Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year, New Adventures!

Happy New Year everyone!

2013 was an amazing year filled with challenges, amazing people and incredible experiences. When I think back over the year I am amazed and grateful for all of the ways I have experienced God's love in different parts of the world. 

As 2014 starts I have some exciting news- I am moving to Rome, Italy! I will be continuing mission work with the Episcopal Church at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center (JNRC) at St. Paul's Within the Walls Episcopal Church in Rome. The JNRC is a day center that serves political refugees. Currently we serve 200-250 political refugees daily. We provide supplies, training, emotional support and assistance with paperwork and documentation. The center only has one paid part time staff member, other than that the center runs completely on donations and volunteers. Refugees in Italy are not allowed to work and there are few places where they can get housing which are usually only open over night. The JNRC meets an essential need in the city for these refugees as it provides a place for them to go during the day. Italy receives a disproportionate number of political refugees because of the location. The crisis is constant. More and more people seeking asylum are crossing into Italy all of the time. The JNRC exists to serve and love the political refugees. Their situations are all different, but all equally as trying. It is important that we do what we can to change their situations. 

I will be serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for the center for 3 months, February-April. Different groups of volunteers come in throughout the year to help in the center. I will organize and coordinate the various individuals and groups wishing to serve in the center. As the volunteer coordinator I will help build the capacity of the center by implementing much needed systems so the center can run more efficiently and effectively. 

In order to make this work possible, I am asking you to support me prayerfully and financially. Living in Italy for 3 months will cost approximately $3,600 ($1,200 per month), which will cover my housing, food, and transportation costs. I am asking you to commit to any monthly amount that you feel comfortable with for February, March, and April, or for a one-time donation. If I could get 12 people to commit to $100 a month for 3 months only I would be covered! For a tax-deductible donation you can make checks payable to:

St. Paul’s Within the Wall Episcopal Church
Memo--JNRC: Volunteer Coordinator Jenny Korwan

And send them to:

Jenny Korwan
510 Pine Springs Trail
Marietta, GA 30067

Please send me an email or give me a call if you would like to send support or if you have any questions. I would love to talk to you more about this opportunity.

Phone: 404-514-3443

Thank you all for continuing to love and support me and the work the church is doing world wide! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Hello friends! It has been entirely too long since I have given you an update and since I am back in Kenya it feels needed. Yes, I am back in Kenya! But only for 2 weeks. If you followed me last year, you know a group from Trinity Church in Boston came to work with their Pamoja partner Nyumba Ya Tumaini and in an effort to continue this partnership I am back to do some more work with Tatua and Nyumba Ya Tumaini. It was a long journey over here, but I cannot express how happy and thankful I am to be back.

The past couple of months have been full of seeing people and spending quality time with my family. Also I have made some decisions about my future. Just a quick update- I have decided to defer graduate school in Boston for a year. There are many factors that went into the decision, but I feel good about it and as I make more decisions I will let you all know.

All of the new YASCers have been out at their placements now for a few months and they are all doing incredible things once again. If this is a program you are interested in check out the website because they are accepting applications now for next year. Please continue to pray for current, past and present YASCers and for the global mission of the church.

I know this was brief, but expect a few more stories throughout my time here and a full report when I return home. Thanks again for being a part of this with me. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Barikiwe (Be Blessed)

Over a year ago I boarded a plane to Nairobi, Kenya with a heart full of excitement! Today I will board a plane again, this time headed back to Atlanta, GA. It is hard to express the exact emotions I am feeling at the moment. One thing I can say for sure is that my heart is full of gratitude.

This past year has been life changing to say the least. I have learned so much about mission, partnership, love, and myself. There is no way to thank each person who has been a part of this journey with me. Tatua Kenya has been an amazing organization to work for and the YASC program is something I would recommend to anyone ready to experience the world in a new way.

As I leave today I will start reflecting on my time in Kenya knowing that it is not over. In fact, I think it is just the beginning for me. I am excited to begin this new season of life returning to the US and returning to school in Boston with anticipation of returning to Kenya one day.

