Christine’s Story

Christine’s Story

It’s Soul Sunday, and I was just sitting down to write a blog post for the 100 Humanitarians website, when I saw an article with Christine‘s story in it. This is the story that she tells our teams in Kenya, usually the night before we do a workshop at a school or the rescue center we work in. Christine is an Ambassador for Days for Girls, and she is also our Director of Women’s Initiatives in Kenya. She stays very busy!

For a long time, Christine didn’t like sharing this story, and when you read it, you will understand why. As she has shared it over the years, she has learned to understand the power in telling your story, and how it helps others.

Christine is the bravest woman I know, and one of the best friends I have ever had. Plus, half my clothes in my closet now were made by her.  I’m so grateful that at Angella‘s event four years ago we were able to help raise the funds to send her to Uganda to learn how to sew Days for Girls kits. Her team has sewn and distributed over 4000 kits that 100 Humanitarians International has funded since then. It’s a drop in the ocean in Kenya, but it is still a drop, and we will keep going.

Please stop and read Christine’s story. Imagine if this was your mother, your daughter, your sister, your friend. I always think, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Christine’s life is a miracle, and she lived through it, to be able to teach us about connection and humanity. It’s a story of heartache and triumph.

A few years ago, Christine and I were roommates on one of our expeditions. We stayed up half the night giggling and talking and sharing stories. I remember thinking that no matter what our past is, women are absolutely amazing at bonding and finding connection.

To donate a Days for Girls kit each month that is made and distributed by Christine and her team in Kenya, click here and choose “Monthly Donation”

100 Humanitarians Meets the HopeSaC

100 Humanitarians Meets the HopeSaC

Who would have thought a chance meeting in the spring of 2018 would have placed me where I am today?

Of all things, it was at a sew-a-thon, sewing underwear that I first met Heidi Totten. I knew she ran some kind of humanitarian thing and I wanted to see what she thought about the retained heat cooking bag I called a HopeSaC, which stands for Hope, Service and Charity.

Long story short, Heidi took 5 HopeSaC kits to Kenya in June of 2018. A HopeSaC kit includes pre-sewn components for a fabric thermal cooker. Once filled with insulation it can be used to cook, saving time, fuel and money.

The first thing Heidi said to me after returning from her June trip was “I want you on the trip in October with more of those HopeSaCs”.

Like I would say “no”. 🙂

Where does one even start when sharing Kenya? The trip was over-the-top amazing! I loved everything about the experience. But of course, my time sharing HopeSaC with the people was the activity closest to my heart.

We took 30 HopeSaC kits on the October 2019 trip. Some of the kits went to Bomet, others to the Mara and the Rescue center in Narok. But the two days we spent in Nkareta were something special.

The days were hot. Much of the time was spent building GardenSaCs/towers at the homes of people in the community. I remember at one point someone coming to me and saying, “Cindy, you have got to see this”.  After which I was escorted into a kitchen. It was actually a mud hut, inside the door was a short walkway which lead to one small room with three-bed areas. In the center toward the back wall, I could see the glow of embers in a version of a clay rocket stove. It was U shaped leaving one side open to feed kindling and keep the fire going, a pot sitting on top. Yes, the room was hot, unbearably, and smoky, my eyes were burning, but what affected me the most was the darkness. It was almost pitch black inside with no electricity to turn on a light.

All I could think about was “this is why I do this” one cooker at a time.

We spent some time showing the women how to use the HopeSaCs. They gathered around and were listening, watching and asking questions. All with skepticism showing clearly on their faces. They seriously thought I was crazy. What made it worse was that the pot I had brought from the hotel could not be placed on the open flame so they had to pour boiling water over the rice instead of bringing it to a boil. Not something I would suggest doing by the way.

Their skepticism was short lived. Just over an hour later I opened the HopeSaC to reveal beautifully cooked rice. The room was abuzz with excited and surprised women speaking quickly to each other.

They liked the HopeSaCs! 🙂

A few of weeks later I received pictures showing the women working together, teaching each other how to use the HopeSaC cookers.  I love those pictures and what they represent!

I leave again next week, making my way back to Kenya. It has been four months since my first trip. 100 Humanitarian and The HopeSaC Project will be hosting a ceremony in Nkareta for 25 women who are now HopeSaC Certified Users. We will be taking HopeSaC kits with us for 15 more families in Nkareta, and more to Bomet where 20 families will start learning and teaching each other the art of retained heat cooking.

Amazing.

Here we are, it is almost spring again, one short year later.

It has been an amazing and very humbling journey.

And it is only the beginning.

Stay tuned. 🙂