About Us

How it all started, We trace back in time.
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1969 was an eventful year. On July 20th, an American Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon and he would utter the following immortal words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. In Africa, this was a period of heightened political and liberation activity as well as instability. Closer home, it saw the banning of the opposition party, Kenya Peoples Union and the detention of its leaders. It also witnessed the Luo community lose two of its most prominent leaders within a span of 5 months (Argwings Kodhek and Tom Mboya). The unfortunate events occasioned untold pain and suffering on women at the loss of sons and husbands; women forced to become widows left to deal with vacuums that would never be filled in a lifetime.

Thomas Agutu, Our Patron

1969 was an eventful year. On July 20th, an American Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon and he would utter the following immortal words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. In Africa, this was a period of heightened political and liberation activity as well as instability. Closer home, it saw the banning of the opposition party, Kenya Peoples Union and the detention of its leaders. It also witnessed the Luo community lose two of its most prominent leaders within a span of 5 months (Argwings Kodhek and Tom Mboya). The unfortunate events occasioned untold pain and suffering on women at the loss of sons and husbands; women forced to become widows left to deal with vacuums that would never be filled in a lifetime.

It is in the same year that I, Thomas Agutu was born in this small village of Obaga, Rarieda District, of Siaya County-Kenya.  I grew up in a Christian Family as a village boy, attended primary and secondary school in this village until i finished High School from where, i would join College in the City of Nairobi and later graduated with a Diploma in Business Administration majoring in Entrepreneurship. Given my interest in missions and community service, I pursued and graduated with a Diploma in Theology from Word of Faith Bible Institute in Nairobi.

I grew up in a warm family of 13. For a better part of his working life, my father served in public service under the ministry of public works. As a result, all my siblings lived with my father across different work stations/towns. I on the hand, stuck by my mother in the village. I remember fondly the joys of childhood communal activities such as herding animals, collecting firewood, fetching water from the lake and the challenges that came with these responsibilities. My mother, Mama Yunia Nyogaya, was a hard working peasant farmer, disciplinarian, God fearing, a teacher liked by many in the village. A devout Christian, she tirelessly worked for St. Paul church, Rakombe, a church community she unwaveringly served until she breathed her last in January of 2017. In her active life and in my watch, Nyogaya was a great philanthropist who worked with women to economically empower them. She organized many women groups such as Kamgua women group, Kangenge women group, Siaya farmers Association etc., encouraging and teaching the members how to be economically independent, life skills and trusting in God when things are not working in their families. Nyogaya become a local agriculture extension officer distributing seeds to women farmers and educating them on various farming methods. At that time cotton did very very well here as a cash crop. Growing up under her tutelage, she impressed on me the values of hardwork, the fear of God and the knowledge of service to God through service to others.

It’s bestowed on parenthood to guide a child on the path they ought to go. It’s also true that children do not, what their parents tell them to do; they do exactly what they see their parents doing. And so I believe, by now, it’s not difficult for you to tell where my passion for community service originated.

The Bigger Picture

A vibrant society is a proportionate mix of men and women actively playing a role in socio-cultural and economic development. The conversation around women’s role in development process has been mainstreaming since the 1970s. In fact, the period between 1975-85 was dubbed “Decade of Women”. This was in the context of U.N.s’ International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico City in 1975. The focus was light of equality, development and peace. According to country meter’s world population statistics, the female population makes 49.6% of the total world population. It would be an injustice to humanity to not involve almost half of any society’s population in realizing a society’s socio-cultural and economic development.

In Kenya, there have been efforts to make women active partners in the development process by careful design mainstream programs. As in every nation - the development process is shaped by the realities of financial and natural resources, administrative capacity, and tradition and so far, where the inclusivity has found proper roots, the fruits have been seen agricultural extension, primary education, and basic health care including family planning. However, there cultures with negative in which the effects of negative cultural etched on patriarchy writ large and the battle for equality and participation goes on.

The Plight of Widows of Obaga (The Jewels of Obaga)

A case in point is, in Kenya when a man dies, the widow loses everything; not only the man she loves but her home, possessions, dignity, her freedom and place in society. The death of many people as a result of HIV/AIDS has also left behind a shocking large number of orphaned children.

In most Kenyan cultures such as the ‘LUO culture’, after the death of Husbands, many widows are abused physically, psychologically, and sexually and this has led to the suffering of many orphans. In our (Luo) culture it is considered okay for a widow to be cursed out of society. In most cases they are blamed for their husband’s death. As a ritual they are forced to shave their hair and treated with disregard.

