Kawangware is one of the fastest growing and poorest slums in Nairobi, Kenya with a population of over 300,000. The majority of residents are trying to survive on less than $1 per day, trapped in what the United Nations calls “extreme poverty.” Residents are plagued by a lack of clean water and sanitation, rampant crime, and high unemployment. The spread of HIV/AIDS in Kawangware is believed to be between 30-45 percent. Many children are abandoned due to this deadly disease and some are forced to live on the streets of the slum, never receiving proper hygiene and care.
These realities paint a bleak picture. And when Micah McElveen, a recent college graduate with a big dream, stepped into this overwhelming physical and spiritual poverty in Kawangware, he decided to do something about it.
With a tremendous appetite for soccer in this community, Micah recognized that sports could be used as a platform to share the Gospel and alleviate poverty. Out of this realization, Vapor’s first center was birthed in 2006. Thousands of children and youth in Kawangware participate Vapor’s free sports league on a weekly basis. When they come to the center they are able to play their favorite sport while engaging in life-changing relationships with coaches who not only love soccer, but more importantly love Jesus.
The Kawangware center is home to the “Ruth Well,” Vapor’s first master water project. The well is named in honor and in memory of Micah’s grandmother, Ruth Lyle, a woman who had a heart to see physical and spiritual thirst quenched. Through this well individuals have access to safe drinking water, while also learning about the abundance of the Living Water found in Jesus Christ.
The Ruth Well also operates as one of several micro businesses, with a commercial water distribution site located at the well. Along with field-leasing services, a gym facility and an aerobics program, these sustainability projects provide jobs in this community, which helps to break the vicious cycle of poverty. Each project also brings in sustainability revenue that helps to offset operating costs at the center.
Vapor Ministries seeks to alleviate poverty and multiply disciples in conjunction with local faith partners. Since the beginning, the Kawangware center has partnered with World Hope and Hope Church. This mutually beneficial partnership strengthens the ongoing work at the center, while supporting the efforts of this local body to make a difference in the community.
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