When Joyce’s husband passed away of AIDS while she was pregnant with her youngest child, she had few options. After being stripped of her inheritance and land by her in-laws, Joyce and her four young children were forced to live in Kibera slum, Kenya, and rely on any relief her family or the many organizations working in Kibera might give her. She too was infected with HIV and her failing health made it difficult to find work, so she began to beg on the streets.
The pastor of her church in Kibera, a partner of Life In Abundance International, noticed that Joyce and her family were particularly vulnerable members of the congregation. He invited her to participate in a Training of Trainers program at the church, equipping her to serve as a community health worker. A quick learner, Joyce’s pastor realized Joyce would truly benefit from being involved in the Konjo shoe project, where she would have the opportunity to learn new skills, in hopes of setting up her own business to provide for her family in the future.
The Konjo shoe project is run by a group of local churches in Kibera slum, supported by Life In Abundance, to provide skills and spiritual support for some of the most vulnerable women in the community.
Joining the Konjo team brought about a remarkable change in Joyce’s life. As a student, she is determined, very active, cooperative and hard working. For three months, she committed herself to training every day, taking only Thursdays off take care of necessities at home. The project has provided a safe space for her to socialize with others, helping her find community and realize that she is not alone in her struggles.
Over time, Joyce has become so skilled in her craft, that she now trains other women in shoe making. She makes beautiful sandals using old jeans and skirts to make them unique. This has allowed her to cultivate a local market for her products, giving her the financial stability she needs to pay for items like all of her children’s school fees, with little struggle. She has also joined a revolving fund group, where she always attends and contributes. She is soon looking forward to securing a loan to start her own small, stand-alone business. In addition to selling to her own customers, Joyce recently became a full time employee of the Konjo project, aiding in the operations and training components of the program.
Joyce is now an active, contributing member of her community, empowered to provide for her family and participate confidently in the Kingdom work alongside her sisters in Christ. Her transformation has led her from a beggar on the streets to an enterprising shoemaker and businesswoman.