a group and are now able to grow crops as successfully as the men.

Children are going to school, and the people are eating better and improving their ramshackle houses. Other small businesses are starting to emerge as entrepreneurship is stimulated. They are starting to dream about processing their product rather than just supplying the fresh market, and they are now gathering to discuss spiritual issues and pray for each other.

One group of elderly women have started a project selling water which supports them in their old age. There are a number of these women in the village who are largely abandoned by their families, as the families don’t want to live in such a rural place.

The community is beginning to stand on its own and thrive, and Bright Hope World no longer needs to invest funding into this work. Grace is full of energy as she disciples this community. They call her pastor as she cares for them physically and spiritually. She is an extraordinary woman.

To read more about Grace and Gabriel Abanga, click here and here.

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