Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fun Days

 I have now met all the directors of the organizations I will be working with this year.  There is one more children's home called Dream.  Rachel and her husband started the home when children just continued showing up on their doorstep.  Now 49 children live there and Rachel is mom to all of them. It reminds me of the WinShape Home I worked at in the U.S. which is a nice little comfort for me.  Rachel is one of the warmest people I have ever met and she has an infectious smile.  Dream Children's Home is in Ngong and the surroundings are beautiful.
The home is a hike up the hill from this sign.

Dream Children's Home
Last Saturday the young adult team working with Dream coordinated a "Fun" Day for the kids.  People from the community were invited and it was just a day for everyone to be together and have fun, imagine that.  It is funny because a lot of the young adult teams have organized "Fun" Days.  I love the concept, so simple.  The afternoon was spent at a field down from the home where there were football matches, jump rope, and a game that resembled a combination of dodge ball and monkey in the middle.

"Fun" Day with all of the kids from Dream and people from the community.
There is one little boy living at Dream called Ryan.  He is suffering from stomach cancer and the first time I went out there he was laying on the couch just crying.  He looked like he was in so much pain, but it was clear that Rachel was doing everything in her power to care for him.  All I could do was just sit with him.  He had a toy car and we just spun the wheels round and round until he was giggling.  It was the sweetest sound.  He had just started his treatment which is being paid for by an organization from the states called Least of These.  Two weeks later, Ryan was outside playing with all of the other children.  He is gaining in strength each day and there is not doubt in my mind that it is due to the prayer and love from Rachel and her team.  He has a long way to go, but I will keep you all posted on his status.  Pray that his strength continues to grow and that Rachel can get him to eat more.  Another child that I met at Dream is called Ann.  She is a little firecracker, full of life and energy.  I hope to share more of her story soon.

Me with Ann and her little brother.
The other 2 organizations are centers that work with families in their communities who are struggling in various ways.  One is called Amazing Grace and they do emergency rescues for children in unsafe situations and work with their families to prevent the breaking up of a home.  They provide counseling services and work with a local church to provide food and other basic needs.  

Christian Women Works of Charity is in Kware slums, which is an area in Rongai not far from where I stay.  Mary is one of the original women who began CWWC and is well known in the community.  Her health is not great right now, so her daughter-in-law Maureen has stepped in to help run everything.

I have now been here for 2 weeks and I have started doing some Rosetta Stone to pick up on more swahili, but the things I am learning are pretty random so we will see how useful it is.  Each day I see something I wish I could capture for you all. Today was 6 goats in the backseat of a small sedan just driving down the road. Try to picture it- pretty funny.  I have a better idea now of what my job is so I am settling into real work.  I plan on taking some breaks from real work, though, and having sleepovers at some of the homes.  More updates to come. Thank you all for reading and keeping up with me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nyumba Ya Tumaini Visit

Yesterday I walked to Nyumba Ya Tumaini.  It is only about a 30 minute walk and it gives me a chance to explore my surroundings a little more.  I met with Isaya.  He is the manager there and has been there since it began 9 years ago.  The boys were all down the road at a christian camp that they all were able to attend on a scholarship.  Nyumba Ya Tumaini means Home of Hope.  It was the vision of a man named Ben and a friend of his in the UK.  It began as a feeding program for street boys in Nairobi.  The team started by just developing relationships with the boys and inviting them to eat at their church.  At first there was no mention of trying to change their lifestyle in terms of the drugs and stealing because the team knew the boys would not respond well to that.  They first wanted to create an environment of trust.  After a few months they had hundreds of people all ages coming to their feeding program each week and they really wanted to help the younger ones.  They felt that there was a greater chance of life change if they focused on the younger boys, so they kept the feeding program every Sunday for everyone, but added a day when the boys 12 years and younger could come and eat and hang out.  

Eventually, once the relationships were established, they got the home started and invited the boys to come and live there until they could be rehabilitated.  The goal is that the boys will be reintegrated back into their families.  It is a hard process because the boys will lie about their names and about where they came from because they do not want to go back or they are running from the police.  Also most boys are hooked on drugs so they suffer from terrible withdrawal.  They originally brought 30 boys and currently 18 boys live at the home.  At first it was violent and the boys were not in school.  The local schools did not want to admit street boys.  It is interesting to me how similar it is to the U.S. when people did not want a different race or ethnicity to move into their community.  That is how the community felt about these boys from the street coming into the neighborhood and into their schools.  Now things are good and all of the boys are enrolled in school.

