Rev. Paul Matheri, Dean of Superintendents of the United Methodist Church, Kenya, has been working with orphans and vulnerable children, many of them street children, for all of his adult life. He is passionate about helping these young people build a bright future. Paul did not have a sustainable program to make that happen until, through a chance meeting, God opened a door.
In April 2004, in an over-crowded sandwich shop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Paul met Bob Bushong, Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church Winter Park (Florida, USA). Both were attending a United Methodist Church conference and ended up eating lunch at the same table. They enjoyed their serendipitous meeting and committed to staying in touch. Over the next few years, as the relationship between their home churches in Naivasha, Kenya, and Winter Park, Florida, grew stronger, the concept for Panua was shaped.
In 2010, after much prayer, work and deliberation, Panua Partners in Hope was founded. Naivasha United Methodist Churches, under Paul’s leadership, and First United Methodist Church Winter Park, inspired by God’s love for the children of Naivasha, committed to transforming the lives of these orphaned and vulnerable children of Naivasha. In September 2010 the three-year pilot program began with 90 households, representing 470 orphans, vulnerable children and youth. The September 2013 graduates of Panua affirm our belief that through the love of Jesus Christ, lives can be transformed. 2014 saw the launch of our second 3-year program cycle with 96 new households. In 2015, we added an additional 70 youth, bringing the total number of households served to 166, and the number of individuals benefitting to over 700.
Stories of Transformation
Boniface & Simon. A Story of Friendship.
Before joining Panua, Boniface and Simon were each struggling day-laborers, working hard just to earn a living. Neither was able to afford tuition for high-school or vocational training. When they joined Panua, they discovered they shared the dream of becoming qualified mechanics.
With support from Panua, they began raising chickens to provide immediate food and income for their families. Panua helped them both enroll in mechanic school. They worked hard in school and became fast friends during their training, providing comfort and support to one another.
Boniface and Simon successfully completed their mechanic training. Both are now employed and earning a living doing what they love – repairing cars – while they enjoy the support of a great friendship, thanks to Panua.