A Story by our co-founder, late mother, and wife, Leah Fleming:

“When we moved to the small village of Lowangila Kenya in 2015 we began to realize how truly destitute the people of the village are and the Lord has burdened our hearts to help them. I began to question the ladies about how they got money to feed their families. What I discovered was a back breaking story.

The women rise up early to make some tea for their children before they leave for the day. Then they take a long piece of fabric and tie it around their stomachs really tight. They tell me that if they do that, they can work all day and not get hungry. Then they walk 4 miles to get to the forest where they cut down trees. This forest is in the game reserve and they are not really supposed to cut trees down there.


After they arrive at the forest, they spend about 4 hours cutting down trees with a machete. These trees are not huge, probably only 10 to 15 feet tall. Then they spend 4 hours walking back to the village. When they arrive home, if they have food at their home, they cook a meal from scratch for their family. They have to light a wood burning fire and cook their meal with none of the modern conveniences that we use. Then they go to bed. Their bed usually consists of a couple of pieces of card board laid on the floor.
The next day that do that same routine again. And then a third day they do it again. On the fourth day they go to the forest and they take the trees they have cut down and they cut them into smaller pieces. And then on the fifth day they take those cut up trees and cover them with grass and then cover them with mud. They make small holes in the mud and light the grass inside. This burns very slowly and gets really hot and it smokes the wood and turns it into charcoal.

 Then they have to go back a couple of days later and uncover the charcoal and put it in bags for selling. After bagging they typically hire a motorcycle to go to the forest and pick up their charcoal and carry it to town. The motorcycle drivers makes almost as much hauling the charcoal to town as the ladies do making it.

When all is said and done, for a weeks worth of back breaking work they make about $12.
One day when I was out in my yard at my house I heard some ladies making a big commotion. Excitedly telling some story. Later when the pastors wife came to see me I asked her what was going on. She began to tell me that she and some of the other ladies had been to the forest to make charcoal and they had gotten caught by the forest ranger. They had chased them with AK-47’s. One lady had broken her toe running away, another dropped her machete. A big loss to her livelihood.
The next day the pastor’s wife came to greet me, as she often does, and at the end of our conversation she said she was going to go check on her charcoal. I look at her in a shocked kind of way and I said “WAIT a minute. Wasn’t it just yesterday that they were chasing you with AK-47s and you are going back today?” She responded “Yes, what choice do I have?”
I have pondered those words,”what choice do I have?”, so many times since that day. God has put it in my heart to give them other choices. And thus began the beading project. We now have 143 women participating. God is making a way for them to have a better life. It is my dream that one day they will never have to make charcoal again. 
Sewing Beads and Seeds
Sewing beads to give a better tomorrow to our children.
Sewing seeds of the gospel to give a better eternity to our people.”

– Leah Fleming, 1962-2023

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