Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Spokane Catholic community helps change lives of Kenya villagers

the Inland Register

(From the January 19, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Rachel Kigano stands with some of the goods sold to benefit a village in Kenya. (IR photo courtesy of Likii Tender Hearts)

A village in Kenya which was synonymous with lethal home brewed beer, broken homes, AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, and depression has taken a turn for the better, thanks to the Spokane parish communities like St. John Vianney in Spokane Valley.

In 2007, Jane and Lucy Kigano, who manage the Likii Tender Hearts organization, introduced Likii Village to St. John Vianney. Father Rich Poole, the pastor then, directed Lucy to Judy Herda, who in turn invited Scott Cooper from Catholic Charities of Spokane to attend their first meeting.

The Kigano family has lived in Likii village for over 30 years. Likii Tender Hearts is guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Kigano family based their dream of uplifting the lives of Likii villagers on one small dry banana leaf mosaic, a form of art that is unique to the East African region, brought back from Kenya in 2006 by Chelsea Kigano. The Kigano family decided to sell or auction the mosaics and send the proceeds to their mother in Likii. She in turn opened a vocational school offering free training in dressmaking, crocheting, knitting, and embroidery to the villagers in Likii.

Since then, several of these mosaics and other Kenyan art and craft have been sold to art lovers and well-wishers in Spokane.

In 2010 programs were added to the basic training program: fine and commercial art, woodcraft, beadwork, sandal making, basic computer learning, and quilting. In addition, a women’s group under the umbrella of Likii Tender Hearts brings women between the ages of 50 years and up together, to share their talent, break bread, and empower each another, which fulfills Likii Tender Hearts intentions of eliminating depression within the community.

Last April, Lucy Kigano visited Likii and added three new projects to the ever-growing needs of Likii villagers, partnering with other organizations to help with the development of Likii Special School, offering shelter and education to children with severe disabilities.

While in a very short visit to Kenya 2009, Lucy and her mother, Rachel Kigano, stopped by the roadside to talk to a young woman. Rachel asked the young woman if she had found sufficient funds to add green vegetables to her diet, which she confirmed. Later Rachel explained to Lucy that a couple of days ago, the young woman in a very weak condition had been found lying alongside the road by good Samaritans who had taken her to the hospital. Rachel explained that most of the young and older people were quickly succumbing to death from AIDS because of lack of a healthy and balanced diet.

In 2011, Lucy requested her mother to set aside a small section of land within their farm where families of those whose lives were touched by AIDS could grow green vegetables to sustain their health as well as for those members of their families suffering from AIDS. This is now the Green4Health project.

Likii Tender Hearts intentions have supported and provided a new lease to many villagers, but the probability of reverting to the old lifestyles is a minute away. As such a microloan/gift project has been introduced to help the students in starting a business. A dressmaking business costs $100, which buys the sewing machine materials, and a knitting business costs $200, which covers the purchase of the knitting machine and yarn. So far two students have benefitted from this project through a generous donation from one of Lucy’s college mates in New York.

Likii Tender Hearts was fortunate to be included in several 2011 events in the Spokane area, where several new items were on display and available for purchase: Jubilee International Market on Nov. 11-12, St. Augustine Church on Nov. 13, Assumption Church on Nov. 20, St. Aloysius on Nov. 19-20, Spokane Community Center on Nov. 26-27, and a Kenyan dinner in the parish hall at St. John Vianney Church Dec. 3 after the 5 p.m. Mass.

It is not enough to just offer food for the belly, but also sharing a little of your talent will help the hungry find a way of getting out of their current and difficult situation.

Visit to learn more about the organization and to purchase goods online.

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