The rural village of Ibokolo is situated within the town of Butere, Kakamega County in Western Kenya. The closest major city is Kisumu which is approximately an hour's drive away and the 3rd largest city in Nairobi.
According to the most recent census, the population of Ibokolo is 4,725 and the main tribe occupying this area are the Luhya people.
Ibokolo is mainly made up of extended family groups all centred around the oldest, living, patriarchial figure within each family unit. There is a high percentage of widows and single mothers in the village and they are often marginalised by the community finding themselves isolated and without support. In addition, the village is notorious as there are many people with an alcohol addiction because illicit brew is made here and there are 3 bars easily accessible.
Typically families live together in traditional mud huts with grass thatched or iron sheet roofs, they predominately exist hand to mouth living off the land, farming is the main way of life for most people here. It is estimated that the majority of the population lives well below the poverty line, without adequate food or access to clean water.
We have seen God at work in mighty ways since moving into the village and firmly believe that He will continue to catalyse change to bind up the brokenhearted and set the captives free. We are trusting God that each individual within Ibokolo will come to have a personal relationship with Him and therefore walk in their God-given purpose.
We believe that God has ably equipped the people of Ibokolo with the necessary skills, knowledge and resources required for a good quality of life. However, the longer we have worked here and built relationships with the people, it is evident that many of them are living under the oppression of a poverty mindset. Disillusion and apathy are very common with people believing that their only help is through handouts. We operate from an asset-based approach and aim to empower each person to be a good steward of the gifts God has given them. Our hope is that through finding Jesus, every family will have a solution to bring them out of poverty and into the knowledge that they are seen, they matter, and they can be change makers.
The process of building relationships with local people has enabled us to identify that we should focus on the following three areas of oppression: spiritual, emotional, and physical. In response to this, we want to catalyse access to food, freedom and forgiveness in pursuing the following initiatives:
1. Food - Income-generating activities – We gather small groups of people from the community together, find out what they already have and know and then work with them to build on this and establish a business that will bring them a regular source of income. It is our desire to empower the community to come together and ensure that absolutely no-one is left behind.
2. Freedom - Targeted groups – Currently we run a group for vulnerable girls and another for married couples. We hope to soon have groups for first-time mothers, single parents, those living with HIV or AIDS, secondary school leavers, people experiencing mental health needs, and those struggling with addiction. From our experience of living in this community, emotional well-being is not high on the list of priorities and so many people are suffering in silence and alone. Through conversations with members of our groups, past hurts have a hugely detrimental impact on people’s lives, often holding them back and contributing to their isolation as they either push others away or are pushed away. A lot of what we focus on in our groups is about the power of forgiveness and how it can release them to walk in what is rightfully theirs.
3. Forgiveness– this area is steeped in the occult with rituals and sacrifices governing much of how the village operates. We want to bring Freedom in Christ to everyone in Ibokolo through weekly Bible discussions, home-based care/home visits (showing the love of God practically) and being intentional about drawing alongside individuals/families and loving them well.