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Empowering women in East Africa

Presbyterian Peacemaker to share hopes and successes in U.S. this fall

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

Kenya-PeacemakerLOUISVILLE—Veronica Muchiri has a big job. As the organizer and secretary of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) National Woman’s Guild, she’s working to change the perception about women in East Africa.

The organization has a membership totaling 120,000 from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Its motto is “empowering Christian women transforming society.” That includes strengthening families, developing mentors and coaches, improving health programs and addressing environmental concerns. It also works to engage women as agents of peace, healing and reconciliation.

“We have divided our work into five regions that are headed by the Woman’s Guild Regional Organizers who reports to me,” she said. “We have 56 Presbyterian Councils of the Woman’s Guild that are further divided into parishes and congregations so that we are able to get to the women at the grassroots in the church and in the community.”

Muchiri is among the new group of peacemakers who will be visiting churches and schools across the U.S. from September 23 to October 17. She says poverty is the biggest challenge they face.

“There are many people in Kenya living in slums and make less than a dollar a day,” she said. “They lack basic necessities such as access to clean water, electricity, proper housing and basic education.”

Muchiri says Kenyan women often face discrimination and few are given the opportunity to serve in leadership positions in society.

“Women do most of the work at home, church and community,” she said. “They are rarely involved in decision making and in the distribution of resources.”

Despite the setbacks, Muchiri is encouraged when she sees women and girls empowered through their women’s empowerment and sponsorship programs.

“They become transformers in their families and societies,” she said. “Women are beginning to be recognized as equal partners in development and I am always happy to see them excel in their work and ministry.”

As she visits churches across the U.S., Muchiri will share the struggles and successes of Kenyan women and how they have played a major role as agents of justice, peace, healing and reconciliation.

“I hope to create an understanding between our people and our brothers and sisters in the U.S.,” she said. “I also hope this will lead to partnerships that will enhance our relationship with the churches in America and Africa.”

Muchiri also wants to learn from the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and how to integrate aspects of the program into Kenya’s own peacemaking efforts.

Since 1984, more than 220 international peacemakers from more than 57 countries have been hosted by Presbyterians.

Click here for more information about this year’s group of peacemakers.

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