Most of you all know that I developed a relationship with one organization here called Nyumba Ya Tumaini, a home for street boys from Nairobi. For a long time I have felt a specific calling (for lack of a better word) to work with street boys and it just seemed impossible. Growing up I had the love and support of amazing friends and family, as I still do today. One of my favorite aspects of my life is the fact that I am an older sister to an incredible younger brother. Even though I picked on him and knew exactly how to push his buttons, the love I have for my little brother is huge. The joy I get out of being a big sister is one of the reasons I feel so much love towards the boys of Nyumba ya Tumaini. All that being said, I have decided to join the board of the organization and begin working with Ben (director) and the rest of the Tumaini community to restructure and build on an already incredible program! As this process happens I will keep you all updated and I will ask for your continued prayer and support.

When I return home I would love to talk to each of you about my experience with Tatua, YASC and Tumaini. Please send me an email or give me a call if you would like to get together one on one or for a group.

Barikiwe! (Be Blessed!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Elewana Education Project

Me standing outside the Elewana offices.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, there is an Episcopal missionary named Rev. Zach Drennen who runs a project out in Amagoro, which is Western Kenya almost to the Ugandan border. It is called The Elewana Education Project. Amagoro is a relatively unreached area in terms of aid so they work with the Diocese of Katakwa to support secondary education through sponsorships, technology and community development.

I have been wanting to get out there and visit since even before I arrived in Kenya. Of course, it came down to my last week, but I am so thankful I got out there. It is a beautiful section of Kenya. I stayed in the mission house with Zach and another volunteer, Paul. It is clear that Zach and the rest of the staff is well known and loved in the community. The most important member of the Elewana family, though, is Bob. Bob is Zach's dog. He resides at the mission house and has become a beloved fixture around Amagoro. All of the kids get so excited when they see Bob pass on his walks.

St. Peter's Aterait Secondary School
In the short 6 days I was there I got to help plan for the Episcopal High School group who arrived Saturday, attend an event about English teaching put on by the cultural affairs office of the U.S. Embassy, go to Kisumu for the BIG shopping trip, and visit Mt. Elgon! It was a busy 6 days, but I loved every minute. The staff at the house and office were so warm and welcoming. The school we visited, St. Peter's Secondary School, is one of the best I have seen. Episcopal High School is working with the students there over the next 2 weeks to do a service project in the community. When we did the preliminary visit the principal and the teachers were great and seemed to genuinely love what they do. That passion is not something you see everyday, especially radiating through an entire school. I cannot wait to hear how the project turns out.

Now I am back in Nairobi and believe it or not this is my last full day in Kenya until August! It is really hard to believe that I get on a plane tomorrow night and arrive back in the US on Thursday. I am not sure how to feel about going home. I am definitely excited to see friends and family, but there is some uncertainty about what it will feel like to be home after a year away. Since I will be returning in August I do not need to be too sad this time and I do not have to say any final goodbyes yet, which is nice. I am sure there will be a lot of reflection to come. All I know right now is that this has been the most incredible year so far and despite the many challenges here, my love for this country has only grown. Hope everyone is having a good week. Talk to you back in the US!

Below are some more pictured from my trip out to Amagoro. Enjoy!
Diocese of Katakwa Mission House.

The mission house.

Me with Mama Beatrice. She makes some stellar chapati!

Paul (another volunteer) and Leonard (the house boy and future marathon star).

The science lab at St. Peter's.

On the way out to the school.

On the way up to Mt. Elgon.

We stopped for tea at the Mt. Elgon Lodge

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just Imagine

Imagine for a minute that you are 14 years old. You live with your mom and step father in a poor community in Kenya. Your step father is a drunk and and at night when he returns home he takes his drunken rage out on you. Because of this you decide that it is not safe for you to be at home so you start sleeping out in the forrest or you find friends you can stay with. This angers your step father more, which in turn angers your mother. They decide they no longer want to deal with you so they take you to court and wrongfully accuse you of stealing money and being disobedient. It is your word against 2 adults. The court system finds you guilty as a minor and ships you off to a remand center for a sentence of 2 years. The intent is that YOU will be rehabilitated from behaviors that you did not exhibit to start with, while your mother and step father continue living just as they were.

