Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bread for the Journey

'Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
Matthew 25:40 NIV

When Mennonite Girls Can Cook came into being several years ago, it was all about preserving our family heritage recipes.  We discussed that as individuals we never wished to profit from the blog, but if the opportunity would ever arise we would love to use our blog to help feed hungry children.  Little did we know what the future had in store for us.  One year after we began the blog we partnered together with a few businesses that agreed to support the project of our choice in exchange for having their business profiled on our sidebar. The project we chose was that of providing goats to families in Kenya under the direction of MCC (Mennonite Central Committee).  It seemed like a good way of feeding hungry children in a faraway place...and at the same time giving their families a way to become self-sufficient.    I never gave the project a great deal of thought at that time...and definitely never considered the possibility of traveling to Kenya to see first hand how our donations were being used.
Last summer we began to make plans to visit friends of ours in Kenya...who happen to be the directors for MCC in that country.  Suddenly I thought about our goat project...and realized that Ron and Martha were the ones who were overseeing the very project we had been supporting.  What a great opportunity to see where our funds were going...and to see what a difference a small herd of goats can make to a family. 
We returned recently from our time in Kenya...where we were hosted by Ron and Martha Ratzlaff.  We spent time with them as they went about their regular duties.  We joined them as they distributed blankets and school kits to students in a school in the slums of Nairobi.  I had to think of the ladies from our church back home who meet faithfully every week to quilt blankets such as these for MCC...and wished they could have seen the joy with which these blankets were received! 

We spent one day touring the sand dams...a project with which MCC is involved that provides water to many who previously had no access to water during the dry seasons.  We also saw another project that they support, which uses solar energy to purify drinking water for the children in the slums. We visited several schools in which MCC is involved...providing a chance at education for children who who previously never have had that opportunity. 


For many, learning to read and write is secondary...the meals that are served are the reason they are there. 
 
And we made a trip out to the Masai Mari...where we saw first hand the importance of goats to the livelihood of these nomadic peoples. 

Goats survive drought much better than cattle, and provide milk for the families.  It is mostly the women and children who tend the herd of goats.  We had the opportunity to meet these particular 'goat-herders' and were invited into their village, where we even toured one of their homes...a tiny hut made of sticks and plastered with mud and cow dung.  It was here that we met the little fellow pictured above...the one who could not open his eyes because of the flies.  Our hearts went out to him...to all of them.

Though we at Mennonite Girls Can Cook are now partnering with MCC in providing food and shelter for street children in the Ukraine...I  am ever so thankful that I had the opportunity to see first-hand the work that MCC is doing in Kenya and the difference they are making the lives of so many children.  The goat project in Kenya has now been fully funded, and the Kenyan directors send a word of thanks to all who helped support it. If you are interested in knowing more about the Goat Stocking program and seeing pictures of the first goat distribution you can read about it right here

To all of you who have helped us in our quest to feed hungry children...thank-you! Thank-you for joining us in being the hands and feet of Jesus to 'the least of these' around the world. 

24 comments:

  1. When I was young my grandmother for Christmas made a donation in my name to feed hungry children in another country. Since then I have had a heart for them, too. Thank you for what you are doing. You warm my heart and it brings tears to my eyes to see the difference you are making in little lives - and the lives of the moms and dads who see their children suffering. May God bless you.

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  2. Oh the joy! Thanks for sharing

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  3. Thank you for reminding us what we tend to forget.

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  4. CinStraw (aka..Cindy or Cin)February 27, 2011 at 6:55 AM

    I know God wants us to help as many as we can.....my only problem with most people send their moneys ''somewhere else'' is that we have starving kids, parents, whole families right here in America.
    'If we can't take care of the ones in our own back yard...why do we think we should only take care of the ones in other countries'.
    Here is one example of a group that is helping and needs help with ''feeding the hungry on the streets''.
    Check out their web site:
    http://www.soxplace.com/index-home.shtml

    If you find you'd like to help, contact Troy, Josh or Doyle Robinson...click on STAFF and get their emails.

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  5. What a wonderful thing you are doing!! I love the idea of teaching them and providing a way for them to support themselves over time. Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are amazing.

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  6. Thank you for sharing a piece of your journey to Kenya. I'm sure your lives were changed as you walked amongst the locals. Whether at home or abroad...giving to help those in need is our responsibility....and a true blessing for the giver.

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  7. Thanks for sharing the experiences of your trip, our lives have been enriched as a result. Not just a holiday, that is for sure. Blessings to Ron and Martha for their faithful work as well as MCC.

    The goats look fairly healthy considering. Poor little guy with flies covering his eyes.
    Martha

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  8. Thank you for this, Judy. How neat to see first hand what a little by many can do!
    We are indeed blessed and to be able to give so others may have enough is a wonderful privilege.

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  9. Thank you so much for this post! I had to opportunity to travel to Kenya a year ago with MCC and our group spent some time with Ron & Martha. They are wonderful people and the work they are doing with MCC is so vital to improving the lives of Kenyans!
    Our group helped build classrooms and a library/resource centre in two different communities and we also spent a day working on a sand dam which provides clean water for farmers and communities.
    I love the work that MCC is doing in Kenya and I love the Kenyan people. As much as we hope to bless when we go on these missions trips, I think we come back feeling just as blessed by those we have worked with!
    Melissa

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  10. It is wonderful that MCC is providing such help and care to those in need and nourishing their bodies along with giving them a message of hope.

