PASTOR HABIL OGOLA ONGERE
Habil Ogola is a Pastor and trained Laboratory Technologist from the Upper Nyakach Plateau of Western Kenya. In 1978, Pastor Habil received a degree in Theology and, since then, has served as a Pastor in a rural area, overseeing seven churches. In 1981, Pastor Habil completed training as a Medical Laboratory Technologist at the Kenya Medical Training College. He also holds certificates in Primary Health Care, Tuberculosis Management and Antiretroviral Administration. He practiced as a Laboratory Technologist for 26 years, until his retirement in 2008. In 1998, Pastor Habil founded Bethlehem Home in response to the many orphans and extreme poverty of children and elderly people in the area. Since 1998, Bethlehem Home has become a community of more than 500 people, opened a primary school, initiated many community health and business projects, improving the health and business ventures of the rural Luo community in the Nyanza Province of Western Kenya. Pastor Habil is the heart and brains behind Bethlehem Home, as he knows this community extremely well and is passionate about serving and empowering vulnerable members of the community. Pastor Habil looks forward to overseeing the projects of Bethlehem Home for many years to come.
Cephas Okumu has served as the manager of the Bethlehem Home for 11 years. Before working for BH, he worked as a clerical officer, or secretary. Cephas possesses strong leadership and management skills, making him an ideal manager for the Bethlehem Home. Cephas’ duties include: informing Bethlehem Home members about upcoming events; issuing purchased goods (such as goats and water tanks) to members of Bethlehem Home and to the school; seeing that elders and orphans obtain food; visiting BH members at their homes, supervising their businesses, gardens, dairy goats and planted gardens; and facilitating the Bethlehem Home Business Groups.
The Administrator Bethlehem Home and Bethlehem-Kuoko Academy
Mary Onyango serves as the Administrator of Bethlehem Home and the Bethlehem-Kuoko Academy. She has also served as the secretary of Bethlehem Home since 2001. As the administrator of the school, Mary has several duties such as: ensuring proper curriculum delivery; recommending the right teachers from the community for the school; making sure there is harmony among teachers and pupils; and confirming that the school is conducive to learning. Mary is hardworking, trustworthy, and honest. She has kept excellent records for Bethlehem Home for over a decade. She has shown exemplary performance in the office when Bethlehem Home hosts visitors. She is also regarded as a very creative and visionary representative of Bethlehem Home.
QUEEN “MAMA FAITH” OGOLA
Food supplier to the orphans, the elders, and Bethlehem-Kuoko Academy
Mama Faith is the wife of Pastor Habil Ogola. The Ogola family has 7 children: Nelly, Faith, Martin, Oliver, Don, Robert and Rogers . Mama Faith is the main supplier of food for the orphans and elders of Bethlehem Home. Bethlehem Home provides lunch for the orphans and elders every day at the Ogola home. Mama Faith also serves as the food coordinator for the Bethlehem Kuoko Academy. She has such love for the orphans and elders that keeps her pondering on the best way to feed them.
In addition to looking out for the nutritional needs for the community, Mama Faith also works as a skilled trader at a small store that she owns in the nearby town of Bodi. The shop is called “HAKI Enterprise”; “Haki” means “Truth” in Kiswahili.
The Agricultural Officer of Bethlehem Home
Manager of the Bethlehem-Kuoko Academy School Garden
Straw to Bread’s efforts in farming are made possible by the intelligence, kindness, and strength of Charles Tei. Charles is a local agricultural expert who received a diploma in agriculture after two years of study in Kenya. For several years, he has volunteered his time to help guide, execute, and lead the various Straw to Bread efforts in agriculture. In 2009, he helped lead the tree planting effort, hiking hundreds of kilometers to every BH member home. In 2012, he was instrumental in conceiving the Bethlehem Kuoko Academy Garden. That summer, he managed the construction of that garden, and he continues to monitor its success throughout the year. Charles farms his own land on the lower slopes of the Nyakach plateau where he lives with his wife and children. His work ethic, education, and leadership continue to form the base of Straw to Bread’s efforts to increase food security for the members of Bethlehem Home.
The Security Officer
Frederick Oburu is a retired Primary School teacher who now serves as the Security Officer for Bethlehem Home. He has worked for Bethlehem Home for 3 years. Many of the orphans live a long walk from school or live in more remote areas. Frederick works to protect these children by posting security at the school as well as ensuring children get home safely after school. He also looks after materials at the school and in the community that are more valuable.
Meshack has served as Technical Advisor for Bethlehem Home for 3 years. Before this position, he held the position of Veterinary Officer, which is now held by Erastus Owuor. Meshack is an elderly man in the community who gives counseling services to many of the elders of Bethlehem Home. He also raises awareness on HIV/AIDS, which is very prevalent in this area. Furthermore, he has expertise in the SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) water purification technique and teaches these skills to members of the community.
The Veterinary Officer
Erastus Owuor has served as Veterinary Officer at Bethlehem Home for 3 years. Erastus trained for two years for a veterinary services certificate, which trained him to care for many different farm animals, including cattle and goats. He cares for the many milk goats that provide for the Bethlehem Home orphans and elders. He was also the one who determined which type of goat would be best suited for the area. In his veterinary training, he learned about the many diseases and treatments of farm animals. He frequently visits each goat, providing a proper veterinary care if needed as well as providing training on proper goat care for the elders who care for the goats.
NELLY ATIENO OGUNDE
Kenya Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation
Nelly Atieno Ogunde is the oldest child of Pastor Habil and Mama Faith Ogola. She is the mother of two teenaged children: Aquines and Brian.
Nelly holds a Diploma in Environmental Health Sciences from the Kakamega Medical Training College in Kenya. Nelly currently resides in Kisumu, Kenya where she has worked for the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation for over ten years. She is currently the supervisor of the Western division. Her duties include disease prevention and control (via immunization), water quality control (treatment of water at the household level), food quality control, health education of community members, approval of building plans, supervision of community health workers, and inspection of upcoming buildings and food plants.
Nelly makes frequent visits to the Plateau and assists in supervising and advising community health projects of Bethlehem Home. With an excellent understanding of public health infrastructure and protocol in Kenya, Nelly is an invaluable contributor to the spirit and success of Bethlehem Home.
Don is the sixth child of Pastor Habil and Mama Faith Ogola. Don currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya as he attends the University of Nairobi Medical School. Following graduation from medical school, Don plans to move back to the Nyakach Plateau, where he grew up, to practice medicine in rural areas. Don says, “My hope to change lives lies deeply in the rural area where I come from. Immediately after my graduation from medical school in 2014, I will receive the certificate to practice as medical practitioner. I will go back to my village to provide the medical services that are desperately needed by the people there. The plan to build the Bethlehem Home Clinic will be of great importance to make this dream a reality. I believe in a God who continually helps Dr. Lisa Baker and the entire Straw to Bread community to help us here to have better lives. So many people work with us here to improve health, education and business, which helps us to have better lives. May God bless you all very abundantly.”
For more information about Don and his story, please see his biography page.