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Youth Kenya Mission Trip, Day 3

Youth Kenya Mission Trip, Day 3 by Lauren Zuravel

I never thought I would be taught by school children on how to love learning.

Today we visited the Kariobangi Skills Center & Schools where we saw the different ways that people can gain a skill so they can come out of the vicious cycle of poverty that grips so many of the people in the slums. Sewing clothes, welding, plumbing, hair & beauty, cooking, electrical work, IT, and teaching are just a few of the vital skills taught at this center to young people looking for a better life for them and their families. After completing a course, these inspiring men and women will find clients in their community and hopefully make enough money to feed their families and one day move away from the slums. We saw where they made the school uniforms and some of us even baked a chocolate cake (which we all got to taste!). We were all lucky enough to spend time in one of the skills programs, and while beauty school and welding seemed really cool, I chose to spend my day with the children in their school (5yrs-5th grade). At every classroom we went in, I was amazed at how bright and well behaved these students were. Even in the 1st grade, they were able to recite in unison multiple bible verses, sing songs, and each classroom we stopped by clapped for us and made us feel like royalty. There was even one classroom where the children could recite 10 bible version without stopping. I was utterly amazed at how much these children loved God and loved learning not only about reading, writing, and mathematics, but also about the word of God.

Right before we left the skills center, I sat in on a math class for 4th graders. Even though we were strange and interesting visitors, all eyes were on the teacher, and their attention never wavered. When the teacher asked a question, all the students were bursting with anticipation and excitement with the hope that they would be called on to give the class the answer. I have never seen more attentive students before who not only strived to do their best in school, but also loved the process of learning, not just the end result.

After we left the Skills Center we arrived at the Bondeni School for my first time. As soon as we pulled in the driveway, we could hear children singing and we were greeted with a very impressive dance perfectly choreographed
and cheerful singing that melted all of our hearts. For children who have grown up with very little material things, they are by far the happiest, sweetest, and most outgoing children I have every seen before. It was clear after about the first 30 seconds of arriving at the school that every penny that was donated to build that school was worth it. To think that the creation of this school has transformed the lives of these children and their families gives me hope for the millions of people living in these slums.

Finally, we did some home visits in the Mathare slum. My group went to 2 different homes, and each one was a remarkable experience. No matter how many pictures I have seen of the slums, there is nothing that can prepare you for actually walking through them and especially going into the peoples’ homes. The smell is like a mixture of raw sewage, livestock, and smoke. The sights of stray animals living alongside humans in cramped living quarters was astounding, as was the enormous amounts of trash laying everywhere. After walking through the slums, we arrived at a woman’s house. Her name was Mama Uglda and had been burned recently on her leg. She has several children, her husband does not have steady work, and she must travel to the clinic everyday for burn treatments at a great cost to her entire family who depends on her. While the main purpose of the visit was to let Mama Uglda learn more about God, I ended up learning even more about the far reaching effects of faith from her resilience and hospitality to strangers.

We visited one more house during our time in the slums to a couple whose names were Charles and Rhoda. Charles had previously left Rhoda before coming back to her and their 2 children who have learning disabilities. Rhoda praised Missions of Hope because her children were able to be properly diagnosed with their learning disorders so that they could finally get they help they needed to succeed. Right before we were about to pray for their family, Charles asked if he could be born again and start going to church. It was amazing to see this man put his trust in Jesus as we prayed for this man and his family, even though they couldn’t understand what we were saying, since they only spoke Swahili. You could truly see that the Holy Spirit was working inside of this man to bring him to Christ.

Even though walking through the slums and visiting the classrooms only offered a glimpse of what it is really like to live in extreme poverty, it was clear that I had much to learn from these people. While they have nothing, they rejoice in the Lord, they put their trust in Him, even when they don’t know how they will feed their families the next day. May we all be able to learn from their intense love of learning about God and translate that into our own lives.