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  11. Such a wonderful way to help others. Thank you for sharing this with me today.

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  12. This really is a wonderful report on what we can do to help people all over the world and in our own backyards. When we all put our little together it can go a long way!

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  13. It's so good to hear how effective the help for Kenya has been. Does that mean it is self-supported now?

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  14. That is one amazing post. Unreal how God moves and stirs in the hearts of those who continue to serve and obey. I'm so happy that you could take the time to represent part of our MGCC group in Kenya. It truly is amazing how little it takes to help other in lead...'even to the least of these'

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  15. can i ask the 64 million dollar question...???

    why are you not helping out the poor on the streets of the US and/or the poor of North America???

    doesn't charity begin at home???

    i am not trying to be negative...i just know that there are millions here in the US and North America that could really benefit from your work....

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  16. Thanks to all of you for your comments and encouragement. And to those of you who suggested we might start by feeding those 'in our back yard'...I just wanted to say that we also feel called to support causes in our neighbourhood. While the cookbook royalties will be supporting an orphanage in the Ukraine...proceeds from our cooking classes are all being used to feed the hungry locally.

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  17. I really would like to add another comment regarding the need to help the ones in our backyard ...which we do ... for us Canadians, that would be right here in Canada ...There are many who need help, but if you have travelled overseas at all ... you simply cannot compare the needs. Our government still helps our poor ... no one needs to go the the local garbage dump to look for food... no child has maggots crawling about their eyes and blinding them... every child has the chance to go to school and get an education... while in some countries the government wants to keep them uneducated. I have seen this with my own eyes. I have lived where people came to our house asking for stale bread... I could go on, but you get the idea.
    Let's help where our heart leads and where we can.
    It may just be that North America, using most of the world's resources is responsible for more than just ourselves...we could begin by wasting less.

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  18. Re.. helping at home. I agree that charity starts at home and that we cannot turn a blind eye to those around us that need help. But when we consider that the poorest among us in North America are rich compared to people in other parts of the world .. can we ignore their need ?

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  19. A heart warming post. Just a thought to those worried about not helping those at home. My husband and I give of our time and energy, not to mention resources,by volunteering with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul through our church, to help the needy. At Christmas we gave all our kids goats and pigs as gifts, they were thrilled. You can support both. Angharad

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  20. ugh. i am so sorry if i came off as negative or putting down the great works that you all do.

    i am anonymous at 5:26. i love this blog. i love all of the "bread for the journey" posts. i love all of the recipes. did i mention that i love this blog?

    my question was to simply address that there are people here in our two countries (i am canadian too - woohoo!) that need help.

    i used to live in my country's capital (ottawa, ontario) and so many people need help there - i wish i could have done more! but i left the city to return to a simpler life in nova scotia --- not so many homeless here as we tend to take care of each other.

    so please forgive me if my comment offended.

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  21. I would like more information about the Kenya goat project. My church has supported missionaries to Kenya for ?? 30 years. My church sent out a couple, Dick and Jane Hamilton, at that time. They have been instrumental in drilling water wells and providing water to the Pokot tribe near Kiwawa. The water project was an "in road" to sharing the Gospel with these people. My church recently sent a group to Kenya to repair some of the wells and spend time with the Pokot people. We have such a strong connection. I would be interested in finding out how to provide goats to these people.

    Marie Sellers
    from Rogue Valley Christian Church
    Medford, OR
    sellerscm@msn.com

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  22. Thank you for all the comments. As blog administrator I thought I should just address the topic of how we decided where to give our royalties.
    We appreciate your sentiments so much. I also have knots in my stomach when I see the homeless in our town and I wonder what our responsibility is.

    To set your mind at ease. . .we are actually very community minded. It is our communities that benefit from what we do privately and now we will also begin to give our cooking class proceeds to our personal communities. I would also like to say that we have personally never taken one cent from this blog or anything else we are doing.

    The important thing is always to search where God would have us give. That is what we did. We spent much time discovering where our hearts were leading us and when we decided as 10 women. .we became very excited and so we love to share that excitement with everyone. Had we never mentioned that any money was to be made and just divided up everything. .there would be no question from anyone.

    If everyone did something in our countries where food is plenty there would be no starvation anywhere in the world and that is just the plain truth. The hard part for me is remembering that it is not up to me to judge when others are not willing to share.

    Thank you for asking and allowing us a chance to speak to the concern you have. We love our commenters!

    March 1, 2011 9:24 AM

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  23. I am coming late to this discussion however I am encouraged to see the concern shown by all of you in sharing the resources we have been so graciously given. God calls all of us to give and leads each of us to different areas of need. The need is great all over the world so if each of us gives as God directs us to, we can be His hands and feet throughout the whole earth.

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  24. This is wonderful, it is so exciting to see people helping people around the world. Providing the goats is such a great idea, you are very correct in saying self sustaining, that is so important. Thank you.

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