Missions of hope have been a long-term mission partner of CCV. I highly encourage you to listen to episode 13, where the founders of missions of hope, Mary and Wallace Kamau of Missions of Hope, which call MOHI for short, were interviewed in a podcast here at let's go 360. This episode I have chosen To call, After Missions of Hope. Today we will talk with Natasha Feagins, the Director of Sponsorship and Advancement for MOHI.
Today we will explore what happens to children who have completed school and enter the world as independent young men and women.
Natasha oversees the Sponsorship program in the US. Her team manages the sponsorship of 25,000+ students and works closely with all their sponsors.
Natasha is also responsible for creating and cultivating relationships with partnering organizations, corporations, and foundations to further MOHI's mission and benefit the communities they serve.
In full transparency, I have known Natasha and her family for 20 years now, and I have to say I think she is one of the hardest-working people I know. She has such a massive heart for underprivileged children living in some of the worst conditions in the world. She has worked with some fantastic non-profits, providing scholarships to graduating students, working with local children's shelters, and fundraising for local child abuse rescue organizations.
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Let’s Go 360: https://letsgo360.org
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Larrie: [00:00:35] Welcome to another episode of Let's Go Through 60. You know, today is a special day because we have with us in our offices today, Natasha Feagins, and she works with Missions of Hope. Missions of Hope has been a long-term mission partner of CCV, and I would highly encourage you to listen to episode 13, where the founders of Missions of Hope, Mary and Wallace Kamau, who started Missions of Hope. We call them MOHI for short. We interviewed them in a podcast here at Let's Go 360. This episode I have chosen to call, “After Missions of Hope” because today we're going to talk with Natasha. She's the director of sponsorship and advancement at MOHI. And today we are going to explore what happens to children who have completed school and enter the world as independent young men and women. But first, let me introduce our guest. Natasha. She oversees the sponsorship program in the US. Her team manages and sponsors the sponsorship program of over 25,000 students, and she works directly with the sponsors. Natasha is responsible for creating and cultivating relationships with partnering organizations, corporations, foundations to further MOHI’s mission and benefit the communities where they serve. Her passion has always been with the local church and the underprivileged populations. She left corporate America over a couple of years ago to join MOHI to fulfill a lifelong dream. And in full transparency, I have known Natasha and her family now for WOW for over 20 years. And I have to say, I think she is one of the hardest working people I know. She has such a huge heart for these underprivileged children living in some of the worst conditions in the world and has worked with some amazing nonprofits over the years, providing scholarships to graduating students, working with local children's shelters, fundraising for local child abuse rescue organizations. Natasha, welcome to the show.
Natasha : [00:02:46] Thank you, Larrie.
Larrie: [00:02:47] You know, as we start every episode with our guests, we always ask them to tell us their story. So how did you get connected with MOHI?
Natasha : [00:02:57] Well, I actually probably have you to thank for that. A little over ten years ago, my brother-in-law went on a medical mission with me to MOHI, and he came home and he said, This is an amazing organization. If you want to be a part of something that's making a difference. Look at MOHI. And that was our introduction. And the next year my son was 16 and he went on his first mission trip to Kenya. And from that point we just loved the program. We realized what they were doing for the Kingdom and what they were doing to make a difference. And so I was part of it as just a sponsor, as a supporter of an organization. And that's how I learned about it.
Larrie: [00:03:44] Okay. So we do need to give our listeners a little bit of context because some of them have not listened to episode 13. So tell us a little bit about MOHI.
Natasha : [00:03:52] Sure. MOHI Missions of Hope International. It is a holistic program in Kenya and hopefully beyond. We have 32 schools right now and we operate in the most underprivileged communities in the world. It started in the slums of Nairobi, and now we are we've expanded to the rural villages. But it's not just schools. The holistic ministry has four pillars. It's education. It is the biggest part of it is the redeeming part where we teach them about God's love. So every time we plant a school, we plant a church along with it. If there's a local church, we actually partner with them and we have social workers that work, work with each student and get to know their families and make sure that they're involved in a local church. And then, of course, there's the basics of the child sponsorship. They get the two meals a day, the education, the school supplies, the uniform. All of those things as well.
Larrie: [00:04:56] And so the location that that MOHI started in was in the Mathare Valley slum, which is one of the worst slums in the world. And now it's gotten a lot better over the years, thanks to organizations like Missions of Hope, who is involved in community development and helping the people that live there find jobs. And over the years, it's gotten much, much better. But still, there is this massive amount of poverty that Missions of Hope, MOHI works with, for these kids. Now, they've since expanded outside of Nairobi into other areas within Kenya, the Turkana region, and also outside of the country in Liberia. So that's new. And they're going to be announcing opportunities there for people to get involved within Liberia.
