Somewhere in the Kitui County region of Kenya, there lives a woman named Josephine.
Josephine is a farmer and a mum of six children. Her husband, when he’s lucky enough to find work, is employed as a casual labourer in a city far away from home. Try as they might to support their large family, there was just never enough money to make ends meet. But then our Christian partner, Anglican Development Services Eastern, began working in Josephine’s community… and everything changed.
With your support, in just four short years, Josephine has completely transformed life for her family. And when we met each other earlier this year, she told me the amazing story of that transformation.
Our Christian partner gave Josephine farming training and taught her to plant her crops on terraces to conserve soil and increase irrigation. This simple technique helped her to multiply her crop yield 18 times! She received basic education on animal production and livestock health. Because of it, she was able to save the life of her sister’s birthing goat… and its kid! When word spread around the village of Josephine’s skill in animal care, people began to ask for her advice. Now, for a little money, she treats all the neighbourhood cattle and they are growing healthier and producing more milk under her watch.
With a loan from her savings group, Josephine invested in a shop. It was hard work in the beginning, but now sales from her little store are bringing in more money than she could ever have hoped for five years ago. And thanks to her increased income she has been able to grow the number of her own livestock and start constructing a new house for her family.
But the biggest challenge in Josephine’s life has always been caring for the two of her children who suffer from a mental disability. Because she and her husband couldn’t afford to send them to a school that was properly equipped to care for them, Josephine often had to leave them at home alone while she worked in the fields. And as they are unable to talk and unable to defend themselves, Josephine was always worried for their safety. Now, a loan from her savings group means that she can afford to pay school fees straight away, and work to pay the loan back during the year. During school term, her two children board at a school where Josephine knows they will be safe. And they are both learning trade skills that will allow them to get jobs of their own one day!
As I listened to her story, I was so encouraged by the difference that your support is helping to make for Josephine and her family. But it’s what happened next that touched me most.
Josephine invited me to eat.
In the region of Kenya we were in, it’s customary for people to invite their visitors to share food with them. So the delicious spread of mangoes, maize, and bottled water from her shop didn’t take me by surprise at all… but when Josephine said grace it brought me undone.
What Josephine prayed that day was a prayer of genuine thanks. And, as I listened, I understood that she meant it with all her heart. In that instant, Josephine’s experience of poverty became a brutal reality in my mind. Therehad been times in this woman’s life when food had been scarce. She’d lived through disaster and through famine… she’d probably even faced the heartbreak of having to send her children to bed with empty stomachs.
Josephine, who has so very little herself, chose to share the best of that little with me…
And yet, instead of storing her food away for the next hungry season, Josephine, who has so very little herself, chose to share the best of that little with me… someone she’d just met.
What extravagant generosity!
At Baptist World Aid we talk a lot about the wonderful generosity of our supporters. I am so grateful for it because I have seen the incredible transformation it makes possible. But on that trip to Kenya, what humbled me beyond belief was the extravagant generosity of the people who we support. People who joyfully share what God provides with one another, faithful in their belief that He will continue to meet their daily needs.
I will always be thankful for the lesson on generosity that Josephine taught me that day. And from here on in, I will count it an honour and a blessing when I am given the opportunity to be extravagant in my own generosity towards others.
Your extravagant generosity can help mums like Josephine transform life for their families.
This story is featured in Issue 17 of Be Love Magazine