Sunday, January 30, 2011

Maisha Kamili

Remember my post about my biggest challenge for 2011? Well, we've been working on it a lot.

We've written mission/vision/values/strategies, a tentative plan and timeline, and our intentions for the future of the ministry. We didn't know what to call it, though.

We got to meet with a couple who are doing a similar thing, also in Kenya, but another part of the country. They rent houses and put 8 orphans and 1 widow in each house. This gives the widow a good, steady job, and also provides a mother figure for the children. It's not the approach we're intending to take, but talking with them was helpful. They recommended we read a book called When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself. Rodgers bought it the next day. He has read it, and I am on chapter 3.
[from Amazon]
You can read the first few pages on Amazon or
What I have read so far discusses the fact that people's needs are deeper and more complex than what meets the eye. Also, white Americans tend to have an air of superiority (or maybe a Superman complex) when dealing with those in poverty, though we are messed up people, too. They discuss different kinds of poverty besides not having money. We are all in some kind of poverty. It is important when helping people to 1) consider the fact that you are also in poverty, even though you may own a home and 2 cars and 2) minister to the person's full life, not just the part that you think is causing their poverty. For example, a single mother may not be able to hold a job, not because she's a poor employee, but because she has trouble getting childcare and lacks confidence in herself. Helping her get training or finding someone to hire her won't solve either of those.

Street kids will remain in poverty for many reasons. If we are to truly help them, we must consider their full life. This is what we've been discussing all along, but reading it in this book made me realize that the name of our ministry is Maisha Kamili, which is Full Life in Swahili. (The A's are like the A in father, I's like the I in ski: ma-I-sha ka-MI-li.)

Maisha Kamili will have its own blog one day, but not yet.


  1. Wow! I love reading your plans. Love the name of your ministry and the meaning behind it. I can't wait to read more about your vision and the approach!

  2. Beautiful post! I'm always concerned about some well-intentioned Westerners "swooping in" to "save" others in third word countries, and not having a full understanding of the issues on the ground. It sounds like you are really doing your homework. :)