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January 12, 2024: Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya

Our time in Kenya is quickly ending, and with it, our January 2024 Seven Hills Global Outreach trip to West and East Africa is nearly concluded. We jump on our plane in Nairobi at midnight tomorrow and begin a long trip back to Amsterdam and eventually to Boston, Massachusetts, and home. We’ve been away from family and loved ones longer than the nine days spent in Africa. However, we still have much to do tomorrow before we conclude our work here in Kibera.

Much of the morning was spent at the Kenyan Ministry of Health with my Kenyan partner, Reverend Samuel Kariuki. For the past two years, I’ve been working with various ministries within the Kenyan government to find a pathway to bring hundreds of university students from Kenya to the United States to work in our many Seven Hills Foundation programs. Both the Minister of Commerce here and the Minister of Health whom we met with this week have signaled their support of this initiative and have assured me that they would be asking the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek approval from the US State Department to grant special visa status for up to 150 Kenyan students per year for three years to travel to the United States in support of our health and human services work at Seven Hills. This will require much planning and scrutiny by our state department, but I remain cautiously optimistic that we will find a way to achieve this initiative.

Following our meeting with the Minister of Health, we traveled with Pastor Kariuki, Roman Kariuki, and their FOCUS Dream Center colleagues to their primary school of 180 children in grades one through six in a rural suburb of Nairobi. We’ve supported this FOCUS school for the past three years, and seeing its growth and impact on small children was a reward for us all. We then traveled to the second FOCUS facility we’ve supported in the past - their certified nursing assistant training college for young Kenyans interested in working in the healthcare professions. Over 100 students were waiting for us as they prepared for their final exam tomorrow afternoon. We heard testimony from many of the young people on the value of this program and participated in the award of financial scholarships to several students. Many students asked if they could come to America and work for Seven Hills Foundation upon graduation. I could only respond by saying that this was also my dream and that we were working with the Kenyan and United States governments to determine if this was feasible. We experienced a rare yet powerful rainstorm in Nairobi, flooding many streets and localities. This time of the year in Kenya is usually quite dry and hot, and the rain has been a bit of a surprise to everyone. Nonetheless, it helped cool things off, and I hope it will make for a clear and sunny day tomorrow.

On Saturday, we will visit the children of the Kibera-Bethel school once more before we begin our way back to the United States. It will be a melancholy visit, as we have all become so close to these vulnerable children who, through a circumstance of fate, were born in and are growing up within Africa’s largest slum district. It’s difficult to describe life in Kibera, a community of over 500,000 people living within one square mile, jammed together in makeshift tin houses, doing whatever they can to make a living. I’ve been coming to Kibera with my Clark University students and Seven Hills staff for over a decade, and each visit offers another glimpse at how resilient people can be living in some of the most extreme circumstances imaginable.

Our time in Sierra Leone and Kenya has been a memorable and emotionally impactful experience for all. We’ve met people and children from different backgrounds but with whom we share many of the same dreams and hopes for our lives. I want to thank my traveling colleagues Andy, Sunday, Brian, Patrick, Grover & Nancy (on our Sierra Leone leg), and my former student and Clark alum Tracy Graham for their unique perspectives, insights, and openness they’ve brought to the many people we’ve come to know. I hope that our many yearly trips to our global partners in developing parts of the world have made a difference in the lives we’ve touched. What I am sure of is the difference they have made upon us. Our

efforts in providing healthcare services, schools, public health through our many clean water wells and sanitation facilities, and economic development initiatives have—I pray— helped to “challenge convention and change the world.” Tomorrow night, I’ll post my final update on our efforts here in Africa, and so until then, I wish you all a peaceful and relaxing evening.

Dr. David A Jordan

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