After a major conversion of faith, Jane Wathome has devoted her life to helping women with HIV/AIDS in Kenya.
She started by praying for them. But one day a woman said to her, “We have not eaten in three days and we cannot eat your prayers.”
For Jane, that was a turning point — and she founded Beacon of Hope.
Today, her organization provides women with HIV/AIDS with economic opportunity, access to medical care, a school for their children, and a place of safety.
Beacon of hope — Ongata Rongai, Kenya.
Jane Wathome has devoted her life to helping women with HIV/AIDS. She gives them work; she gives them hope.
Jane Wathome: In my early twenties I was a highflier. When I came to the faith, a lot of things changed, and my journey with Jesus adds a big part on what I do today.
I really felt challenged by God — compelled to do something about people who are affected by HIV and AIDS. When I came to the slums and I began to interact with the women, one particular lady — she was called Anastasia — when I finished praying for her, she was angry with me. That’s when she told me, “You’ve prayed for us, but you know, we’ve not eaten for three days, and we can’t eat your prayers.”
For me that was a turning point. I came back and asked these women, “What is it that you want done?” They all said they want access to economic opportunities, and a majority of them said they want to be trained how to weave carpets and would want access to credit. So that’s how we ended up starting Beacon of Hope. It is specifically helping these women. Not for me, but for these women.
A lot of people in the community saw what we are doing, and were desperate, and they wanted to be a part of what we were doing. In another revelation, I realized we also have to deal with the children and begin to intervene where the next generation is concerned. After we did a preschool here, we realized that the levels of vulnerability, again, in the homes of these children, were devastating, so we decided, “You know what? Let’s take a step of faith and do primary school.” In time, we decided, “Let’s have a counseling and testing center as well.” And the thing was growing.
There were some difficult moments, lonely moments, where people couldn’t understand why we’re getting into all this. And when I look back, and God has healed me, and I see what has come out of it, it really, really encourages me.
A lot of these women that we work with — they were once bedridden, and a lot of them tell the Lord, “Lord, if you allow me to have a second chance in life, I want to reach out to people and give them the same hope, the same care, that I’ve received.”