Yesterday was a full day if travel from Sierra Leone to Kenya. Everyone is well with the exception of the cold and cough we’ve picked up along the way. We would not trade the minor discomforts for any of the experiences we’ve been part of with our partners in Sierra Leone and in Kenya. Early this morning we traveled to Kibera - the largest slum in East Africa containing 800,000 of desperately poor people in 1 square mile of rutted, ramshackle land scattered with
tiny tin houses one against the other.
In 2014 I met an amazing woman in Kibera named Mary Abinda who began a school within the slum for small children. Today, her school educates over 350 children in a few classrooms constructed of sticks to hold up tin walls and a roof. I thought back then that she must be a living saint and that belief was rekindled today when she embraced me when we walked into the school area. It's impossible for me to describe the conditions in which she and her barely-paid staff care for for the children with few supplies and no equipment of any kind. The photos attached do not do justice to the circumstances she and the children live in. Yet, we were - as we always are in our SHGO work - warmly welcomed. The older children have been practicing for over one month several Kenyan traditional dances, kept time by a student playing remarkable drums with 2 sticks of tree branches and 3 yellow plastic buckets. As we were being entertained by the students I could not help but feel both the joy and the pain of the experience. ‘Joy’ in seeing them present us this beautiful gift of dance they’ve worked so hard to perfect in advance of our arrival and ‘pain’ in knowing that their circumstances could not be remedied and that the lives of these small kids were most probably linked to this desperate place for the rest of their lives.
I’ve seen poverty and despair all over the world in this work we do, but nothing has moved me as much knowing a quick fix is impossible. What we can do, however, is offer the children school supplies like pencils, paper, and books - and most needed, food! The children are drawn to Mary Abinda’s Bethel School each day because they are promised one meal of rice and fish. It's that meal that sustains them all day; one bowl of rice and a little fish. Since 2014, we at Seven Hills have provided Mary and the children of Bethel School in Kibera small annual funds to help pay for the rice offered to the children, but so much more is needed. I hope if anyone reading this blog and views the photos attached and is moved - please consider a small monetary gift to SHGO dedicated to the children of Kibera. You can read more about Kibera on Google.
Tomorrow, we travel an hour outside the city of Nairobi to our second of 3 Kenyan partners; the FOCUS Dream Center orphanage run by our good friend, Pastor Samuel Kariuki. More on that tomorrow.
One of our SHGO team on this trip earlier this evening said to me, “If our Seven Hills staff could only see what we (SHGO) are doing for the world's poorest kids, any doubt in their minds would vanish”. I can’t force people to know about or even agree with our global efforts but I can say that what small gestures we do in 8 developing corners of the globe make all the difference to the 23,000 lives we touch out here. Thank you, again to our Sierra Leone - Kenyan SHGO travel team of Carmen Wise, Isaac Croteau, and Peter Demko for sharing these experiences; they have been nothing but spectacular to have along. More updates tomorrow.
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Dr. David A. Jordan