Kenyan family gets new house and moreLast fall, two women who are members of Temple Baptist Church returned from a mission trip to Africa fired up to help a Kenyan woman and her children. They organized a different kind of fundraiser called Purses with a Purpose and it succeeded beyond their expectations.
Last fall, two women who are members of Temple Baptist Church returned from a mission trip to Africa fired up to help a Kenyan woman and her children. They organized a different kind of fundraiser called Purses with a Purpose and it succeeded beyond their expectations.
On their Christian Mission Aid trip a year ago, Doris Giedt and Mary Rachel had visited with Ada, a widow with three children and an orphaned baby niece. Ada lived in a settlement of women who were all made widows due to AIDS. They are all HIV-positive or infected with the disease themselves.
At the time, Ada’s hut was made of mud and manure with a hole-filled thatched roof and a dirt floor. When it rained the family slept in mud. There was no furniture and few household goods.
“Our original intent was to put a roof on her home,” Giedt said. “It would have cost $800. But we discovered her walls wouldn’t support a metal roof.”
Reinforcing the walls to hold the metal roof pushed the price up to $1,055. A new house with a cement floor was $1,565.
“We took a deep breath and went ahead on faith with a new house,” Giedt said.
Rachel and Giedt hoped the Purses with a Purpose would raise all or at least most of the funds needed. It succeeded in raising more than $4,000.
“It was beyond our imagination that it was so successful,” Rachel said. “God had a much bigger project in mind than we did.”
Purses with a Purpose was a purse exchange. Participants paid a fee and brought one or more new or gently used purses to exchange. They then chose one or more purses for themselves. Early bird participants paid more, but got first chance at the purses.
“We had a good turnout with donations and purses to exchange. It was fun and the people who came had fun. It was such a high knowing what we were doing this for,” Giedt said. “And Thrivent (Financial) matched the funds.”
“There were lots and lots of purses,” Rachel added. “When we cut the ribbon for the early bird people, they ran to get the purse they wanted.”
Ironically, the two women said, Ada and the other widows don’t even know what a purse is. What they can use is plastic bags from the grocery store or “green” tote bags.
“They wash their clothes in the stream. With plastic bags they could carry the clean clothes,” Giedt said.
But that’s for their next mission trip to Africa, a trip Rachel and Giedt are already beginning to plan.
“Our prayer is that God would call us back to Africa,” Rachel said. “It was a remarkable time when we went last year. We felt so blessed when we were there.”
The $4,000 not only bought a new house with a cement floor and metal roof for Ada and her family, it provided mattresses and blankets as well as other small pieces of furniture.
“They no longer have to sleep on the floor,” Giedt said.
The funding also bought a bath house and pit toilet — an outhouse. It provided eaves or troughs to collect rain water that drains into a cistern so the family has fresh water.
“Ada can use the rain water as another source of income or provide water for the others,” Rachel said. “She also has a charcoal business now.”
And now, Ada has a small garden that feeds her family, with tools and seed provided by the purse exchange funding.
“She’d lost all hope after losing her husband,” Rachel said. “Now, God has become real to Ada.”
Giedt said the community of women, who work and struggle together, will be pleased for Ada and her family. There is no jealousy between them, she said.
“They all benefit when someone else receives,” Giedt said.
And the others won’t be forgotten. The church started two years ago with funding to buy goats for the settlement of women. Now, Purses with a Purpose has helped one of them.
“We will help the others, but we have no concrete plans right now,” Giedt said. “We’ll take a trip back there to see what is needed and how we can help.”
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at email@example.com