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Gitobu, Esther Karimi

Gitobu, Esther Karimi

Serving At: Cambodia Mission Initiative
Home Country: Kenya, Africa

Esther Karimi Gitobu is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, currently serving in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with the Methodist Mission of Cambodia (MMC).

She uses her gift of communication in mission interpretation, grant writing, and in her role as United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) coordinator. She particularly delights in connecting partners in the United States and local partners in Cambodia through the “In Mission Together” emphasis.

From 1999 to 2002, Esther and her husband, Nicholas, then a missionary and now in seminary, served in the Southern Congo Annual Conference in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There, Esther was involved with peace and reconciliation efforts, which gave her experiences that translated well to Cambodia, a country still recovering from the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.

As UMVIM coordinator, Esther facilitates short-term mission experiences through which volunteers can grow to appreciate the transformational power of serving and being served. She works with teams and individual volunteers from Japan, Singapore, Korea, Switzerland, and the United States. Her greatest joy, Esther says, is “to see volunteer teams share their resources, skills, and manpower with churches and programs in Cambodia, only to walk away completely and forever transformed by how much more the Khmer people teach and give them in return. The road of transformational servanthood is a two-way street.”

While serving in Southeast Asia, Esther has felt a growing passion to help young people in Cambodia acquire the resources needed to obtain high school and college educations. One of her dreams is the creation of a Scholarship Endowment Fund to assist future generations. Esther was instrumental in initiating “Youth Camp,” an opportunity for youth from across Cambodia to come together for fellowship and learning. It has become an annual event for the Methodist youth there. 

A native of Meru, Kenya, Esther is a member of Charles New Methodist Church in Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a diploma in business administration from Kenya Polytechnic Institute and was chief cashier at the Central Bank of Kenya in Nairobi before entering the mission field in 1999. Esther and Nicholas have three daughters: Jeannette, Nicole, and Michelle.

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