Jimbo is a small fishing village of about 200 inhabitants, mostly Muslim, along the Indian Ocean in southern Kenya.
In 2004, Jimbo was hit by a devastating tsunami in which many families lost their homes and livelihoods.
Pwani Christian Community Services, a partner of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), responded. Using training received from CRWRC, Pwani started work in Jimbo using a process that allowed residents to identify the needs they wanted to address.
“This process was not without challenges,” recalls CRWRC staff member Stephan Lutz. “There was no small amount of suspicion and resistance by some community members to allowing a church-based organization to work in Jimbo.”
Jimbo’s residents were willing to accept money, but did not want to build a relationship or create long-term community-development plans. But Pwani CCS hung in there.
“I must confess that I had very little hope for Jimbo and had given up on any significant progress, but the Pwani CCS staff told me that things were going well,” says Lutz. “They held frequent meetings with the community members and had created an environment of safe and open discussions, trying to build trust.”
In the end, their patience paid off. Working with Pwani, the residents built a fish market and a protective seawall. They planted thousands of mangrove trees, rehabilitated a road leading to the village, and received training in beekeeping and business skills. They are now willing to work with Pwani CCS to further develop their community.
“I myself gave up hope on Jimbo,” Lutz confessed, “but I have realized that when things seem impossible for us, they are always possible for God. I can’t wait to further be surprised by what happens next in that community.”