Student to share stories from Africa

In northern Kenya, orphaned children and people with disabilities are frequently shunned and unable to provide for themselves. Kristiana Ward, a senior at John Brown University, helped create a group of women to address their needs.

Ward will be hosting an event to raise awareness and money for the group in Siloam Springs on Oct. 27, at the fellowship Hall of Grace Episcopal Church. The evening, which begins at 7 p.m., will include Kenyan chai tea, a bake sale, live Kenyan music and a time of prayer. Jewelry made by the women in Kenya to raise money will also be available to buy.

Ward said she hoped people would come to the event.

“People aren’t against helping,” she said. “They just don’t always know how to help. People won’t be giving just to give money – they will also be helping these people.”

The Kuemseti Self Help Group gained official recognition with the Kenyan government in August 2011. The initial project included a small group of ladies who wanted to help the marginalized people in their community with the money they made through beaded jewelry.

The group is now starting to train disabled women in the skills of beading so they can earn a living for themselves, Ward said.

“In Africa, disabled people are seen as different and they are unable to work,” Ward said. “As a result, they are often excluded and don’t have a place in the society.”

Amin Lchagi, the husband of one of the original women, also frequently provides transportation to the clinics for people who need help. Ward said he has done a lot of the work for setting things up in Africa.

One of the reasons for the fundraiser now is to provide the financial means to start new projects. Ward said another possible project is creating a community garden to help the people become self-sustainable.

Part of the evening’s presentation will include pictures and stories of the people who are part of the group in Kenya. For more information, contact Ward at