Cannon King Walking With Africans July 2014

July 14th- Machinery Hakwers

- Tuesday, July 15, 2014

As we pulled up to the various painted store fronts, we were greeted by a dozen smiling faces, who took our hand and led us through a labyrinth of alley ways until we finally reached the groups weekly meeting place. It was a covered courtyard in between a dozen or so small apartments with plastic tables and chairs set up in a circle, and three chairs separated from the rest for the guests of honor. For the first time ever (according to Lioness), the Secretary opened up with a page long speech, in English, telling us the story of their group. Started in 2003 as a group of struggling merchants who owned small wooden stands on the side of the road, they had blossomed into the business powerhouses of the area, and were VERY proud to report that they were sending many of their children to prominent universities in Nairobi (rare in this area).

One women told the story of her failing vegetable stand, which, after investments in capital by EPID-Kenya (our partners) she turned around into an enormous (by Kenyan standards) restaurant that not only improved her quality of life, but also employed 5 full time staff. In an area with such rampant unemployment, these jobs could be responsible for feeding and clothing 5 or 6 separate families. There was also a woman who opened a successful dress shop, and another who went from selling one bag of maize at a time to having an entire store room filled to the ceiling with bags of cereals. 

At the end of the meeting, they informed me that they had a gift for me to receive on behalf of the  "Carolina's" (where I said I was from) from the Kenyan people. They unwrapped some newspaper to reveal an intricately carved and painted giraffe, which I knew from prior shopping experience was not cheap or easy to make. The Chairwoman told me that they picked a giraffe because even over long distances it is able to see, and she hoped that even when I'm back in American I can continue to see them succeed. 

What  I think is so incredible about the work we are doing is that we're not just giving handouts. We're helping the Kenyans to help themselves. I'll go over the process of receiving loans in the next post, but it's not easy, and requires a large investment in time and money from the group members. We're not just giving money, we're helping them to understand how business works and how to best help their local communities. 

Thanks for reading and keep the comments coming!

Cannon King

Morgan king commented on 15-Jul-2014 12:25 PM
Good job Cannon!!
Chimmy commented on 15-Jul-2014 12:41 PM
Thanks for your informative updates Cannon!
Brad King commented on 15-Jul-2014 02:25 PM
You will have to share your pics when you get back!
Jeff King commented on 15-Jul-2014 03:26 PM
As it is ethically borderline to accept a gift from a banking client, I would be willing to receive the carved giraffe as an official representative of "Carolina". Just to keep everything on the "up and up" :)
Julie King commented on 19-Jul-2014 03:13 PM
To come home with a new understanding of the blessings we have and to assist others to reach goals and gain independence, emotionally and financially.....very cool!
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