By Judy Makori; Senior Writer MOHI on Aug 2, 2019 2:23:49 PM
If you have been a visitor at the MOHI gift shop located at our Pangani headquarters, then you have no doubt interacted with Philice Juma.
Petite, with a ready smile on her face; Philice is a joy to be around and is very helpful around the gift shop where she has worked since 2018.
Curious to know more about this lady, I sit down with her on a cold Tuesday morning outside both our offices for a friendly chat.
MY STORY - THE GENESIS
I was born 25 years ago in Kisumu to a family of eight. I have three brothers and two sisters and I am the third-born in the family. My father died when I was about 10 years old, leaving our mother to raise us single handedly.
Without any formal training, my mother was not able to find employment and had to rely on casual jobs. These were not just scarce but far between and we often had to make do without our basic necessities. Paying our school fees was a challenge and my mother asked me to defer taking my grade eight exit exam so she could pay for my brother to go before me. I waited for a year before I was able to sit for the national exam.
For my high school education, I was sent to live with an aunt at Ahero - still in Kisumu - and she paid for my schooling. I ended up living with her for five years. When I sat for my high school exit exam, I overheard my aunt saying that she had done her part (in educating me) and that someone else should now take over.
There was no one else to “take over” and I knew my prospects of going to college were next to zero. I heard her make numerous promises that she would pay for my tertiary education but they came to naught. At the same time, she started loading me with housework and I realised her intention was to keep me at her home. Perhaps have me pay her back the money she used to educate me.
I decided to leave Kisumu and make my way to Nairobi’s Baba Dogo where one of my older brothers was living. This was in 2014. There was just one problem: I had no money and I could not ask my aunt for help. It took a while to raise the amount I needed for my fare, but I did not give up. I wanted more for my life and was convinced that I would not achieve much if I remained there.
It’s been five years since I left and I am still convinced that if I had not done what I did, I would still be stuck in Ahero, working as a househelp for my aunt.
Once in Nairobi, I stayed with my brother for a couple of months before a cousin introduced me to Missions of Hope International (MOHI).
They had a center near where I was staying, at Baba Dogo, and were offering a program to train caretakers of children with special needs. It was free-of-charge and because I needed something to do, I gladly joined the learners.
Going to the center turned out to be the best decision I ever made. Not only did I find something to keep me busy and acquire a new skill; I got to hear the gospel preached and I gave my life to Christ. This brought about transformation within me and I started to have hope for my future. I joined a local church where I now serve as a Sunday school teacher.
In January 2015, the center started beadwork training and my brother helped me raise the required nominal fee. I enrolled for the classes and finished the course in December of the same year. Together with my fellow learners, I started making jewellery that we would sell to the gift shop at Pangani. I was happy to be making my own money and felt that there was hope for my life.
In 2016, the beadwork classes were moved to MOHI’s Technical Training Center at the Kariobangi center. Although I had already finished my training, I would still go there just to perfect my designs and to make pieces that I would sell.
This was my daily experience until 2018 when I received training on making special African themed art pieces using corrugated iron sheets and african print cloth.
The training was specialized in that the trainer was looking for someone who would be in-charge of making these pieces and would be responsible for selling them at the gift shop.
That was how I found myself working full-time at the MOHI gift shop.
INTERN AT THE GIFT SHOP
I help with the day-to-day running of the shop and also make time to create my art pieces and jewellery. I also assist in teaching others the beadwork skill at the Kariobangi center. It brings me joy to see people who come knowing nothing about beadwork leave with a life changing skill.
I love what I do and I look forward to owning my own jewelry shop in the near future.To make this dream a reality, I just joined MOHI’s microfinance where I look forward to save so I can secure a loan at a later date.
My faith in God has grown tremendously and my hope has been renewed. I am so grateful to those who make the skills training a success. Because of them, I am not who I was before. What they do is not in vain and may God bless them so much.
It was for people like Philice that the skills training opportunity was created. We thank God each time we play a part in bringing hope to an individual’s life by giving them a skill that will help them earn a living. Your partnership makes this possible.
Continue partnering with us in the work God has called us to do among children and families living in disadvantaged communities to transform their lives through hope in Christ.