The Great Day Easter is upon us. In many languages around the world Easter is more aptly called The Great Day and Resurrection Sunday. As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection we reflect on His great sacrifice for us and his painful journey to the cross … Continue reading
A few words from Ali, our Creative Director… The women at Amani ya Juu continue to make my heart smile. My absolute favorite moments of my days here are when I get to stop and chat with a lady while … Continue reading
In January two Amani trainees, Ingrid and Eugeine, were informed that each of their 4 children would be receiving special Christmas presents this year! Because of a generous financial donation from friends of Amani in the US, 8 children were blessed with new backpacks filled with all the school supplies they would need: pens, notebooks, pencils, rulers, pencil crayons, and coloring books just for fun!
Ingrid said, “It was so nice that I didn’t have to buy anything this year when my kids started school! I’d been wondering what I was going to send them with, because I didn’t have anything, and their old bags were all ripped. What a blessing! I’m so thankful!” The children were bursting with gratitude as well; 4 year old Imelda said, “Mom, the place where you work is really nice! We’ve never had a bag as good as this before!”
Both the mothers and children were very thankful and excited, and their children began the 2016 school year with full desks and full hearts.
Amani’s Watoto camp is a special event created for the children of the Amani women. The children are invited to join with volunteers and Amani staff and enjoy three days of devotion, games, food, and fun. The Watoto camp that took place from December 8-11 and attendees included 96 children, 60 volunteers and mothers. Watoto camp is a way for Amani to share and instill the message of peace with a young generation, who will grow up to treasure and share it with others.
The event started with a devotion conducted by previous Watoto “graduates” who are currently in Amani’s Sasa youth program. These youth are mentors for the Watoto participants, and were able to share their personal spiritual experiences. Throughout the week, the children participated in ice breaker games, a Bible drama performed by the mothers, a puppet show, delicious lunches, craft projects, and a dance routine!
This busy event was closed with a dedication ceremony for the children who are moving on to the Sasa youth program. Pat Mbugua, the Kenya Country Director, encouraged the new graduates to share lessons learned during the Watoto camp, and gave each participant two special Amani necklaces; one to keep as a reminder of what they had learned, and one to share with a friend or family member. This ceremony reflected Amani’s goal of spreading peace to others, and the entire camp succeeded in igniting the spark of peace in a new generation of global citizens.
We couldn’t have done 2015 without you!
A Review of 2015
Here’s what we accomplished together…
- Partnered with 67 volunteers throughout the US
- Increased US orders from Africa centers by up to 40%
- Renovated our facility to multiply our warehouse space x2 and installed 6 new storefront windows in our retail space
- Provided employment for 10 Chattanoogans
- Finished “in the black” with a 28% increase in sales
- Shared the women’s testimonies of faith and peace with 10,000 Amani Facebook followers
- Installed office laptops for 7 departments (Reception, Clothing, Distribution, Export, Warehouse, Design, and Cafe)
- Contucted IT training for 13 staff members
- Held an annual retreat for 44 ladies, an event that included presentations of music, dance and skits and a beautiful testimony time
- Gave out 16 new Bibles to the ladies
- Provided backpacks for 8 children from ages 6-14
- Graduated 6 women from our 4-year sewing program and welcomed 8 new ladies
- Welcomed 6 new women into our training program
- Hired 2 staff members: one to oversee our ministry with the ladies, and another to jump-start a sales department
- Established 2 new developmental programs: Trauma Rehabilitation and Discipleship Class
- Purchased necessary equipment for growth, including 2 tables, 8 tools, 2 long stools, 2 heavy-duty sewing machines, and 1 filing cabinet
- Invited 136 young girls to become members of our newly reinstated Amani Girls Club, where girls are taught to respect themselves and celebrate the plan God has for their future
- Worked with a team of 5 Tennessee volunteers to repair the leaky roof, the first step on the journey to a reopened production facility
- 9 seamstresses and tailors regained hope for the future as Amani began renovations to reopen the center
“The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Amani Kenya was gifted with $128 in order to purchase 15 Swahili Bibles and 1 French Bible. The Bibles were purchased from the Biblica Guest House book shop who also donated an extra Bible for free! This kindness will be treasured by the Amani women who are now able to worship God in their own language, including Emily from Congo who’s primary language is French. Emily said, “Now I can read the Word in my mother tongue (French) when I’m in the Amani chapel! That makes me so happy!” All of the women celebrated together when they received the new Bibles, and are grateful to the generous donors who made this possible.
A story of Sarah, a young woman who works at Amani Uganda. This story was a collaborative effort between Sarah and Simprosa, the Uganda Country Director.
