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Panua Trip, Blog 2: A Day of Celebrations and Concerns

A Day of Celebrations and Concerns
By Ivor Singer

What a day of celebration and dealing with real-life concerns!

Celebrations:  It was graduation day for 30 students completed their training and Panua’s Salon and Beauty School.  (Panua operates a Salon and Beauty School where all profits go back to support the program).  There was a mix of 18 students from the Panua program and 12 students from the community at large.  This course teaches students how to style hair and gives them lifelong skills to be a hairdresser.  Several past students have started their own salons, or are now managing a salon.  

There was a processional parade, complete with a police escort, marching band and the students in cap and gowns processing through the streets of Naivasha, Kenya to a park where speeches were made from former students, Panua Kenyan staff, and Jensie Gobel and Ivor Singer representing the US Panua board.  Each student received a certificate and the whole ceremony was filmed by a TV station.  There was a large cake cutting ceremony as cake was started with the estimated more than 100 in attendance.  

For many of these young women and men, it was the first major accomplishment in their lives, where they were celebrated due to their hard work.  It was the first cap and gown ceremony and it was a major step for them to become self-sufficient to support themselves and their siblings.

Real life concerns:  Did you know that Panua operates a 5-acre farm near Naivasha as part of our agriculture training program?  Last year was the first year and maize and beans were planted.  These are major staples in the Kenyan diet.  The acreage is controlled and managed by the chief and community leaders.  Let year several members of FUMCWP visited the farm and learned of its progress.  Our first crop was a learning lesson as a draught and worm infestations affected the yields.  With the rainy season beginning, the field is now prepared to plant again.  Dr. Michael Read, who has worked in agriculture in Africa and around the world, joined our team to help.  We had a wonderful meeting with the chief, community leaders, our Panua Kenyan and U.S. team to discuss food shortages and hunger concerns in that area.  They welcomed the advice as the Panua team is working to improve production yield and help feed the area.  Panua youth are learning more about agribusiness and the Panua program is offering hope of future sustainable training and job security in the agribusiness.  The community is being served and many of our youth and the community at large will benefit from this ongoing relationship.  

It is amazing to see and feel God’s presence as lives are being transformed, relationships are being forged in a positive way and hope of a better future is being reinforced.  We

 see the blessings we have in caring for others and seeing the impact the Panua mission is having in the community.  

Oh, and one other important thing, today we were greeted by individual hand-written cards from he FUMCWP “Gathered in His Name” committee.  Thank you for your beautiful writings and blessings.  Ivor Singer, Jensie Gobel, Evanne Mines, Michael Read and Dalila Read are truly blessed and thankful to be representing the church and seeing first hand how our church is touching the lives of others in such a Christ-like way.  Jamba from Naivasha, Kenya.