Sunday, February 10, 2008

Friends of Mercy - Our Work Goes On - Lutheran Deaconesses in Kenya and HIV Communities

Rightfully so, the recent focus in Kenya was the political unrest after the presidential elections. However, the work of mercy goes on. Friends of Mercy didn't stop raising awareness on the various projects in Kenya or Lutheran Cancer & Hospice Society.

Lutherans are Making a Difference - Lutheran HIV Communities in Kenya the Result of Hard Working ELCK and her Deaconesses

(Deaconess Eunita speaking to the community) Lutheran deaconesses are making a huge difference for those suffering from AIDS and children that are infected with HIV. The ELCK is on the front edge of helping the battle against HIV\AIDS.

Pastors are rarely paid in Kenya - Evangelists are next to get paid - deaconess are third in line. The church workers in Kenya are there because of their love of the Lord, love of neighbor, and a zeal to make a difference with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The deaconesses are instrumental to the Lutheran HIV Communities that exist in Kenya. One of their slogans is "Living Positively." What they mean by that is the members of the community are HIV positive - all of them. Great grandparents, grandparents, parents, orphans, children, babies - are all infected with HIV and are working to stop its spread.

However, the power of the Gospel provides the hope and strength to live a positive life. The ELCK works hard to present an open, forgiving, and compassionate context for the people of Kenya to deal with HIV\AIDS. When you meet with the people of the Lutheran HIV Community you can hear, feel, and see how postive they are.
These communities, in a way, encompass everything we are trying to do at Friends of Mercy. They deal with AIDS Orphans, AIDS widows, education, micro-economies, and issues associated with the terminally ill.
"Teach them to Fish Rather than Give ..."

The old phrase, "teach them to fish instead of give them a fish" is literally applied among the ELCK's Lutheran HIV Communities. Above is a picture of the ladies of the community digging another pond to raise tilapia.

At the left is one of the several "tilapia farms," which the HIV community built and now raises fish to feed the community and sell in the market. It is part of a productive philosophy of a setting up micro-economies to sustain themselves and their communities.

In addition to fish, they raise chickens and vegetables. They are so very proud of their work and their positive approach to life in the face of HIV and poverty. No longer are they outcasts and shunned, especially by the church. They are baptized saints, holy and pure by faith in Christ.

Then next couple of posts will show you the work of over 60 deaconesses in Kenya. During our trip, we met a few deaconesses personally, however, please understand, their work is multiplied throughout the country.