MOMBASA, Kenya, 22 June, 2011 -Lives for a group of 24 young people in Mombasa have been transformed thanks to peace funds donated by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to local church Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC). KELC hosted an ecumenical youth peace gathering in 2009 in response to Post-election violence witnessed in Kenya in 2007/ 2008 that claimed 1,300 lives and left 350,000 displaced from their homes.

The group started in Bamburi in 2008 under the Organization of Africa Instituted Churches (OAIC). Bamburi Giving Hope received KES 70,000 (above USD 900) funds under the peace summit phase II for chicken rearing project. “We started with 200 day-old-chicks in March 2011 after constructing a chicken roost” narrated Wendy treasurer of the group.

The third lot of chicks reared by Bamburi Giving Hope group supported by the Peace Summit project funds

Due to lack of experience in poultry farming the group lost 9 chicks a situation that led to panic and fear for more loses and forced them to contact a livestock officer for advice. They were equipped with basic techniques in poultry farming that saw the survival of the remaining 191 chicks. This marked the beginning or self-reliance and since then the group has reared and sold chicks three times and made huge profits. “We make KES 10,000 profit after expenses each rearing phase” said Wendy.

Broilers chicks mature after 3 weeks and forms a ready market for hotels, restaurants and for many Kenyan who prefer fast food combination of chicken and French fries.

Enabled Orphans- forget their status

The group consists of orphans and child-led families and is the broader Giving Hope programs whose aim is to support and give hope to the orphans. Kenya has more than 1.2 million children orphaned by HIV and AIDS, gender-based violence, poverty among other factors. Child-led families are mainly faced with challenges such as early pregnancies as was the case for one of the Bamburi giving hope member.

“One of our members delivered a baby and unfortunately died…the group catered for all burial expenses” lamented Wendy. She said the project has enabled then “forget we are orphans” for most members hardly stay without food.

Previously the group members used to seat on the floor while conducting meetings. That has since changed, they bought seats and intend to use and hire-out whenever there are functions. “We have managed to buy school bags for the school going children” added Wendy.

The peace funds disbursed to Giving Hope has caused a snow-ball effect with group’s activities winning trust from other stakeholders. USAID Total War against AIDS (TOWA) program acknowledged the group’s positive growth and it is for that reason that the group is implementing a program for sensitizing Mombasa communities and schools on HIV and AIDS. Group members are encouraged to save (to a pool) allowances they get from TOWA project with intention of later receiving loans once.

Bold move, beckoning hope

Chicken rearing decision was tough for a group with little or no experience but after making the bold step Bamburi Giving Hope group has become wiser from past mistakes and is dreaming big. The group intends to expand the poultry farming to include traditional chicken, turkey.

“We want to secure a land of our own, keep not only poultry but also rabbits” expressed the treasurer. “[But] our biggest fear is threats from Mombasa republican. [They] want us out of Mombasa…that may destabilize the group for many of us are non-coastal”- lamented Wendy.

Mombasa Republican is an illegal vigilante group calling up on non- coastal residence to quit. They base their ideology on the 18 century agreement between the Sultan of Zanzibar and the British on the coastal strip to be annexed from the rest of Kenya. Other youth group funded from the coast is active youth implementing balcony vegetable farming hoping to reverse the food insecurity in urban areas.

(The Ecumenical Peace Summit was held in April 2009 in Nairobi following  post-election violence in Kenya in 2007/2008 that claimed 1,300 lives displaced 350,000. The Summit attracted more than 500 youths from (then) violence hot-spots of Eldoret, Mombasa, Malindi, Limuru, Nakuru, Kisumu and informal settlements of Kibera and Mathare in Nairobi. Youths were trained on entrepreneurship skills, project development, HIV and AIDS and were later sent out as peace ambassadors. The initiative set aside funds to support youths led projects  under the theme: “Embrace peace, fulfill the Dreams”)