Now your 2 years is over and you are sent home. Here's the kicker- you get home to find everyone in your family gone with no explanation. Eventually you get a hold of an uncle who is now taking care of you little brother and sister, but will not take you in. He will give you no information about your parents. You have no idea whether they are dead or alive. You are now 16. What do you do? The government has no luck tracking down your family so you are just sent back to the remand center for an unknown amount of time feeling hopeless, unwanted, unloved, bitter and lost.

Meet Mary Wangui. That is her story.

Me with my new friend Mary!
I do not know about you all, but I believe somewhere along the line the system failed Mary. In 2 more years she will be 18, considered an adult, and the government will no longer support her and regardless of where she is in her education or training she will be released with no where to go.

Yesterday I spent the day with over 100 girls like Mary who live at a remand center in Dagoretti. Through conversations with these girls we learned that the main cause behind their placement there is dysfunctional families. If they were not turned into the court by their parents, then most were found living on the street due to abuse or neglect. The remand center is a nice place with nice teachers, but in terms of rehabilitation I do not know how much they can accomplish with their resources. These girls put on a brave face everyday and as much as I know they enjoyed having visitors they are still filled with bitterness and loss. They need one on one counseling to understand they are loved and be reminded there is more life left to live and they have a choice in what that looks like.

My heart broke for Mary. What do you tell someone like that who has lost everything and has been told by her own family that she is not wanted? There is really nothing you can say and nothing frustrates me more than that. All you can do is listen and be a friend and show compassion. I do not blame her for feeling hopeless. Nothing in her life has told her otherwise. I believe there is hope for Mary and for each of the girls there and I am praying earnestly that God will reveal Himself to them. Please join in praying with me for Mary and the millions of children living in poverty. Pray for their parents, the governments, and those working to find solutions and bring change.

Entrence into the center.
I do not want this post to be all sad. Yesterday was a fantastic day because we got to know what issues the girls are facing and now we can use the information to work on creating a partnership between Nafisika Trust and the center. Not only that, but we learned more about where the gaps in the system are and now we can start looking at ways to close those gaps.  It was a day full of dancing, singing, and laughter.
The wonderful group from Nafisika.

Introduction and games!

Lunch time.

Small group games and conversation.

Mary, as I said, is one of many many children living on the street. The Be The Change projects in Rongai, Nkoroi, Ngong, and Dagoretti are working to get them back into school by working with the parents and with all of the stakeholders in the communities. You can support the project in Ngong by clicking here and donating on Global Giving. We have 15 days left to raise 2,000 pounds!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Global Giving

Yesterday I met with my friend Vickie, who started Nafisika Trust. Most of you that have read my blog before know that Nafisika is the group working in the prisons here in Kenya. Every time I meet with Vickie I leave encouraged. I am not only encouraged by the amazing work they are doing, but also by the incredible work Tatua is doing. Vickie and I met to finalize plans for an event we are having this Saturday at Dagoretti Children's Center. DCC is a remand center for girls and we are hoping to spend Saturday just getting to know the girls and see what their needs are to determine how Nafisika can begin a partnership with them.

As we were talking I could tell Vickie was exhausted and exhilarated all at once. She kept telling me about all of the meetings she was having with important people AND that at each one she used the skill of Public Narrative, which is taught in community organizing! She was thanking me because Tatua taught her that skill. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with me, but I told her I would pass her thanks on and I thanked her for reminding me how grateful I am to be a tiny part of this work.