Since the beginning eight boys have successfully returned to their families and Isaya continues to follow up with them.  Five boys received vocational training and are now on salary.  Two have become good farmers.  Two are on football scholarship.  This year they have their first candidate for the national exams, the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education.  Sixteen of the current boys have contact with their families right now.  Even with all of their success, they are struggling to make ends meet.  The young adult team from BTCKE is working with them on a couple of income generating projects and have done so much to engage the community to support Nyumba Ya Tumaini. I really enjoyed talking with Isaya.  He feels very called to his work and he believes that if he was not called there then he would have given up a long time ago.  That is my prayer for everyone (including myself)- that we can all find the work we are called to do and love doing it, even when it is difficult.

I did get to meet Oscar. He was one of the first boys that came to live at the home and he is finished with school and now helps at the home.  Through talking to him and listening to his story, it is evident that life on the streets is not something they like to relive and would rather be forgotten.  He is just one of so many that have lived through things I cannot even imagine.  His story is what breaks my heart and yet gives me hope at the same time.  I am really looking forward to returning to Tumaini when all of the boys are there and spending time with them.

This is the start of one of the income generating projects.

This building is where they cook right now, but will also eventually hold a library and a counseling room.

One of the bunk rooms.

                               The store where they keep all of their food.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One Week In

Well today will mark one week that I have been in Kenya.  I feel like I have done so much already.  I have gotten to meet many of the young adults that work with BTCKE and all of the directors of the partner organizations.  Everyone has been so wonderful.  I have even had a chance to meet some people working to start organizations to improve their communities.  Their stories are so powerful and I am so encouraged by their passion.

I wish I knew how to express how incredible the work is that the young adults are doing with their partner organizations.  They are truly going out into their communities and engaging them in the work to fight child poverty.  I am blown away by them and I just met them so I cannot wait to get to know them all better.

Today I overcame my fear of getting in a matatu, which is the public transportation.  It is an adventure to say the least, but it is completely doable.  I went to visit Huband Orphanage.  Huband is one of the organizations that BTCKE is working with this year.  I met with Irene.  She is the manager and does a fantastic job.  She works incredibly hard.  There are 32 children living at Huband.  They are all either orphaned, vulnerable (meaning their parents have HIV/AIDS), or from the streets.  There are 20 boys and 12 girls right now.  Luckily they were still on holiday so I got to meet most of them today or at least see them.  When I got there they were dancing and don't you worry I captured a short video clip that I will include along with a few pictures of the home.

Huband Orphanage

I will be visiting the rest of the organizations during this week as well.  Expect an update from each visit in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Karibu! (Welcome)

I am here!! I have now officially spent 2 nights in Kenya and I have slept so well.  The journey here was pretty uneventful and for that I am thankful.  I arrived pretty late Tuesday night, so we spent the first night in Nairobi and then came out to the house in Rongai yesterday morning.  Apparently it can take 30 minutes to 3 hours to get out here depending on traffic! They are working on building a new road and its supposed to be done in March, but we shall see.  I spent yesterday with my new friend Ken, who works for Be The Change- Kenya.  He was a trooper to take me to the store and help me get settled in and he even brought me with him to a meeting at one of the organizations I will be working with this year.  I won't begin my official work duties until next week so for now I am just getting used to everything and tagging along on things when I can.

My friend Ken Chomba
The house I am living in is a home/office for BTCKE.  When I got here, my other new friend Beatrice was here to welcome me and it was the greatest welcome I have ever received.  She had my room completely decorated with signs and streamers.  I will put a few pictures on here and more will come on facebook later.  I already feel so at home here.  This is just a quick update to let you all know that I am safe and excited to be here.  Once I begin my work, I will spend more time explaining what I am doing.  
Me with Beatrice
My fun new room!
Thank you all for your continued prayer and support! It seriously means the world to me and I will probably continue to say that over and over again.