Nine-year-old Sarah went to the market with her older sister on June 20, 1995. On her way home, their step mum met them, warning the girls not to return home because the rebel soldiers were around. Sarah and sister went back to the market and spent the night there. At 6am the next morning, they returned home only to immediately to be caught by the soldiers. They began moving to Sudan, but arguing broke out among the soldiers. Some thought Sarah was too young, and they wanted to leave her. But others promised to carry her, so she was taken to a commander. They continued moving to Sudan. When they reached a place to rest, they cooked and fetched water. Here some even younger girls were abducted. These six girls made a plan to escape, but it failed because the other soldier kept them in the main group.
One night, Sarah and her sister tried to escape but they were caught and mistreated. Her sister’s ear was cut. Sarah was told to wipe the blood. As they continued on their way, a lady gave Sarah a gun to load. After the woman escaped, Sarah was accused of causing the escape, and threatened with death. The commander refused to kill her until they reached River Aswa.
Sarah was able to crosss the river with her heavy load, but government soldiers began shooting at them. Many were wounded by gunfire. The group continued moving and reached River Atembe, which was rushing far more quickly than River Aswa. When she tried to cross, her heavy load weighed her down, and she almost drowned. A solider rescued her, but she was full of water. They gave her mouth-to-mouth and continued moving. Then, a vehicle came took them but on their way to Sudan.
Once in Sudan, the soldiers started arguing because they each wanted her be their “wife”. But the commander refused because she still very young. One commander kept her until she was a bit older. At that point, she was separated from her sister, Alice. She tried asking about her, but no one knew where she was.
In August 1997, at 11-years-old, a sobbing Sarah was forced to become the commander’s wife. Shortly after their wedding, he left her for seven months. During this time she was forced to sever as a wife to old men. Then her husband came and took her back as a wife.
At this time, there was no rain and little water. They began drinking their own urine out of desperation. They crossed to Uganda to find food and seeds, but were caught in battle with government troops. Many other in her group died, but Sarah survived. After the battle, they were lost in the forest, enabled to find the direction of where they were, Sarah fell and injured her leg, which swelled, prevented her from moving. They were in a place called Nucito, and the injured people were left there for a year. They dug planted seeds, but there was no food. Then the government soldiers began chasing the rebels from Sudan to Uganda in 2003.
Around this time, 17-year-old Sarah realized she was pregnant. Sarah thanked God she didn’t yet have a child because the journey was difficult. They moved through forest and over hills, with little food, they picked maize from people’s gardens as they went. When they reached the border, the government troops and rebels fought. Many people died in the battle, because the government had the use of helicopters.
During this battle, a very-pregnant Sarah began to feel the first pains of labor. She couldn’t move, so she stopped under a mango tree, surrendering to death. But soon, one of her co-wives arrived at her side. Sarah gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Immediately after giving birth; they began moving again. They did not stop to bathe until they reached River Agago. After crossing they stopped to rest, but were met by the government soldiers. They ran, each rebel trying to save his or her own life. The fighting lasted for eight hours, and only thirty rebel soldiers remained. Most were wounded, only ten healthy soldiers remained. Sarah’s husband had been killed in battle, but no one told her until she was given to another commander later. This commander cruelly mistreated her, and she began planning her escape.
After one failure to espace (for which she was severely beaten), Sarah was not able to try again until August 2004. Then, she and two other escaped, running all night. They crossed a river and came upon a center called Lacetocot. Civilians within the village took them to the barracks. Sarah’s brother came, bringing the news that their father had been murdered by the rebels. After this, Sarah’s was taken to a World Vision camp for three months.
She then went home to her mother and remaining relatives. Later, she was taken to tailoring school. After graduating from tailoring school she struggled to find work and was unable to support herself and her child.
A friend told her about Simprosa and the Amani sewing center. Sarah became a member of Amani family in October 2013!
Amani Uganda has been an empowering experience for Grace. Since coming to Amani, she has attended attended group trauma therapy and participates in daily devotionals. Her life is changing gradually which makes her forget about the past.
She is a leader at the Amani center and mentors some of the other women. She loves sharing the Word of God and encouraging the other ladies to work hard.
Amani has taught Sarah how to share devotions with others. he She frequently shared the Word of God with others. Before, Amani, she had no marketable skills, but now she is a self-suffient woman and accomplished tailor. Amani allows Sarah to be independent so she does not have to worry about basic needs. This allows her to provide her family with a good live.
The Amani Center has healed the wounds which was in her heart through sharing the Word of God and through the trauma rehabilitation. Through this job, she can afford to send her oldest son (who was born when she was in captivity) to school. Before working at Amani, she had no one to help her, not even her family.
Sarah and her current husband have three children together. Sarah’s husband is a business man in Gulu and helps to support his family as much as possible. However, her husband will not support her oldest son, who came back from the war with Sarah, because it is not his. But because of Amani, Sarah is able to pay for her oldest son’s education herself.
