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									Obituary: Fidelis Wainaina
Micah Challenge is deeply saddened by the sudden death through illness of Fidelis
Wainaina. Fidelis was a beloved Member of our International Board, a sister in
Christ, an inspiration and a friend to all in our international movement who came
to know her these past five years. Fidelis was the founder and Director of Maseno
Inter-Christian Child Self Help Group (MICH). Maseno is in the far west of Kenya
near Uganda. Her work with MICH had helped to reduce the level of malnutrition
among children in this area of Maseno from 86% to less than 1%. In 2006, Fidelis
was a winner of the Africa Green Revolution Yara Prize 2006. Demands for her to
speak internationally increased. In October she spoke for Micah Challenge
alongside the United Nations Secretary General at Global Forum in Washington.

Fidelis didn't seek international recognition, and the community served by MICH
was always closest to her heart and the centre of her life in Christ. MICH became
known as a model. Fidelis' team and community were often visited by
international academic and United Nations teams wanting to study and promote
best practice in sustainable agriculture and livelihoods for poor and remote

However, it seemed to us that her impact and influence internationally as an
African woman of deep faith, courage and knowledge, would grow enormously,
particularly as she travelled and spoke for Micah Challenge. Organisations
involved in Micah Challenge were making preparations to better support MICH
when Fidelis was called to travel – the burden of the gifts brought by our African
leaders to other countries is often borne by their own organisations. Fidelis
affected international audiences and leaders with her clarity, deep faith, engaging
wide eyes and smile. She was prophetic in who she was and what she had to say.
She refused to accept that the work of God with poor communities was
dependent on outside funding and spoke up when others wrung their hands and
said they couldn't act before grants came. She understood agricultural economics
as it affected communities in Western Kenya and would not accept doctrinaire
approaches, left or right, that didn't address the reality faced by poor

Pastor Adam Philips the Chair of Micah Challenge USA writes of Fidelis: "Fidelis
was a model of someone who embodied “integral mission” – a whole faith
exercised for love, justice, and the common good… she trained orphans and
widows in agricultural basics; when she taught young people how to plant a
banana tree she offered a lesson God’s love and concern for everyone. Reflecting
on the MDGs last year, she reminded many to have “the understanding that
global problems have a grass roots cause, a political cause and an international
cause.” She exercised her gifts and talents in all these areas". (Read the whole of
Pastor Philips' reflection on Fidelis at http://www.one.org/blog/2008/03/11/in-

Fidelis was a delightful person to spend time with. Former Coordinator of Micah
Challenge Canada, Rev Paul Robinson recalls: "Fidelis had a very special place in
our hearts - she endeared herself to us when she stayed at our home during the
eastern part of her visit to Canada. She laughed because she could never get
warm, though we turned up the thermostat, gave her an extra little heater,
bundled her with extra sweaters, and sent her to bed with a hot water bottle!
She maintained that the sun shines in Canada, but it doesn't work! "

Fidelis died at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi on March 5. We pray for her
mother Lydia, her brothers and sisters and other members of her family living in
the UK and Kenya. We pray for the Board and Staff of MICH, for the members of
the communities MICH serves and MICH's international partners including
Erikshjalpen. We rejoice for her life and we will miss her deeply.

Michael Smitheram

You may like to see a brief interview with Fidelis and the joint winner of the Yara
Prize, Celina Cossa, at

Tribute to Fidelis Wainiana
By Jane Furniss
International Coordinator, Micah Network

I was very shocked to hear the news and am very deeply affected by
Fidelis's sudden passing. I stand with all of you at this time in prayer -
in memory of our dear sister and friend who loved Jesus and followed him in
a way that inspires and challenges us all.

I was able to spend 3 precious days with Fidelis in November 2008, visiting
the communities her organization MICH has been seeking to serve for the past
several years. As I grieve her passing, I wanted to share with you a story
from this visit.

Many of you know of Fidelis' significant work in Maseno - introducing new
agricultural techniques and helping to reduce the level of malnutrition
among children in this area from 86% to less than 1%. Jeffrey Sachs, author
of the End of Poverty visited her work and she was awarded the Yara Prize
for the African Green Revolution in 2006. She is widely known outside
Africa. But it is my experience with her in these villages she felt called
to serve in, that I wanted to share with you.

During the time of my visit to Maseno, we met one young girl who was in the
"less than 1% bracket" - a young girl called Evelyn, 9 years old who was
suffering with severe malnutrition. Evelyn did not have malnutrition because
of a lack of food (Fidelis's work had already addressed that!), but rather
because of stigma and fear. Evelyn had been ill for a long time (with TB we
found out later) and because of this, her family had considered her cursed
and her father did not allow her to be fed. The community had not interfered
because they felt that Evelyn's father was violent and did not want to risk
upsetting him. When we visited the community, Evelyn and her mother sat away
from the rest of the community, their heads down.

Fidelis reacted angrily to the community and asked them how they could allow
this girl to starve while there was now enough food for everyone. I could
not understand all that she said (she was speaking in a local dialect and
for a very long time!) but I could appreciate that she had a strong sense of
outrage. She demanded that stigma and fear would not paralyse the community
from action and that they would act differently in the future. At the time I
remember feeling slightly uncomfortable - I had never seen her angry before!
But I understood that she had a deep longing for biblical justice that she
wanted the community to own also.

Fidelis told the community the parable of the lost sheep, that the shepherd
would go looking for the lost one and celebrate its homecoming, and that
Jesus would do that for this little girl, who He loved. She told the
community that this little girl was precious in God's eyes, and demonstrated
this by taking some of the food the leader had offered to her (food she
would rather not be given in these circumstances), and going to sit with
her. Volunteers quickly came forward and accompanied Evelyn, her mother and
Fidelis to the hospital.

Unfortunately we heard during February that Evelyn had not lived, though
Fidelis continued to check on her while her own health was suffering. It was
her firm hope that what happened to Evelyn would not be repeated.

I will remember Fidelis for many things - but at this moment, I remember and
am inspired by the way she cared for Evelyn and the way she interacted with
these poor and marginalized communities - working alongside them and also
inspiring them to action. Fidelis was a wonderful leader in her community,
respected and deeply loved. She was also humble, gracious and at times
vulnerable - and very dependent on God's guidance and wisdom.

I will also remember her soft voice at Micah Challenge International board
meetings - and her asking to each proposal put forward, "And how will this
benefit the poor, the people at the grassroots level.?"

May God comfort Fidelis' family and friends at this time and we may all
remember her friendship and most significant contribution to Micah
Challenge. May we continue to be mindful of her question to Micah Challenge
International, and find ways to answer it in a way which would please her.

God bless

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