As she calmly steps into the vast church compound, she easily interacts with parishioners, warmly exchanging greetings with them. She could pass for an ordinary churchgoer.
However, a white collar on her neck and the conspicuous silver cross sets her apart from the rest of the parishioners at PCEA Neema Church in Nakuru East.
Meet Reverend Pauline Kanuthu, the youthful Presbyterian minister, whose mission is to change the lives of her parishioners and surrounding communities, both spiritually and economically.
She is preaching the gospel of entrepreneurship. A section of the church has been turned into a training centre for boda boda riders and poultry farmers.
In addition, she has been leading a team of medical experts and counsellors to rehabilitate drug addicts.
Her work is slowly turning the fortunes of her parish, which includes the densely populated Kiti, Workers, Free Area, Engashura and Mawanga estates.
“I felt I could do more beyond preaching the gospel to my parishioners,” she said.
Rev Kanuthu, who was recently elected as the vice-president of Africa Communion of Reformed Churches, said her first meeting with boda boda operators was a big success.
“No one seems to appreciate what they do yet the transport system in this country would never be the same without their input,” she said.
She said many of them were doing a good job but the society only focuses on the negative aspects.
“Some people are quick to condemn boda boda operators fpr all manner of ills but nobody is offering them alternative ways to help them become agents of change.”
And since the church has a rich pool of experts drawn from various backgrounds, she had no shortage of professionals to help her achieve her dreams.
“I reached out to the experts in the church and asked them to help me empower my parishioners economically,” Rev Kanuthu said.
“The experts are not paid but sometimes the church goes out of its way and appreciates them in a small way,” she said.
The church’s role is no longer confined to spiritual matters only.
“The reason the church exists is not only for spiritual nourishment but also uplifting the living standards of those still struggling in life.”
She draws her inspiration from ordinary churchgoers who are struggling to make an honest living.
The programme she started jointly with the help of the church elders is a big success and many people have benefited from it.
“When our beneficiaries go out and implement what we teach them that greatly motivates me,” she said.
Mr Anthony Maina, a boda boda rider, said he learnt valuable tips on security and safety.
“Many of our members know very little about security measures and how to apply them when faced with dangers. I hope to use the tips to defend myself while on duty,” Mr Maina said.
Ms Joyce Wanjiru, a beneficiary of the poultry programme, said:
“I have never kept poultry. I have learnt a lot and I will venture into this business. I now know the spacing required for the coops to make the chicken comfortable and free from diseases. The feeding and marketing lessons were also an eye-opener.”
Mr Jonathan Kemuge said he was returning home very knowledgeable about poultry farming. “The lessons I took has given me great tips that I intend to use to start a small poultry enterprise in my farm in Ngata.”
Mrs Mary Mutua will forever be indebted to Rev Kanuthu for saving her marriage.
“My husband was an alcoholic but after undergoing rehab, he is now a changed man and has resumed his duties as the head of the family,” the mother of five said.
Mr Zachariah Karugu, an official of Nakuru Poultry Farmers’ Cooperative Society, said he had learned how to overcome challenges such as price fluctuations in the market.
Mr Robin Ombiro, a lecturer at Animal Health and Industry Training Institute in Nyahururu and the programme trainer, said many poultry farmers were making losses due to lack of knowledge on disease management.
“They have learnt how to avoid such loses and prevent diseases,” he said.