We just returned from one of the most amazing events…the 2013 Epoch Awards in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was a perfect evening at the historic Fox Theater and everyone was dressed to celebrate.  Six awards were given honoring Christian leaders who have developed creative solutions and approaches to missions. 

Although CRIO International didn’t win a monetary award, it was an honor just to sit among such an incredible group of people and to be named among one of three Global Mission Leaders!  Story after story was shared from everyday people that lived as if what they did really mattered.

Thank you to all of our donors, pastors, teachers, orphan care-givers, carpenters, and volunteer staff for making it possible for CRIO International to represent you at this event.  You are the true heroes and your stories continue to inspire us! 

We love to hear about the innovative ways that you and your family are loving your neighbors well.  Read about how one of our partners is working with our friends in Africa to help children understand their environment through mathematics and science and created a model for a community garden providing sustainable nutrition and income for a CRIO orphanage in Lumakanda, Kenya. 


Why Crio’s Story is Now Mine | Relationships that Work 

by Pat Kellogg Roller

PEOPLE ECOLOGY – “Relationships That Work”

Ecology is the science of relationships between organisms and their environment.

I have a satisfying, working relationship with Dr. Ron Hesser of CRIO International.  He has a unique way of using a person’s skills and expertise in a “hands-on,“ hearts-on” way to ease the suffering of the poorest people in Africa.

I am happy to announce that out of 500 nominations from around the world, CRIO International was honored in Atlanta as one of three finalists for the Global Missions Leader 2013 Epoch “unsung hero” Award.  The Epoch Awards exist to honor heroes and missions innovators who are crossing the boulevard of the world to serve where poverty, drought, HIV/AIDS, sex-trafficking, homelessness, and fear reign.

CRIO International has helped plant or affiliate with 1000 churches in the poverty stricken villages of 37 nations of Africa. These small churches, whose walls are built by the villagers, with a roof provided by CRIO mean the villagers own their church.  They can be proud of their accomplishment.

CRIO Bible College trains the ministers who care for villagers teaching them to love God and love one another in ways that are healthy and good.

Alongside 14 of these churches are 14 CRIO primary schools, 2 high schools, and 4 orphanages housing more than 100 children. This is a grassroots ministry with funding provided by a faithful few.  

When Dr. Hesser decided African children must have better education in math and science, he asked me to work this curriculum in CRIO primary schools because that is my specialty.

Using activities, experiments, and books on my website: www.free-energy-env-exp4kids.com,  I began my experiment with Pastor Philip Shitote, ESHIBIMBI Primary School in Bakura, Kenya. He is an intelligent, hard-working, man who loves God.  His wife is a teacher in the school.

Our goal was to use natural, “creative problem solving,” “hands-on“ experience to help 20 primary children learn math and science.  When I learned that 7 of the children were orphans who had worms and had no shoes to keep them away and who were hungry, I began where they were.

After CRIO helped provide antibiotics for the worm problem, we provided flip-flops, seeds, and fertilizer and Philip led the children in creating a 100 meter by 100 meter Children’s Garden on the church grounds.

With four shovels and two machetes, they dug up the hard earth. Sympathetic villagers came and helped the children however; it is the children who own the Children’s Garden. 

Their model was on my website page OUTDOOR LAB KIDS which taught them “how to do and learn” as they worked with the earth!  Math and science came easily as they measured, added nutrients, counted and planted seeds, and helped them grow.  They chose peanuts, cabbages, and tomatoes as their crop.  As the garden was growing they focused on my website’s “Children’s Ecology,” and “Practice SPICE Activities” as they began to learn the ecology of “how our planet works.”  They found many examples of ecology in their own garden ecosystem.

My first adventure-science book “Pink Hat’s Adventure With Kites,” and the second book, Pink Hat’s Adventure With Seagulls, Hats, And Dancing Feet” are being translated into French and their native tongue, so they can read science.

At the start of this experiment, Pastor Philip and I agreed that the project must become sustainable in the first year and thereafter.  The garden must earn enough money at market to buy seeds, fertilizer, etc. to keep the garden going from season to season so the orphans and other children would be fed.  The children must learn crop rotation and how to use a compost heap and animal waste to help enrich the soil.

If we could create such a good working model, it could then spread to the other primary schools!  

Last Saturday, students took their first garden produce, tomatoes, to market.  As they began to eat from the garden they wanted to begin to sell and save for the next crop.

Could we say that, in addition to math and science, they are learning agriculture, buying and selling, planning and saving?  Could we say they are inspiring the villagers with their hard work and play as they learn?

Friends of ours helped raise half the money needed to buy a hand pump and pipe to irrigate the garden during the dry season so food may be grown all year. There is a nearby stream which has not gone dry.

My husband and I donated half the money needed to dig a well on the church yard to provide clean drinking water for the villagers.  Every day children in Africa die from drinking bad water.

Other friends are raising all of the money needed to provide a sewing machine for 10 church widows who will sew for the orphans, as well as mend, and create clothing to sell to better their lives.

CRIO is paying the other half of the money needed for the water pump and pipe as well as half the money needed for the water well.  CRIO likes this kind of partnership.

This is an example of what I mean by the opportunity to use your skills in grassroots, innovative ministry.  It is exciting.  It is fun.  It is satisfying.  And it is a double blessing to all who participate in whatever way.

CRIO International is providing just enough resources to help people help themselves, become sustainable, then reach out to help others.  That is what I mean by PEOPLE ECOLOGY, relationships that work. 

About the author:  Pat is a teacher, author, wife, mother, grandmother, and volunteer.  You can read more at www.free-energy-env-exp4kids-blog.com.

Orphan Project, Lumakanda, Kenya

Orphan Project, Lumakanda, Kenya