CEO Brad Brown tells his story:
Fighting injustice in Africa wasn’t even on my radar mere months before Uhuru Child was born. What was consuming my thoughts? Annie Johnson. My senior year of college, I proposed to the love of my life in the mountains of Colorado. We married soon after Graduation and packed our bags to pursue our newest adventure—getting fun jobs for a year in Salzburg, Austria.
But our dreams would not be realized. Just weeks before our wedding, we did something even more risky; we began to pray about where God wanted us. Then, as Annie and I sat in an auditorium with 24,000 other college students at the 2007 Passion Conference, everything changed.
It started with a simple question that riveted my soul: “How could the world change if we stopped living for ourselves and started sacrificing our lives for others?” That simple question began to change our trajectory. For the first time, I saw how selfish my motives were. In a moment, we went from seeking an exciting life traveling through Europe to praying instead about how we could invest our lives into serving others.
Two weeks later, Annie and I moved to East Africa.
My heart was captured in the Kibera slum. Kibera is home to approximately one million people living on 2.2 square miles of land, which is not much bigger than a college campus. It is roughly 30 times more densely populated than Manhattan and consists of a maze of mud hut-lined streets with roughly one toilet for every 400 people.
Amazingly, what struck me the most was not the brokenness, but rather the tremendous hope that prevailed in the midst of poverty. Children laughed, even danced. Though they lived in poverty, they were not defined by the world around them. They had dreams of working as pilots, doctors and even rap artists but they yearned for a quality education. It was then, sitting in a small mud hut in Kibera, that Annie, my cousins and I began discussing how we could build a school for these children.
We went to East Africa asking, “What would it look like to give our lives away?” We returned home with a mission pulsing through our veins: to break the chains of poverty for impoverished children by giving them a top quality education, allowing them to chase their grandest of dreams. And so, Uhuru Child was born.
THE BIG PROBLEM
While the Uhuru Child movement was starting to take off in the United States, in Kenya we began to see the impact of broken development. Almost 100 percent of the programs, schools and orphanages in Kenya, built by well-meaning organizations, only survive if Westerners continue to raise funds and send it over to Kenya. As a result, Kenyan communities were becoming more dependent on Westerners for support, not less. Though this is a working model, it is not a sustainable one, and it is ultimately creating a dependency problem.
UHURU’S UNIQUE SOLUTION
Sustainability and the Gospel: it’s foundational to healthy development, and this is where Uhuru Child excels. While working in the Jikaze Resettlement Village—a community of people forced by tribal warfare to flee from their homes— Uhuru discovered a model that would create employment for adults, provide sustainable secondary high schools for children and help each person know they are loved by an amazing God. Where does the model begin? Community- managed social businesses. After assessing the needs and abilities of those living in Jikaze, Uhuru began to create for-profit businesses focused on giving employment to impoverished adults in Jikaze.
In response to the many living in Jikaze who were farmers prior to the post-election violence, Uhuru built greenhouse businesses. We employ adults in Jikaze and sell the produce to restaurants in Kenya. Once the greenhouse staff members are paid, the additional funds are invested into Uhuru Child’s secondary schools therefore creating a sustainable development model. As we serve the poor through giving them employment and education the doors are opened for us to openly share the love of Jesus Christ with them. This allows us to address both the physical and spiritual poverty.
Does Uhuru Child still raise funds? Absolutely. However, instead of these donations meeting a one-time need or completely funding existing programs, donations are invested into profit-generating social businesses that will remain year after year. That means that a donation given today will provide both employment and education for years to come.
A MOVEMENT HAS STARTED
The Uhuru movement didn’t just grow in America…it exploded. Within a year and a half, Uhuru Child was in 15 colleges and multiple high schools on the East Coast. Today, companies like Sky Valley Foods and Whole Foods give a portion of their profits to Uhuru Child. Churches and individuals have also had the opportunity to join hands with our organization to raise awareness and funds. As hundreds join Uhuru Child in the United States, it is clear that this is a movement motivated by the Lord, not simply fabricated by the Uhuru Child staff.
At Uhuru Child, we believe the Lord has called us and is equipping us to live out Isaiah 61:1-3. These are the very same versus that Christ shares when announcing his ministry in the Temple. In light of this, we are often asked “Why? Why slums and resettlement villages? Why make the effort?” While I know that the reason for so many of those fighting with Uhuru will differ, my personal motivation is simple: I have seen a deep brokenness and poverty in my own life. Yet, in the midst of my greatest struggles, Jesus Christ stepped into my mess and set me free. God was not satisfied with sitting at a distance in the abundant wealth of heaven simply accepting my personal brokenness. Instead, he took off the robes of heaven, became a man who walked among us, entered into our lives and sacrificed his life for each of us. If someone has done this for me, then shouldn’t my life reflect that same passion? Shouldn’t I also give my life away for others? It is this self-sacrificing heart that Jesus lived out that has become the foundation for Uhuru Child.
LET’S GET TO IT!
Uhuru Child has learned more than we could have imagined since our inception, and we are committed to continue learning as we grow. We are about more than developmental formulas, rather, we aim to find creative solutions to end poverty.
We’re starting in Kenya and we need your help. Poverty alleviation is accomplished per- son-by-person, village-by- village. Thus, it is going to take an army made up of people like you, ready to give their lives away as they raise the awareness and funds necessary to create the sustainable solutions needed to break the chains of poverty in the developing world.