I asked her how she was doing and she looked at me and said, "I do not know how I ended up here. I do not know how this work is getting done and how we will continue to do it." It just seems crazy how many big things are happening in Kenya right now. So many communities are coming together to support projects that they, themselves, want and need. Vickie told me that everyday she just asks God what to do next and when something seems impossible, which most things do, she prays and she trusts that God will come through. I can say the same thing for Natalie. At Tatua immense things are happening and communities are transforming and embracing their power.

This work is not easy and would be impossible to me without faith. Natalie and Vickie are two shining examples for me of what it means to have faith and a belief in the mission of God. Everyday I start to see more and more how important it is and will be to change the face of aid around the world. I go home in just 2 weeks and with me I am bringing a new outlook with a desire to live out the motto of Tatua - "Exposing the power of ground-up solutions."

This month Tatua is participating in an online fundraising competition on Global Giving. Donate here today to help launch the campaign in the Ngong community and send over 1,000 kids from the streets back to school! To learn more, here is a video of one of the Ngong leadership team members talking about her experience so far working with Tatua.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Three Things

Every week that passes here feels so full, but this past week in particular was extremely busy! There were three main things that I want to catch you up on. Honestly I could probably write a post on each one, but I won't. I will just give you the highlights.

First- Last weekend, May 17-18, we had a training at the office. It was a training for trainers. In a week we will be hosting a big training for all of the leadership teams that our organizers have recruited from their communities. Natalie and Ken facilitated a training to train our organizers and a few more local leaders to help lead the next big training. It was an incredible experience for me because it was the first time I got to participate in a training. To see people come together and find a shared purpose is a powerful experience. It was a couple of long days, but it was impossible to walk away without reaching a new level of gratitude that I get to be a part of this work. 
The group who attended the training!
David and I outside the Shalom House
Second- We received a visit from Rev. David Copley from the church office in New York this past week. I picked him from the airport Tuesday evening after his flight was delayed a couple of hours. We had a great dinner, but unfortunately we made a bad decision on accommodation. Even though we did not get much sleep, Wednesday morning we were up early and Zach Drennen, another missionary, picked us up from the hotel. While Zach and David spent some time together I was able to get some work done. That afternoon Natalie picked David and I up so we could go and attend a meeting in Ngong with Rose and Jacob, community organizers there. The meeting was for the community to decide who would be a part of their leadership team and how they could ensure equal representation from all areas within Ngong. It was amazing! Jacob did a fantastic job facilitating the meeting and the way in which the community has already taken ownership of their project is so encouraging. There were stakeholders from all areas of the community: church leaders, the area chief, youth and others. David, at the end of the meeting, brought us back to the Baptismal covenant and the part of it that talks about respecting the dignity of EVERY human being and how our work is in line with that. He was very encouraging about Tatua's model. I am very grateful that he was able to come. For those of you outside the YASC program, you need to understand that David is like our Papa Bear. And really everyone at the church office takes such good care of us and when we get to see them it is wonderful!

Third- Yesterday I went and visited Dagoretti Children's Home with Vickie, Maya, and Purity from Nafisika Trust. Nafisika is the organization working in the prisons here that I have gotten to do a little work with since I have been here. Dagoretti Children's Home is a government run remand center for girls who have committed petty crimes or are considered low and medium risk. The grounds were really peaceful. About 80 girls currently live there and attend school there. The school buildings they use were built in 1922! Believe it or not they look better than some other schools I have seen here. Nafisika wants to start doing more work with children and youths so as a first step in getting to know Dagoretti Children's Home we want to hold a 'Fun Day' event there on June 15th to celebrate African Day of the Child. If you would like to help support this event financially please let me know. We have a goal of raising $400 to make this possible so any contribution would be extremely helpful. Please send me an email to if you can help.

School building that was built in 1922!

On another note- I am going to Ethiopia tomorrow! I will be going to meet my friend Abby there and we will do some traveling around and site seeing. Don't worry pictures will come soon after I return.

As always na shukuru sana sana! (I am very very thankful for you all!) Summer has started for most of you now so enjoy the sunshine.