Inability to feed children, care for their health and education is a struggle and impossibility for families in North and East Africa. Breaking the cycle of poverty means not just providing for the day, but working with folks that already have an idea about how they can be pulled up in a state of equality if key resources can be tapped into. Many times western Non-Governmental Organizations have programs and plans that are scaled and adaptable to the culture that made them rather than for the culture that they are meant for. This misplaced compassion has a way of backfiring on helping people and can actually hurt.
For people to sustain themselves they must get beyond survival. To do this, basic necessities need to be obtained… achieved and not necessarily handed out. Of course, the pendulum swing to this issue is that we tend to go directly from pouring aid into countries to total removal of all assistance - this can shoot our efforts in the foot.
For Mary and Joyce, an economic solution for their families manifested only in their imaginations. If they had a small building with bulk supplies that they could portion out and sell for a profit, then things would take a turn. When they shared their ambition and business plan, it was clear that a micro loan would not be a solution but another obstacle. Working together with the families took much time. The additional time helped ideas to crystallize that would prevent pitfalls that the project would encounter if it were not tailor made. The plan developed that Mary would no longer pay rent to Joyce and Joyce would own the store, Mary would use the store to sell boiled water and use the money to support her children rather than pay rent. Joyce would sell items and replenish the supplies using the profit to care for her family. Once the plan was solid, MERCY PARTNERS provided funding for a local welder to create a kiosk and enough funds to outfit the supply. Since “Jack’s Store” opened it has paid for school fees, medicine, and bread and juice for Sunday’s Lord Supper celebration with the church family. They have even used it as a tool of evangelism as the store is a daily touchstone for those that pass by. The name “Jack” derived from the name of a goat who director Tom took note of that eventually became the reason the families were introduced to MERCY PARTNERS. Since the encounter, there have been scores baptized in which two church families have grown from in E. Africa.