Profile: Evalyn Wakhusama: Breaking Poverty’s Curse

Evalyn Wakhusama ’01 M.Div., ’02 S.T.M., founder of Women’s Initiative in Knowledge & Survival (WIKS), based in Kenya.

Our work:

“The rich experience at YDs confirmed in me the dream to return home and do something meaningful for the impoverished society I grew up in. WIKs runs seminars to empower targeted groups and identifies needy intelligent girls for sponsorship in education. The highlight of our efforts is the Nambale Magnet School (NMS), now in its second year. Most of the children are orphaned through HIV/AIDS and do not have extended family to support them. We also target parents and guardians, addressing hygiene and nutrition. A long-range objective is to empower guardians in some skill for their livelihoods.”

Winning the fight:

“I have hope that the global village seems to be winning the struggle against poverty. Whatever happens in one corner gets broadcasted all over the world. Thanks be to our communication systems: the poor are known, and the world can do something about them. I believe that the gravest mistake in history would be failure to restore hope to the hopeless when given the opportunity. There is increased pressure on impoverished nations to enact policies that address poverty. By creating wealth, sharing in the world’s resources and strengthening accountability, we can win the war against poverty.”

Lethargy, frustration:

“Yet there is concern that the world is not giving sufficient attention to poverty issues. A number of reasons could account for this lethargy – perhaps donor fatigue, or frustration that resources have not been fully accounted for, leaving the masses desperate. Change may be slow to detect overnight, but gradually this enormous foe will be diminished.”

Breaking the cycle:

“There are misconceptions, such as: the poor are lazy and hence responsible for their situation, and poverty is a permanent thing and therefore nothing need be done to change it. Poverty is indeed a very dehumanizing condition. It is often caused by a diverse set of power relationships that deny life skills, assets, and resources. Lack of information, lack of exposure, and ignorance make it difficult to break the cycle of poverty. It requires an understanding of these complex interactions to confront it. But poverty is relative; it can change hands. The saying that there is not a king who has not had a destitute person in his lineage and not a poor man who has not had a king in his line may be correct. The curse of poverty can be broken; nothing is permanent. God is on the side of the poor. Let the world join God.”