Larrie: So I also I just strongly encourage you to listen to episode 13 that will give you a really good context about Missions of Hope. You can check out their website, which I'll be sure and include in our show notes at mohiafrica.org. And you can see video and and really what's going on there. The other place to check it out is at our website, ccv.church. We have many trips planned next year. In fact, we're in the process of planning over 12 trips to Nairobi, Missions of Hope. Well, let's start with what we're trying to accomplish today. And that is what happens after a child completes education. They've just completed their 12th grade. They're now seniors that's graduated their 17 year old kids who are ready to leave. And we want to talk about what happens. So what are they looking at, Natasha, as they begin to enter this workforce? What opportunities do they have and what obstacles do they face?
Natasha : [00:06:53] That is a great question, Larrie, and it's one of the most important ones. Once we complete their schooling, where do they go? Where do they go from there? Do they still have support? Is somebody still partnering with them and walking alongside them? And we do. We do that. Kenya's a little bit different in their education system. Most children who graduate high school do not get the opportunity to go immediately to university. They take a final exam and it takes months to get their results back. So we actually, for the first year after graduation, we have a program that we call next Steps in Kenyan, in Swahili, we call it Minara. And for a period of a year, those kids actually stay in our program and they complete different sessions. They do a six week course on finances where they learn to balance a checkbook, how to open a checking account and a savings account. They have a technology module where they work on computers and learn certain computer skills that they might not have gotten in high school. Spiritual development. They even do an internship at one of our schools where they work as a teacher's assistant or assistant to a social worker. And all of this time they are being poured into by a mentor who is walking through this time with them.
Natasha : [00:08:12] And when it's time to apply for college, they can help them with their college applications. Now, how do they get to college? Where did they get those funds? MOHI actually has a higher education fund where they do student loans. It is a loan that they do have to pay back. It is almost no interest. However, they don't have to start paying this back until they graduate college and get a job. And then that money, when they pay it back, goes right back into that fund so we can provide a loan for that next student who graduates. So they do have the opportunity to go to college. And then they are also other opportunities. We have the skills program they might want to participate in one of our schools programs like the plumbing or the welding or the sewing or catering school, and we walk them through that. There's also, we have currently at MOHI, we have over 100 MOHI alum that now work for Missions of Hope in various positions. So the opportunities, Kenya is full of opportunities. Nairobi is the financial capital of Africa. So they get this education and they can go on to do amazing things and give back to the communities where they came from.
Larrie: [00:09:30] Do you have any examples of a of a kid that's gone through and andsucceeded at getting out of poverty and now is contributing back to the society?
Natasha : [00:09:40] I do. I do. One of my favorites is a young woman named Jacenta. And as you know, we started 22 years ago and we started with 50 kids. Jacenta was one of those first 50 kids and she was four years old. Being raised by a single mother, couldn't afford school fees, would never have had the opportunity to go to school. She starts at four years old. Unfortunately, Jacenta was orphaned at 17 and she stated at that point, if if she hadn't been with MOHI, if she didn't have the support of the school at that point, she would have had to drop out and been lost. But she finished. She graduated and her dream was to become an attorney, to be a lawyer. And she said when she was a child growing up, children in the in the Mathare Valley, there was no voice if a child was raped or killed. There was nobody that stood up for that child. And she said her dream was to be the voice for that child. And this summer, she graduated law school. She passed the bar. She has her white wig, and she is now living that life that she dreamed about giving back to the people of Mathare and being a voice for those kids.
Larrie: [00:10:58] Well, that's amazing. I know I've got a personal one that I have to share. And that's with the child that we my wife and I started sponsoring when she was six years old. It was on a trip that we went there and met her and decided to sponsor her. She's now 20 years old and has gone through the education system and now is working at MOHI as a counselor and pouring back into the to the lives of children that's going through the program now. My wife and I are so, so proud of her. Now, you mentioned earlier that that this is a holistic approach, and I think it's important for our audience to understand our listeners, to understand what that really means. You know, poverty, when we think of it in the Western context, always seems to focus on people that don't have much. In other words, they're poor, they're living in conditions that are substandard, they don't have a lot of income, and that's poverty. And of course, that is part of poverty. But poverty itself is much bigger than that, because to be in poverty means that there are relationships in your life that are broken and depending on where you live and the context by where you live, that could be different. So let's suppose that I told you that. The people in the West. Many people here in, let's say America is living in worse poverty than those living in the worst slums in Nairobi.
