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Reaching out to the Turkana

By | Published Sun, May 1st 2011 at 00:00, Updated January 1st 1970 at 03:00 GMT +3

For more than ten years, Lois Mwangi has been working with the Turkana people by providing them with education, healthcare, food, water and other basic needs. She spoke to NJOKI CHEGE

To her numerous relatives and friends, Lois Mwangi is referred to as the ‘glamorous granny’ because of her graceful demeanour and her heart of gold.

At her party last week in her Karen home to mark her 70th birthday, Lois’ friends and family paid glowing tribute to her charitable and compassionate nature that has seen her feed, clothe and shelter many needy Kenyans.

Born in Muranga to parents who eked a living from farming, Lois prides in being a staunch Christian and a prayer warrior. She is the first of seven children and, thanks to her father who was a staunch Anglican, she went to school.

Lois Mwangi

"My father was a great man. He believed that what a boy could do, a girl could do it as well. Dad built my self esteem and encouraged me to be the best I could be," she narrates, adding that she was one of the few girls in her village to enjoy formal education.

Lois attended Kahuhia Girl’s High School in Murang’a then trained as a teacher at St Marks Teachers Training College in Embu. She later changed her career to accounting after she got married. Today she is the chairperson of Share International Kenya that works closely with the people of Turkana.

"My parents instilled in me the value of giving generously. My father especially encouraged us to be hospitable to strangers by urging us to always give them food and drink," narrates Lois.

Share International is a non-profit evangelical mission agency established to reach out to the less fortunate in society. Dr Sammy Murimi, who now resides in the US, founded it in 1993.

"Dr Murimi shared the idea with me and I thought ‘why not?’ I loved the opportunity to serve the poor on a wider scope so I went on board as the secretary to the Board," says Lois.

Holistic programme

Currently, Share International has several projects in Turkana region.

"Our programme is holistic as it includes providing education for children at all levels, healthcare, food relief, counselling, digging water boreholes and building hospitals," Lois says.

With funds from overseas (donors, churches and individuals), Lois and her team have transformed the lives of many families in Turkana. For instance, at any given time, Share International sponsors the education of at least 200 children.

"We also use our work to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ," says Lois.

Earlier in February, Lois was part of a team that hosted an outreach in Naipa, a village in Turkana. The week was marked by prayer walks, open-air evangelism and baptism.

Lois believes she was put on earth by God specifically to love others and care for them, to the best of her capacity.

"People are suffering in parts of this country because of various hardships in life, and Kenyans need to be challenged to give to the poor. You need not have money to give to the poor, all you need is love and compassion," says Lois.

Voluntary counselling

Still in the spirit of giving back to society, Lois is an experienced voluntary family counsellor, providing voluntary HIV and Aids training and counselling.

"I also love working with the youth and meet with them regularly. I love to share my experience and knowledge with the youth because I believe they need to be counselled by elders like me to give them a sense of direction," she says.

So where does she get the strength to do all this? "Well, God for one has loved me and given me the strength to love others. I have been blessed so I can be a blessing to others. My family, too, has been very supportive of my efforts and are always there to give a hand," says Lois.

Cheering her on the most is her husband John Mwangi, to whom she has been married for the past 49 years. Together, they have four children, all of whom have been initiated into humanitarian work. Lois is also a grandmother of five.

"My husband and I are looking forward to celebrating our golden jubilee next year," she says.

When not busy with her charitable work or spending time with her big family, Lois loves gardening, doing flower arrangements in church, reading the Bible and motivational books.