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Empowering Women in Sub-Saharan Africa

Empowering Women in Sub-Saharan Africa


Mary, living in a slum in Nairobi, was thinking of suicide. She had a two-year-old daughter and a two-week-old baby boy. It was the middle of the pandemic, she had no food, and she could not produce enough breastmilk for the baby. It was a dire situation. However, soon, she met Maggie Gichana, a Kenyan WGM global worker, who discovered her situation and who worked diligently to get her the food and help she needed. This is the story of how that happened.

A long line of women standing along the side of a road.

Least of These is committed to helping people who suffer in unimaginable ways through relief.

During the shutdown period of the COVID pandemic, WGM’s Least of These (LOT) project in Nairobi partnered with the Living Learning Community for Leadership Development with African Women (LLC) project, both of which work out of Nairobi, Kenya. LOT provides healthcare and education to more than 1,000 Kenyan orphans and vulnerable children living in the greater Nairobi area, but when COVID hit, WGM global workers Jennifer Bennett and Robyn Moore realized that besides meeting the needs of these children, many women were left stranded with no jobs or means to make an income to buy food for their children.

These women would literally sit by the roadside by the dozens begging for any kind of work they could find. It was a very sad and depressing sight! Jennifer and Robyn decided to provide food through LOT for these women. They turned to their Kenyan friend, Maggie, and asked if she would help to deliver the food to the women at the roadsides. Jennifer then had an idea—she suggested that Maggie take the leftover food home with her and to look for women in her neighborhood who were in need. Maggie became an LOT volunteer and began to provide relief for women in her area in the form of rice, flour, beans, peanut butter, oil, and many other staples.

Three women handing out bags of food from the back of a car

Robyn Moore, Jennifer Bennett, and Maggie Gichana pass out food during COVID.

At the same time, Maggie was working with the LLC and had learned a lot about grassroots leadership efforts and how to organize women into groups so that they could begin to help each other. In fact, the LLC is a group of African women living together in community in Nairobi, studying leadership and change theory and learning how to approach complex problems, how to discern the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and how to promote the kingdom of God, sometimes in the face of daunting challenges. The integration of these two ministries (LOT and LLC) was unintentional but natural—a powerful combination of efforts and resources to benefit marginalized women, many of whom come from the slums in Nairobi.

Because of Jennifer’s and Robyn’s foresight and passion to help women in the midst of their complex situations, Maggie was able to launch her own women’s group first by providing relief in the way of food staples. Eventually, though, her work led her to do much more, and in August 2022, Maggie officially joined the WGM team as a global worker.

Maggie began to ask the women to stay for a while, sit in a circle, and share their stories with one another.

Following the model of the LLC, Maggie began to ask the women to stay for a while, sit in a circle, and share their stories with one another before giving them their gifts of food. Eventually, they began to pray for one another.

The LLC provided a Swahili Bible for each of the women, and then they began to read Scripture at each meeting and discuss it. They also started their own entrepreneurial activities by starting small hawking businesses. They dream of owning a peanut grinding machine and making peanut butter to sell during the week (they meet on Sunday afternoons).

This women’s group has been modeled after the LLC—a community based upon three components: mutuality, dialogue, and Christian love. Maggie does not see herself as over the women, but equal to them. She uses dialogue every time they meet to help them to communicate their life stories while others listen with compassion and love.

Nine women seated on the ground, studying the Bible together

The women engage with Maggie in Bible study with their Swahili Bibles.

One of the realities we have discovered in Africa is that often, people need resources in order to begin to develop themselves individually and collectively to be able to take care of themselves and to help others. LOT is committed to helping people who suffer in unimaginable ways through relief. With Jennifer’s and Robyn’s foresight to provide food for these particular women, Maggie had the opportunity to start working with them.

Eventually, they began to develop skills and capacities to help themselves and others. They still need help. They still need cooking oil and other basic staples, but now they are also helping themselves to earn a small amount of money, they are bonded into a vibrant community of love and support, and they exude the peace of Jesus.

A smiling woman standing in front of a map of Africa

In August 2022, Maggie officially joined the WGM team as a global worker.

This community is an outgrowth of the LLC. Essentially, the LLC has multiplied, not only here in Nairobi, but also with a group of women in northeast Nigeria with the help of global worker Pat Ali. The Living Learning Community is becoming the Living Learning Communities! The partnership between LOT and the LLC was a powerful catalyst to help the LLC multiply.

It might not be an exaggeration to say that LOT saved Mary’s life. After receiving food, she was able to breastfeed again, they had their rent taken care of for a year, and the family was blessed with beds and sheets (they had been sleeping on the floor), food, clothing, and other supplies from LOT. Maggie stays in touch with her today. The impact may well last for generations.


PRAY: Lift up this partnership between LOT and the LLC. Pray for God to use these ministries to impact many more women and families and to change lives—and eternities—as a result.

GIVE: Are you passionate about empowering women or caring for vulnerable children? Check out the Living Learning Community program or Least of These to see how you can share Christ’s love by partnering with these ministries.

Global Worker Bios:

Shelley A. Chapman, PhD, serves as a consultant for leadership development and higher education throughout Africa. Her roles include teaching leadership studies and education courses in universities and seminaries and supervising the Living Learning Community for Leadership Development with African Women.

Maggie Gichana hails from western Kenya and is a scholarship recipient of the Living Learning Community for Leadership Development with African Women program in Nairobi, through which she is pursuing a degree in counseling psychology. Her goal is to replicate the group processes of the LLC with small groups of women in the slums of Nairobi, as well as in other African countries such as Burundi and Rwanda.

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