Samburu Friends Mission
Samburu Friends Mission is in a period of transition. Some very exciting things are happening, including the beginning of construction on a new meetinghouse in Lotulelei. And some challenging things have befallen the mission, like the ransacking of the Losuk station by bandits, resulting in the evacuation of the mission personnel, abandonment of the station and the need to start all over again with new buildings and projects in a new location.
The Samburu people are a semi-nomadic pastoralist tribe living in the plains and arid highlands north of Mt. Kenya, in an area prone to drought, instability, violence and cattle rustling. Friends’ mission work began among the Samburu in 1995 by Isaiah Bikokwa as an extension of the Turkana mission. At Lotulelei, the Friends compound includes a health center, nursery school, primary school and bore hole which provides water free of charge to the surrounding community. The mud and wattle church on the compound was destroyed in a storm a few years ago, and construction is now underway to replace it with a large cement block building, thanks to funds raised primarily in North Carolina.
The Losuk station, now abandoned, housed a beautiful health center built in part by a work team from North Carolina in 2002. Money has been raised to provide water at Losuk, but this project is now on hold until the mission can obtain a new plot of land and begin rebuilding their work.
As the Samburu mission has grown, it has become very clear that it needs to be affiliated with a yearly meeting, so that it can accept people into membership in the Religious Society of Friends. FUM is in the process of negotiating with East Africa Yearly Meeting North to serve as the “host” yearly meeting for Samburu Quakers. This should allow a much greater degree of interaction between our Samburu believers and the wider Friends community.
The Board of Samburu Friends Mission has just completed a five-year Strategic Plan. The key activity areas of the plan are: evangelism and spiritual growth; social, health and educational programs; and peace and food security. A “town” church will be planted in Maralal, the area administrative headquarters. They aim to increase the church membership from 250 today, to 1,000 by 2013, growing from four pastors to 12 over that period. As they are able to re-launch the health care services in the Losuk area, they hope to reach a much larger number of patients with heath and healing ministries. Food insecurity and regional violence are the main social issues which the mission addresses.
FUM currently supports Samburu Friends Mission with $2,000 per month, as long as donor funds are available. This small grant manages to pay all the mission staff salaries (11 people) and cover all the operating costs for the projects. If more could be sent each month, the mission could realize its plan for growth — both spiritual growth and numerical growth. Special projects such as the Lotulelei meetinghouse and the Losuk bore hole enable the mission to make important capital investments. In the next few years, it will be necessary to replace the mission pick-up truck. The faithful support of Friends is so important to the success of this work!