Larrie: [00:12:44] And here's what I mean. Poverty is broken relationships, and there are four key relationships that that we have to have to be out of poverty. And if we're deficient in any one of these relationships, we are living in poverty. Now, the first one is the one that people in the West usually associate with, and that is our creation, our surroundings, our society. Which has to do with our material things. How much money do we make? What kind of home do we live in, what part of the city we live in? Those are all things of creation. That if we don't have those, we're in poverty. But there are three other forms of poverty that many in the US suffer from. The next type of poverty is that relationship that we have with ourselves. And what I mean by that is if we are not healthy with ourself, if we don't have a healthy self-image or we have something that's preventing us from living mentally healthy, then we're in poverty. And so we resort to things like taking drugs or prescription drugs or illegal drugs, things that would help us, and therefore we're a slave to this. The other is our relationship with others. And we have a problem in the West with that, and that is that we tend to fight each other. We tend to divorce each other. We tend to hate each other.
Larrie: [00:14:21] We tend to argue with each other. Those are all human things, but they are also signs of an unhealthy form of a person. And so and then the last one, which is obviously our most important relationship, and that's the relationship we have with God. So our relationship with our Holy Father is so critical to our total health and to keep us out of poverty that if we're deficient in any one of these things, we're in poverty. Now, A lot of the folks in in Kenya who are living in the slums, they yeah, they have a problem with creation and they're living, but they are very healthy in their relationship to God and their relationship with others and even with themselves. You will not find more happier children in the world than those living in poverty in the schools at Missions of Hope. How do I know this? I've been there. I've been in classrooms where the smiles of these children are much, much greater than the smiles that I see in some of our own schools here. So there is this holistic approach to health, and that's what Missions of Hope delivers. There is a strong spiritual transformation that takes place because MOHI’s commitment to biblically based training and role modeling. And starting and connecting these kids to the local church. That is so healthy. Can you talk a little bit about that, Natasha?
Natasha : [00:15:51] I would love to. Yes. And you're exactly right. It's amazing to go into a place like the slum and experience, what we would call disgusting conditions. And they live in these shanties. And it is they don't have enough food for that day. They don't they're just the financial poverty is just so devastating. But then you go in to visit one of those homes and the happiness and the joy in that home in that shanty is overwhelming. And it is it's beautiful to witness. And it's my daughter actually calls, when I get to go on a trip and I'm there, she calls it my happy place. And to think that a slum in Africa would ever be a happy place to anybody. But you get to experience their relationships with each other and their dependency on God. MOHI obviously has a lot to do with that. But it's also that church which MOHI works to build, but having them connected to that church and getting them in with mentors and to experience God's love and provide them hope. We talk about hope a lot. Without hope, there's nothing. And they have hope. They have hope through Jesus. And they're secure in that and they know that. And because of those relationships being so, so concrete and so secure, they pass that hope on to others. The special needs program from CCV is a great example. When they go and they work with the families and they said, you know, they are going to work with these kids with special needs and their parents and teaching them, teaching them different skill sets to help raise their special needs children. And they go the next time. And there's all these other parents and they know these skills because the other parents have already taught them and they depend on each other. They depend on the Lord. And it is it's beautiful to see and it's. It's the only way that a true difference will ever be made.
Larrie: [00:18:08] That’s so, so good. So MOHI’s programs. There are all this integration that addresses the brokenness of every area of their life that brings hope in Christ. Every MOHI program seeks to talk about those four pillars that you mentioned earlier to educate, to empower, to restore and redeem. So the empowerment part. Tell us a little bit about how a family might be empowered to survive and actually prosper in the slums.
Natasha : [00:18:45] So I'm going to tell you that story. And I'm going to include the original topic of a child after MOHI. So one of our students, his name is Francis. He came to us, we were his seventh school. He had ran away in class five from home because his mother was an alcoholic and very abusive. So his mother came to learn about Missions of Hope Skills Center. She was unemployed, single mother, had no hope. And so she turned to alcohol. She got to know MOHI. She joined our sewing program. She learned a skill. She came to know Jesus. She stopped drinking. Francis came home and he started the MOHI school as his seventh school. In Class seven, Francis completed all the way up through high school. His mother supported him and his siblings. They go to church together as a family. They all finished school, and when Francis finished high school, he became a mentor at the camp with Jane. After being a mentor for a year, he now works as a child sponsorship officer out of our main office Pangani, one of our schools in the slums. So here's a child who was living on the streets in class five stealing, working, living off trash to eat, did not have a mother who cared for him or showed him love, and she went to MOHI in the skills program. We empowered her to earn a living, to support herself, to support her children, and showed her the love of Christ. And her life is just a complete turnaround from what it was back then and now. Francis is an amazing man working with Missions of Hope and he is recruiting kids just like him.
