January 12, 2023
January 12 - Nairobi, Kenya
Yesterday, January 11, was a half day of travel from Sierra Leone in West Africa to Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa. We arrived in Nairobi and immediately spent time visiting 3 of the program sites of our principle , FOCUS Dream Center. We’ve partnered with FOCUS since 2015 in their efforts providing early child care and vocational training to those in desperate need. One initiative they have launched is in starting a program training Certified Nursing Assistants; an occupation category which is relatively new in Kenya but one we hope might lead to the recruitment of employees for Seven Hills Foundation in MA and RI.
Today we rose early to meet with both the Kenyan Ministry of Health as well as the wife of the Vice President of Kenya; “Second Lady” of the country. In both meetings we discussed possible ways in which we might collaborate to bring Kenyan college graduates to Seven Hills under a work-study initiative. The intention is to fill available job opportunities available throughout our various affiliates and we in turn would assist the participants to pursue advanced educational opportunities through the Seven Hills tuition assistance program over a 36 month period. If successful, this would assist in our employment efforts while offering Kenyan youth job experience in America and, after returning to Kenya 36 months later, augment their employability prospects within the Kenyan healthcare sector. Both meetings were graciously received with an agreement that we would jointly pursue the required US visas necessary.
It was in the afternoon that our time here was truly worth the long flights, cold showers, and lack of sleep. We traveled to our long cherished SHGO partner, Bethel School, embedded in the heart of the largest slum in the whole of the African continent - Kibera. Kibera is home to 500,000 people within a 1 square mile area. Open sewers, cramped tin huts, and a seemingly endless number of children make up Kibera. Since 2013 I have been coming to Kibera to visit with our SHGO partner, Mary Abinda, and the Bethel School she established for the very poorest children. Bethel School supports approximately 200 children in grades 1-3. Over the tin structure which makes up the school has begun to collapse and it’s now imperative that we tear it down and replace the school with a new structure made of cement blocks. Through 2 years of fundraising we’ve raised the financing through donors and hope to start construction of a new Bethel this April. It’s quite difficult to explain the depth of poverty which permeates all of Kibera, and yet, there exists a sense of joy among the people who call this place home. Once completed, this new school with house 10 - 12 large classrooms on 2 floors, a small feeding kitchen, and a teachers preparation room. I encourage anyone who might read this blog to google ‘Kibera’ , Nairobi, Kenya. The photos available on-line only approximate the true conditions on the ground.
After a long day we ended late this evening with a small meal followed by our nightly reading and sharing of each others most significant memory of the day - our “pearl”. Several in our team recalled meeting with the ‘second lady’ of the country in the Vice Presidents home. For me, it was meeting Mary Abinda once again after 3 years. This lovely older woman with a significant deformity in her leg embraced and it was as if we had never parted years ago. She is. , by any measure, a “saintly” woman who has - despite her physical challenge- devoted herself to the needs of children. Being with her once more after several years reminded me of the purpose of life ; to love and support others.
Tomorrow we start early once again with Isaac, Marissa, Andy, Peter and I traveling to Children's Garden Orphanage , started many years ago by an orphan named Moses. Today it is home to well over 350 orphaned children and is a wonder to behold. Children’s Garden has been partially supported by SHGO for the past 10 years. Follow us tomorrow as we continue our 2023 SHGO humanitarian trip through Sierra Leone and Kenya supporting hundreds of children and women AND our Seven Hills employees originally from these developing countries.
Dr David A Jordan ( Dr J)