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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

April 2012

Hello again from Nairobi. Here's some of what we've been up to lately, and some stories from our relief work.

Having Chai in a traditional Masai Home
If there is one thing I can tell you about seeing poverty day in and day out, its that you don’t get used to it.  This is a level of poverty you don’t understand until you see it, until you smell it and hear it.  Until you sit in a house pieced together with whatever resources are available, plastic bags, scrap metal sheeting, pieces of bush etc, and share a cup of chai (tea) with someone who has nothing, until you experience it like this, you don’t even begin to understand.
The stories never get easier to hear.  The desperation and what I can only describe as the deepest sadness I have ever seen in someones eyes, the pure hopelessness and despair, it never gets common.  Each story has its unique elements, but they all have similar elements as well. The husband has died, usually of AIDS, often one or more child has passed away, they have no food, they cant get medicine, school is almost always out of the question.  Often its the grandparents or other extended family raising a number of children from various deceased parents. And then their are the families were its children caring for children, with no adults to be found. Heart wrenching. Somehow, we are called to be here.  We are called to bring the love and hope of God, as we deliver food and other basic needs.  We are called in the long run to build a place for widows and orphans to live in community with each other.  There will be food, medicine, education, vocational training, Christian education,  a real sense of family, belonging, and safety!
Back in November we had a day in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, arguably the most populated and condensed slum in the world, where we were delivering Christmas Hampers to some really desperately needy families.  Its a day Jennifer and I will not soon forget, as we were attacked at gunpoint at the end of the day.  Our camera was stolen, and I was physically attacked.  But what really stands out from that day are the families we delivered food, some household staples like soap and mosquito nets, most importantly HOPE to. We went into one ladies home, she is a widow with two young children.  She tries to eke out some kind of living selling random items in a small kiosk.  
We travel well off the beaten path to get to these homes.
They are always welcoming & very proud to host us.
We had to walk deep into the slum, around so many corners, down a steep hill, in mud mixed with human and dog waste, garbage, and stagnant smelly water.  It was rainy season, and the walking was tough, especially when you consider we were carrying 100 pounds worth of food etc for her. When we got to her home, we had to carefully enter as there were rusty nails and sheets of corrugated tin holding her “home” together.  I mean, this is a place no human should be.  She lives there. They eat their meals here.  They lay down to go to sleep here. I am not exaggerating when I say you would not allow your dog to go there.  This dear woman, doing her best to provide for her children, she beamed with pride as she told us we were the first visitors she has ever had.  She was so honored we would want to visit her where she lives.  That we would go to her.  I was humbled and broken by this.  God help us help them!

The new 4X4 purchased with
funds donated by generous Canadians.
 We can't do our work without this!
We have also been going to a very needy Masai community about an hour and a half out of Nairobi.  Our connection to that community, Jeremy, took us to a family recently that was well, off the grid! As we were bouncing along at a crawl over dried river beds, through thick brush, and around huge boulders, he told us  that this family where we were going is extremely poor.  He told us he had often grazed his animals in the area, but it was tough to get to.  He then mentioned that he had never seen a vehicle there.  It was rough going, but we made it, thanks to the great 4X4 provided by the generosity of some of you great people back in Canada. 

Milton.  He's a very polite young man, and
very proud of his education.
To give you some perspective on the isolation of this place, let me tell you about Milton. Milton is between 18-20 years old.  His english is not too bad, and he was really excited to tell us he was in school.  When asked what he is studying, he looked a little confused.  Milton is in 7th grade, and proud of it.  What’s that all about? Well, the school is a long walk for the kids, and because of the leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and buffalo in the area, its not safe for young children to go to school.  So, when they are older, and know how to handle themselves in the wild, they go to school if possible.  Quite often, the children are needed to care for the animals, so school       takes back seat to that. 
When we arrived at their homestead, we were greeted warmly. (Except for the children who had never seen white people, certainly not close up, they were terrified of us). The ladies in this home get up before the sun every morning, and walk two hours each way for the days supply of water.  For an income, they sell any extra milk the goats and cows produce, but its been really dry up until recently, and there is a milk shortage in the whole country. They live in traditional Masai homes, made of mud, cow dung and skinny twisted trees that grow in the area. We presented them with a hamper of food, and visited with them in their “home” over some chai.  Jeremy, our guide in this community, his community, told us the milk had been obtained from the cow that morning, and the water gained from the 4 hour walk. Jeremy had told them we were coming, and they went as all out as they could, giving us milk, water and tea from their extremely scarce supply.  I was again struck with how proud they were that we would come and visit with them, and how determined they were to be good hosts.  The IMPACT of these encounters, and we have way too many to share with you, never gets old. It hits me every time. We prayed with them, blessed them, and encouraged them.  Then we left, having been made a little better by the hospitality of these dear people.  
None of these stories would be possible, were it not for the generosity of people like you.  We need your continued support to continue, and to grow this important outreach to the desperately needy in Kenya. We want to thank you. I mean, THANK YOU!!!! You really are making a difference.  We also want to invite you! Come, see what a difference your dollars are making, and be a part of how it happens, right here in Africa. You can do it, and we invite you to come and prove it!