Posts

Chemka: A Woman of Substance

Chemka: A Woman of Substance

Chemka: A Woman of Substance

Hope is a powerful virtue. Opportunity to engender hope in the lives of others is transformational. A Kenyan woman named Chemka, from the village of Sabatia Gurugwa, is the definition of hope. I recently read her story in a field update from a women’s empowerment project that The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) has been supporting in Kenya to teach literacy and record-keeping skills to underprivileged women. Chemka joined other women in the program to make effective use of these skills by forming a savings and lending group to give members the opportunity to start small income-generating businesses.

A single mother, 46-years-old and struggling, Chemka happily recounted that after joining her local empowerment group and buying shares, she was able to secure a small loan to start a business selling fruit, onions and tomatoes. She proudly reports that her enterprise is doing well, and from it, she is able to save money and provide food for her child. She is also now feeling a powerful confidence in her ability to one day expand her business, and open a shop.

What jumped out at me most of Chemka’s account is her new view of herself: “Surely now, I can be called a woman of substance.”

And I was reminded that with just a mustard seed of encouragement and training, we can change lives, we can engender hope…not only in a financial sense, but in a sense of personal accomplishment. And once that journey has begun, for many we help, there is momentum – the impetus to continue reaching beyond perceived limitations.

We know of many, like Chemka, who rejoice in their newfound ability to provide healthier meals to their children, to finally send children to school, and to share in the financial responsibility for their families. These fundamental abilities are often taken for granted in America, but not for women like Chemka.

We have heard from women, like Everlyne Gibendi, who said, “I had nothing to do, but wait for my husband to buy and cater for the family. I thought I was not important in the family.” Everlyne has since parlayed a small business selling vegetables and fish into enough money to buy a motorcycle that she and her husband rent for additional income.

Stories of empowerment like these are told in SAWSO’s Annual Report. The report celebrates people everywhere who are taking the opportunities that God presents to lift up their spirits and change their lives. One of the gifts of serving God in SAWSO is helping a woman like Chemka come to realize that God always intended for her to be and see, that she is truly a woman of substance.

•••

Lieutenant Colonel Joan Canning is the Executive Director of The Lt. Colonel Joan CanningSalvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO). SAWSO’s vision is to “create a world where people live in safe and sustainable communities in which differences are respected, basic needs are met, and all enjoy opportunities to learn, work, and worship in freedom.” Learn more at www.SAWSO.org.

USA National Commander Visits Minamisannriku

Japan Tsunami Recovery Continues With Help from Salvation Army


Courtesy of www.theaustralian.com.au

Contributed by Brian Swarts, Assistant Program Director – Strategic Planning for The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO).

Two years ago today, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan creating a tsunami large and powerful enough to rush several miles inland and cover the rooftops of five-story buildings. Nearly 19,000 were left dead or missing and over 300,000 were displaced. In Japan this day is remembered as 3.11.

On that day, thousands were forced out of their homes into temporary shelters. Most of these people lost not only their homes, but also their livelihoods and their friends. Yet, in the midst of this tragedy, The Salvation Army was ready with open arms and helping hands from the very beginning, and we continue today walking alongside communities as they strive to rebuild their lives.

Immediately after the disaster hit, Salvation Army corps opened up their doors to provide food and shelter to victims and our canteen (mobile kitchen) vehicles traveled from shelter to shelter to share hot meals and words of comfort with those who were suffering. The Salvation Army also provided heaters and other essential items to help elderly citizens and families prepare for a harsh winter in their temporary homes.

Since 3.11.11, we have been working hand-in-hand with several hard-hit fishing villages on the northeast coast, offering hope and vital resources for their recovery. In the town of Onagawa, The Salvation Army has worked with city officials, the chamber of commerce and a local company, Trident Seafoods, to build a temporary shopping center so business owners could get back to work and locals would have a place to meet their basic needs. We have also supported the local fisherman’s union, the life blood of this small community, to replace lost boats and equipment so they would not miss the fishing season. Similar efforts have been undertaken in other towns, such as Ofunato and Mininamisanriku, which even has a campaign to promote tourism by building a tsunami remembrance hall and inviting outside visitors to celebrate important Japanese festivals in solidarity with their town. It is the temporary shopping center, supported by The Salvation Army, which is at the heart of all of these efforts.


The Salvation Army donated forklifts and other essential equipment to devastated villages.


Donations allowed The Salvation Army to provide fishing boats to hard-hit villages.

Yet, the most memorable gestures of support are smaller ones. They are the stories of Salvation Army officers celebrating Christmas with elderly citizens isolated in temporary housing shelters or the support that The Salvation Army has given to a woman helping youth with developmental disabilities – she is the only source of comfort and support in her small town for many who are dealing with the tragedy.


Visiting with displaced senior citizens residing at temporary shelters.


Commissioner William A. Roberts, National Commander of The Salvation Army USA visits the town of Minamisannriku, where The Salvation Army continues to serve and provide recovery services.

Doing The Most Good we can for those in greatest need is central to the mission of The Salvation Army and we have a vision to continue doing this in Japan as communities recover. After two years most victims, many of them elderly and alone, are still displaced from their homes and hometowns. The Salvation Army has been requested by the local government to visit and provide counseling to these residents to ensure they know that they have not been forgotten and they do not lose hope for the future.

If you would like to support The Salvation Army’s continued recovery efforts in Japan and around the world, please donate to The Salvation Army’s World Service Office at: https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/SAWSO.

Reposted from the The Salvation Army USA’s Blog.