On this International Women’s Day, we recognize that women worldwide continue to experience great inequities and abuses – which demand a unified and immediate response. It’s not instead of, but because of this, that we would like to share a blog of celebration and hope today.
As a church, Kensington supports the ministries of indigenous leaders in ten different countries as they meet physical and spiritual needs among their people. Additionally, we have our own grass-roots sponsorship program, NoChild, which matches sponsors with vulnerable children in three countries: India, Nepal, and Kenya. NoChild has brought food, healthcare, education, and the hope of Jesus to more than 4,500 kids over the past 12 years.
Girls With A Future (In India):
According to a 2020 report from United Nations, an estimated 1.5 million underage girls marry each year in India, and the pandemic seems to have caused a spike in numbers. This online NPR article cited a child protection officer of south-central India, saying before the pandemic, the child marriage cases he encountered typically involved 16 or 17-year-olds. Now he’s seeing brides as young as 12.
Despite great adversity, these two girls are enrolled in the university. This photo was taken just a few days ago in Dowlaiswaram, India where our Global Partner, Impact India 360, is educating younger students and resourcing older students to pursue higher education.
NoChild sponsorships in India give vulnerable and orphaned girls a home, an education, and the opportunity to dream of a brighter future.
We recently talked with Jothsna, a 2020 Electrical and Electronics Engineering graduate who is now pursuing her Master’s in Power Electronics and Drives. When we asked Jothsna what she would like to share with younger girls, she said, “I want to tell younger girls…knowledge is something that gives access to whatever we want. When a girl is educated, she is empowered. She can make decisions for herself, raise the standard of living for her family. She can educate her children and build a stronger family and society.”
Girls With A Future (In Nepal):
Independent research indicates that up to 40,000 girls are trafficked each year from Nepal to India to work in brothels within India and throughout the Middle East. Our Global Partner in Nepal, Our Daughters International, is rescuing and restoring trafficked girls as well as taking preventative measures through education, legislation, and community development.
NoChild sponsorships in Nepal enable vulnerable girls to remain in school, gaining knowledge as well as a sense of self-worth in this patriarchal society. Their sponsored education opens doors to becoming respected leaders and self-sustaining business owners in their communities.
The rescues, border stations, and preventative education are working. Thousands of Nepali girls have received counsel and hundreds have been rescued. We wanted to share just one of these stories of “rescue and restoration” with you (adapted from ourdaughtersinternational.org):
Sumi was a teenager from an extremely impoverished village in Nepal. She accepted a ride from a kind truck driver while walking the two hours home from her daily trek to collect water. He kidnapped her, raped her, and smuggled her to the border to be sold. She was spotted at the border, questioned, and rescued. Sumi spent six months in a safe house, healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When she returned to her village, Sumi was determined to protect other girls from the same danger. She shared her experiences and urged the community to dig their own wells. With the help of nonprofits, the village was able to dig four wells, sustaining 1,000 families. Sumi became recognized as a local leader, and she continues to advocate for positive changes in her community today.
Girls With A Future (In Kenya):
It is hard to believe, but Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still practiced in many areas of the world, with millions of girls at risk annually. Our Global Partner in Kenya, Pokot Outreach Ministries (POM), is combatting this gruesome practice through education. The Pokot tribe residing in western Kenya has done FGM for many generations, and changing customs takes consistent effort and creative intervention. Prior to the pandemic, Becky Chebet, Director of Women’s Ministry for POM, held huge anti-FGM rallies attended by more than one thousand Pokot people, challenging them to end Female Genital Mutilation in their families and villages.
Becky says that she was one of the only girls in her village to attend high school. Her teenage friends underwent FGM and early marriages.
NoChild sponsorships in Kenya give vulnerable girls a home, healthy meals, medical care, an education, and the chance to hear about Jesus. There are three orphan homes in the Pokot region which house around 700 children. Currently, there are over 100 girls in Kenya awaiting sponsors.
“Sponsorship for these girls in India, Kenya, and Nepal means that girls can finish their education, fulfill their dreams, become leaders in their communities, and be world-changers for Jesus!” says Peg Ohman, NoChild Coordinator.