Restoration of the Forgotten

MAF Assists Missionaries in Helping the Turkana People of Lokichoggio in Northern Kenya in an Ever-Expanding Ministry of Schools, Evangelism, Community Development, and Food Distribution.

After serving MAF on and off in Chad, Kenya and Sudan since the eighties – KeA as a pilot and Birgitta with bookkeeping and flight following – KeA was sent to MAF’s base in Lokichoggio, northern Kenya, to fly into Sudan for three months in 2008. Birgitta took leave from her work as a teacher in Sweden and went along with her husband.

Birgitta Adopts a Vision

One day Birgitta saw a group of about school 60 children under a tree. While Birgitta watched the drunken teacher, Symprose showed up. This woman told Birgitta that she had started the school, because she had realized that the community could wait forever for the government to build a school. The Turkana people had been forgotten.

“Symprose took me to an open field nearby to show me her dream,” Birgitta recalls. “Pointing to the field she told me that here she would like to build a school, but that there was no money to do it. I acted on an impulse when I told Symprose and the other people who had followed us to raise their hands to God. With tears running down my cheeks I prayed to God to help us with this dream – to build a school for the children. As soon as KeA came home after a long day of flying I took hold of him and said: We have to build a school here!”

Swedish School Kids Adopt the Vision

KeA was taken by surprise, of course, but soon adopted the vision completely. However, when the three months of flying for MAF were up the couple had to go back to Sweden. Birgitta resumed her teaching at the Hannah School in Örebro, Sweden and just couldn’t keep her vision to herself. Soon everyone was involved and wanted to help. Her pupils gave Birgitta some of their pocket money, the parents got involved in raising funds, and the headmaster sent Birgitta and two other teachers out to Lokichoggio to see what could be done to help.

A committee was formed with the purpose of getting a school started. It would be the Hannah Emuriakin School – the Hannah School for the Forgotten.

God had given the Arnlund couple a new calling. They resigned from their jobs in Sweden and returned to Lokichoggio in September 2009 when KeA became MAF’s base manager there.

Hannah Emuriakin School

That same year the field that Symprose had shown Birgitta was allocated to the school. They broke ground on Nov 2009, 160 children were enrolled, and their first teacher Lucy started teaching under the tree, until the first building, a preschool, was erected in May 2010. Now that Birgitta and KeA have been involved with the school for almost nine years, Lucy is still a teacher in preschool.

Since 2010 a preschool building, 3 buildings for Primary 1-8 and administration, the Birgitta Hall and a kitchen have been added to the school. Out of 600 students enrolled in the school 24 girls and 33 boys have been using a couple of classrooms as dormitories, but in 2018 two new dormitory buildings will be added to the list. The new buildings have two rooms for 25 children each plus a separate room for a dorm parent.

LEDO – Lokichoggio Emuriakin (forgotten) Development Organization

Requests for flights from Loki to South Sudan gradually decreased, because of organizations moving their bases into Juba and the opening of a MAF programme in South Sudan in 2014. MAF’s base in Lokichoggio closed down in 2015, and KeA’s contract with MAF came to an end. KeA and Birgitta are now fully concentrating on the development of the Turkana community.

In 2018 the first students from under the tree will graduate from primary school, and LEDO will be supporting 23 students in primary and secondary school, and 8 college students. Their school fees are paid, they get money for transport, pocket money, and other requirements, books and such. Moreover, the organization offers E-learning classes at the school, it distributes food packages to the poor, it builds latrines and school desks, and it also supplies the community with fresh water.

The food package budget allows 95 children once a week to receive one fruit, 1 kg rice or maize, brown beans, mung beans, two eggs, 3 dl oil, 1 soap, 3 dl detergent. The two local women (one of them is Symprose who is also called mama LEDO) in charge of this project carefully select the children, they buy all of the items and store them in a little house where the children arrive with bags and containers at a certain time of the week.

LEDO has funded and set up 200 latrines all over the town and its surroundings. This initiative was taken when KeA noticed that the small communities in the village were literally minefields of faeces, because people didn’t use toilets. He then designed a very simple latrine, basically of metal sheets.

500 m from the school LEDO has drilled a very deep hole. Water is pumped up and led through pipes to three 5,000 liters tanks on a tower at the school. The local Turkanas come to the fence surrounding the borehole and pay a little to fill their containers with water from a tap.

KeA has also designed a school desk made entirely out of metal rods and sheets. Literally indestructible and termite proof. The school has these desks, of course, but KeA’s plan is to sell the desks to other schools making them a potential source of extra income, especially if they are manufactured industrially.

ANA Women’s Group

Birgitta has a heart for the Turkana women. She wants to see them grow spiritually, to help and bless their community and to work and earn money to provide for their families. She started ANA – Anamorikin Ngaber Anatenoyek (The Strong Women’s Group) – and taught women from different church groups jewelry work and the basics of how to run a business.

A bakery opened in 2010, and then a restaurant. The latter closed after five years, but then the women opened a shop on the main street and sold bread from the bakery, jewellery, Christian literature, Bibles and song books, cloth, pens and such. Unfortunately, this also had to close down after two years.

Today only the jewellery making and the bakery is left. The jewellery is mainly sold when Birgitta goes on leave in Sweden. The bakery is doing very well and bakes the yummiest breads, scones, cakes, cinnamon rolls and more.

Every Monday morning the jewellery shop is used for an ANA’s weekly Bible study and prayers.

Village Fellowship

Every Tuesday and Friday afternoon around 100 women and children gather for Bible and worship meetings called Village Fellowship in a small compound of houses where they sing and dance and listen to some teaching from the Bible, either by Birgitta or a young evangelist from the Bible School in town.

MAF in our Hearts!

KeA expresses his gratitude towards MAF as being a vital part of it all in this way:

“Having served with this fine organization for many years and now being served by the same, as we continue our ministry amongst some of the most marginalized people in Kenya, is not just a tremendous privilege. It’s a necessity in order to sustain and secure a long-term development of this region in Turkana in the north-western corner of Kenya!”

No doubt that this community is no longer Emuriakin – forgotten. God has restored many things through the willingness of KeA and Birgitta Arnlund.

Story and Photos by Thorkild Jørgensen