*Some names have been changed for privacy.
A Christmas greeting from our Founder/Executive Director, Becky Chinchen…
Merry Christmas from Amani ya Juu,
Refugees, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, floods, droughts, war, poverty… this beautiful world of ours is a hurting place. Whether we are serving in the midst of these painful circumstances or are contemplating our involvement from the far away comforts of our homes, the needs can seem and feel overwhelming. Where does one even start?
At Amani ya Juu, these questions and feelings are an old friend. As we start each new day trusting in the One who provides Peace from Above, we tackle the overwhelming multitude of needs by pouring our love, care and help into each woman that walks through our Amani doors.
One of those women in need, our newest Amani member, is Esther from Kenya. She is 28 years old and has degree in basic accounting and computer application. In the past Esther moved around to different towns following various employment opportunities, finally ending up in Nairobi in 2009. She got married and in 2012 gave birth to a baby boy named Harnest. Esther’s marriage was troubled from the beginning and the situation only escalated once her son, Harnest, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He is in need of medical care and attends a special school. Esther’s husband started to abuse her and spend all his money on his lady friends. It was at this point that Esther came calling at Amani ya Juu looking for help in desperation.
At the beginning of September, Esther joined Amani Ya Juu as a trainee based on her need. After one week at Amani, Esther’s husband threw her and their child out of the home so that he could live with another woman. Esther is now renting an iron sheet house with no water or power and with outdoor communal toilets. Her friend gave her a mattress that she throws on the floor, serving as a seat during the day and bed at night. She was also given a faulty cooking stove, a few utensils and a paraffin lamp for lighting. She is forced to buy water and food on credit. Three year old Harnest still needs diapers due to his special needs.
Esther came to Amani with no stitching skills and is now being trained on how to sew. Esther also came lacking in a faith that will help carry her through this traumatic time. She has come to the right place. We are praying she will find Christ’s healing power and peace.
At Amani ya Juu, we are aware that we cannot heal all the pain in the world and that life does not come in a neat package. However, we can help Esther and others like her find healing and hope through Christ. We invite you this Christmas season to consider giving a gift to Amani ya Juu and being a part of extending peace to those who have lost all hope. We thank you in advance for your gift.
Wishing God’s peace, joy, hope and love over you and your families,
To give to our programs, please visit our donations page online at amaniafrica.org/donations
OUR AMANI MEN ARE ON THEIR WAY HOME!
Sunday Dec 13 – Day of Departure
The team wakes up, bags packed ready to go to Robertsfield Airport, Monrovia.
Transport is to arrive at the guesthouse to collect the team.
No transport in sight, anxiety levels begin to rise.
Still no transport, nerves are building.
The car arrives. The driver is a stranger. Their driver friend sent his protégé.
The car speeds off into the dark with the team and luggage for a one-hour trip to the airport — pitch black roads with no life or light in sight.
The car with the team arrives at the airport but they are too late. They are refused entry. The rules for international flights – passengers are to be at the airport 2 hours before departure.
Veteran missionary Pete Vaughn talks to the authorities but to no avail.
The next Air Moroc flight is Tuesday – in two days.
ALWAYS EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED IN AFRICA…
You can’t go to Africa and expect everything to go smoothly…something has to go wrong.
Mon Dec 13
Team is issued new tickets.
Team arrives at the airport 8 hours early to camp out determined not to miss the flight again.
Tues Dec 14
Team departs on Air Moroc with big sighs of relief.
On behalf of the entire Amani family we want to thank the Chattanooga roofing team for going and doing what we couldn’t do. Your faith and perseverance and the sacrifices you and your families have made speaks volumes to all of us.
Your going has assured a future for Amani Liberia.
Though it looked like a far away dream to us God is always out in front, ahead of us, with a plan doing what seems to be the impossible because He is the future.
This small start for Amani is the catalyst for so much more!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Merry Christmas everyone!!
Lillian is one of our most valued employees in Uganda and she is a survivor.
Like many of us, her life has been full of trials and tribulations. By the age of 35, Amono Lillian had endured an abduction, 8 years of captivity, and is now the single parent of 3 children. In order to provide for her family, she cleans homes, tends gardens, and does laundry in the morning, all before coming to Amani in the afternoon.
However, she is joyfully celebrating this Christmas season after receiving a gift of two goats from generous donors to Amani. She has begun the process of starting a small goat farming business by breeding her two goats, which she believes can grow to fund her children’s school fees, medication, food, clothes, and eventually buy a small plot of land where she can build her own home. For her, these goats are a symbol of hope, and she is thankful for the generosity from donors that helps to make her future bright.