Frontline Stories

How a trained faith leader changed a community

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“Pastors are now resource persons, teaching and advocating for children in the community and not just opening and closing meetings in prayers.”

“I decided to be an offering to God by staying in my community to serve as a pastor, unlike most people here who when they get educated, move away to towns and abandon their community.”

Joshua has been a pastor since 2000 in Kasei. He has a Diploma in Theology and also in Business Management. Joshua is a Channels of Hope Child Protection (COH-CP) trainer.

Before, child marriage was a huge problem, cases of abduction of girls for marriage was rampant even to the extent of not asking parental consent in some cases.

“Those days, girls were seen as family wealth; if you have many daughters, then you are rich (with expected dowry),” says Pastor Joshua. “There was once a case of a girl abducted and taken to Uganda, and she has never returned to date. She was in grade 8.” No one cared who married the girl as long as they give dowry, the more the cows, the better and no one cared about the character of the man, whether acceptable or not. Pastor Joshua adds that a pastor was once beaten up by people who suspected that he reported a girl’s abduction to the authorities.

World Vision Kenya brought messaging and exposure to the community against FGM and early marriage. Through radios, community meetings and different ways of advocacy within the community targeting different audiences, the elders, the women, children.

The World Vision programmes, including models like Community Change (C-Change), Celebrating Families and Channels of Hope, have made a difference. Through C-Change, there is great unity in the family and the community as people rediscover themselves, new mindset on their challenges and the resources within them.

“There is change now, girls are valued as boys.” Men now see the value of women and not downgraded like before. They seat together in church which was different before, as men sat in one row and women in a different section.

Women are now allowed to raise income to supplement the home needs. There is variety of food in the community such as vegetables (kales, tomatoes etc.) now grown and sold as women are exposed to savings groups and trainings on small business skills. Even girls who have had challenges of early pregnancy are rehabilitated and accepted in their homes instead of being sent away to the father of the child or being denied a chance to return to school. That pregnancy is not the end of everything.

“There is, therefore, improved cooperation at the family and community levels. School enrolment is greatly improved in the area,” Joshua said.

Children would be moved out during the church service but now they are allowed to attend and are also seen as important members of the church. “We have learnt that we need to be the voice of the children as churches and pastors,” says Pastor Joshua.

Pastor Joshua also worked through the pastors’ network in the area to promote the wellbeing of children and the community. World Vision trained the pastors’ network on spiritual nurture of children, child protection and other important topics affecting the community. The pastors’ network even rescued a girl and put her back to school as they exercised their advocacy role in the community.

Bishop Harun Maswai, COH CP lead (mentor to Joshua on COH) commented, “I have seen pastors make better use of their time and get involved in community issues. They realise they and the church have a role to play in being a voice for the vulnerable, the voiceless in society.

“One pastor gave a testimony how in his church and community, after his engagement, over 35 children transitioned to high school in the area, where none used to move forward to high school in the past. It was historic in the area, because of COH engagement.”

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