Most of them do not know what the husband owned and go through a lot of stress looking for how to recover and take custody of them. Wife inheritance is acceptable and if a widow refuses to be inherited by their in-laws, they are beaten and chased away from their homes. Brothers In-law are considered to rape the widows as a way of “cleansing them from their sins” but this is not okay, and some contact HIV/AIDS from their inheritors.

THIS IS NOT OKEY… and that is why Nyogaya Foundation is here today. Given the women’s very critical stake in socio-cultural development in our society, a woman problem is a community’s problem. And so in playing our part in rebuilding a positive and productive society, as a foundation we endeavor to support widows and orphans to rise above these negative cultural tendencies and stamp their feet the community development context- empowered to fight the discrimination, suffering and poverty in our villages.

Through the work of the Nyogaya Foundation, Things are slowly changing. With the help of partners, the foundation has helped build houses for our widows and their children to live in dignity that they deserve. An acre of land has been purchased for farming and our jewels are now earning money to support their families through farming. Health and nutrition has also improved in their children through feeding programs. The Obaga water project has been established through these widows.

Through friends and well wishers, over 15 Orphans have joined high school by this year and 4 of them have just graduated from high school ready to join University. We have just dedicated a library where children can visit and learn as a way of improving their education.

We have started Goat farming to improve children’s nutrition through goat milk. The milk will also be sold to get income that will economically empower widows. We have also introduced Feeding Programme where orphaned children go to school .It has helped of reduce opportunistic diseases that attack them due to HIV and has also increased the enrolment in the school. Every year we offer free medical camps to help in reducing number of diseases for those who can not afford within Obaga community.

Most importantly all these activities and achievements by the jewels has enabled our widows to be treated with dignity and allow them to become contributors to society rather than being seen as a Burden. We are changing perceptions and transforming our society.

We look at the next five to ten years with a lot of hope for more growth. What we have done so far is to show that it possible to realize success following this path. We have just instituted a board committee and with a growing support base, the most logical opportunity is to reasonably scale up and reach out to many more widows as we seek to reach the entire Siaya County and beyond. We are also asking ourselves why we don’t grow cotton anymore and many other questions that we will seek to answer as we walk together into a brighter future.

Finally, I would like to thank all stakeholders and partners who have not spared an opportunity to support us. We look forward to a better partnership as we walk together.

If I can paraphrase the words of Neil Armstrong “this is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. Let’s do our part.

 

EROKAMANO

THANK YOU!

MY PROFILE -THOMAS AGUTU

1969 was an eventful year. It saw the banning of the opposition party, Kenya Peoples Union and the detention of its leaders. It also witnessed the Luo community lose two of its most prominent leaders within a span of 5 months (Argwings Kodhek and Tom Mboya). These unfortunate events occasioned untold pain and suffering on women at the loss of sons and husbands; women forced to become widows left to deal with vacuums that would never be filled in a lifetime.

In the same year, in a small village of Obaga, Rarieda District, of Siaya County-Kenya; a boy was born- his name; Thomas Agutu.  He grew up in a Christian Family as a village boy. He would attend his primary and secondary school in the village until he finished his High School form where, he would join College in the City of Nairobi and later graduated with a Diploma in Business Administration majoring in Entrepreneurship.

He is Married with one wife and three children, Mercy, Ben and Lawreen.

As an Entrepreneur Thomas also runs a Mission Tour Company in Nairobi that handle ground logistics for thousands of Volunteers and Missionaries visiting Kenya every year.

As a born again Christian, he had a burden for the Kenyan Villages especially where he grew up. In 2015 Thomas joined an Evangelistic Ministry called KETO that evangelizes Kenyan Rural Villages. He is the secretary of KETO. In the year 2011, he went back to College, Word of Faith Bible Insitute -Nairobi later graduating with a Diploma in Theology to enable him be more effective in his new found Ministry of evangelizing and helping communities within Kenya.

In 2012 Thomas received an Award of Excellence, Commitment and dedication from The Turning Point Initiative-Kenya in recognition of outstanding, persistent and transformative service to humanity.

With a badge of Trust and Integrity earned over the years of service, Thomas sits in the board and Directorship of Local and International NGO’S such as Villagecare International, Rarieda  Relief International , Obaga Community Development Projects, SCISC, etc.

40 years later, as though by God’s design, Thomas Agutu is currently the Patron of Obaga Primary School, Obaga water Project, and Founder of a Widows Group –‘’The Jewels of Obaga’’, a group that actively wipes the tears and restores dignity of the widows and Orphans in many villages of Rarieda- Siaya County. In a bid to organize the several projects currently going on and with a vision to scale up the impact realized so far, all administration and coordination will be run under Nyogaya Foundation.

Thomas’ Vision is to give his all in serving God ,his family and Humanity. James 1:26-27