Larrie: [00:20:48] That's so good. Now, there's other programs that I know MOHI drives and provides leadership. One of them I know is helping families start a business in in the way of micro-financing. Right? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Natasha : [00:21:04] Yes. Yes. So we do we have microfinance loans. And I want to say over 8000 loans have been given and repaid. So we have another woman named Jean who actually participated in the sewing program as well. She finished it and she obtained a loan for a small business. And when we say a small business, it is when they graduate from the program. She got a sewing machine. Now there's no electricity where they live, so of course it's foot pedaled. But she was able to obtain a microfinance loan and go out and purchase some supplies and she opened a tailoring business. So now she takes clothes that have been donated from different areas and and tailors them and mends them and resells them. And she is able to support her family by doing that. And it doesn't have to be there's it doesn't have to be related to the skills center. It can be a loan for another business idea that they have, but they obtain this loan. And it's not just a give me your application. We're going to give you the money. They of course, because this is all about partnering with them and walking beside them and encouraging them. So they need a business plan and they have somebody who works with them to ensure that their business succeeds. And when they're ready and that loan is paid back, we just do it all over again to the next customer.
Larrie: [00:22:35] Wow. So I'm curious, do you know the loan payback rate?
Natasha : [00:22:42] I do not. And I apologize.
Larrie: [00:22:44] No worries. But I think I might be wrong.
Natasha : [00:22:47] But I do.
Larrie: [00:22:48] Okay.
Natasha : [00:22:49] I'm sorry. So it was 95% prior to COVID. It dropped a little. And now we're back up to just shy of 100%.
Larrie: [00:22:59] That's amazing. I am quite sure. I don't know what the statistic is in the West and in the US, but I don't think it's 95 to 100% payback. So that all goes back to instilling the values and leadership that's provided at MOHI. Well, you know, we're getting close to the end here. Natasha, and I thank you so much for being here. We will certainly include links in our show notes where our listeners can find out more about MOHI. I do want to put a plug in for our mission trips. And you know, before we close, Natasha, help us with what a typical trip looks like.
Natasha : [00:23:45] Okay. So a major part of our program is trips. So MOHI invites teams to come and to serve on the ground and to work alongside our Kenyan staff and to serve in these communities. So. A trip. You're going to be partnered with some amazing people. You're going to be on this team that you might know, some people you might not, but at the end you're going to have some amazing friendships. And the leadership team at CCV is amazing. They will have you perfectly prepared and you're going to take a really long plane ride and you're going to arrive in Kenya and you are going to work side by side. Depending on what the trip is, it could be a medical trip, it could be a VBS. But you are going to come in and you're going to do a tour of the community and you're going to see where these people live and how they live. You are going to meet families and then you are going to get to serve in one of our schools and one of our communities. And you are going to work alongside our Kenyan staff and you are going to see you're going to experience their culture through their eyes and you are going to provide a service, whatever that is. Maybe it's teaching VBS and you're going to get to work with these children and see the joy and experience their joy. And it is it's by far one of the most life changing events that I think happen in a Christian's life. Is participating in a mission.
Larrie: [00:25:26] Well, I've been on I've been to Kenya, I've been to Mathare, I've been to MOHI many times. And I can tell you there is a transformation that takes place on every one that goes. Now, next year and I talked briefly about this in a previous episode, next year, we're getting ready to launch eight new trips to Missions of Hope that are all focused on the medical professionals. And so if you're a medical professional listening to this podcast, check out our website because we are launching a massive mobilization effort next year initiative for our people with CCV to actually go and practice and serve in Missions of hope in Mathare Valley. You don't want to miss that if you're a medical professional. Well, thank you again, Natasha, for being here. How can we pray for MOHI?
Natasha : [00:26:17] Right now, I would ask for prayers. Like I said, we have 32 schools. And so every year we get a new class of children in and we need new sponsors. So we're just going to pray for all of our unsponsored children that they find a sponsor, that they have somebody to connect with that supports them. And for this for this podcast, I'm also going to ask for prayers for our graduating seniors. Last year, we had 763 students who graduated high school, and those are now those students are now finishing that Next Steps program. If they did participate in that and they're going out to the world and we're just praying that the life lessons and the experiences that they had in MOHI will shape the rest of their life and they'll go out and change their communities. So we're going to pray for those seniors and our unsponsored children.
Larrie: [00:27:16] Amazing. Amazing. Well, thanks again for coming in. I want to point out that we're going to have you back. And on our next episode, we're going to talk about the church planting part of missions of Hope. Every school has a church that a child and a family can attend. And that's part of the strategy and that deserves an entire episode by itself as lives are being changed at MOHI Thanks, Tasha.
Natasha : [00:27:44] Thank you.