I'm just saying, there is something awesome about staying with a family when traveling. These people are so kind and welcoming. Much more soft spoken than we are tho, so I'm hoping our loud chaos hasn't disrupted their life too much...=) They are friends of Linda and Paul and also on the board for Ripples International where we will be spening most of our time.
Some things that are different?
the shower--ask Isaac, apparently I'm not the swiftest with understanding the workings of this thing. But, eventually I got it.
Our driver, Martin, picked us up and patiently took us around.
When traveling one needs to always go with the flow right?
Well, as we headed in to town into the "slums" (different definition than the American one) Isaac discovered he did not bring the battery to his camera. Of all things to not have along. THIS IS BIG!!
One of the main reasons he came was to take photos for a multitude of reasons. It's his passion. This is a problem. So we stopped at a camera store...long story short, we think we've found a solution and can buy a new battery tomorrow. But, he had no camera today (Thursday). That was a little hard for him.
As we approched Mathare-- part of Nairobi, we immediately noticed the poverty and harsh conditions. And immediately saw our first street boys. We happened to have suckers and some snacks for ourselves that we started tossing out the window (stuck in traffic). This is one of those moments when you "hear" about something sad and hard but seeing it face to face was heartbreaking. One of the boys was carrying a plastic bottle in his teeth with something yellow at the bottom and walking around with it. Linda and Paul told us he was sniffing glue just walking the street. Somehow tossing suckers out to them seems so simplistic. But, it was almost as if we didn't know what else to do in that moment.
Here is Lucas handing them some suckers.
Eventually we arrived at the orphanage. Just driving up to it was shocking. Dirt roads, and ditches filled with sewage and garbage. We were limited with picture taking because we needed to have the windows open and there was risk someone would reach in and grab our camera.
Once we got to the orphanage we saw some of the harshest conditions I've ever seen, yet, the kids were so excited to see us. I wish I would have been ready to take a picture of the kids sitting on the dirt floor eating their bowls of rice and beans. But, it hit me so hard that I was "speechless"--and almost could not move. I almost began to sob unconrollably. I really had to choke back the tears.
We learned the orphanage was started with one lady named Mama Mercy finding a boy on the street named John in 1991 at the age of 9. She brought him in because her son used to play with him and asked his mom if they could start taking care of him. So for a year he slept in a chicken coop because she had no other room. By 1993 she started building 3 rooms and the rest is history as the orphanage grew. It now holds 240 kids. But, she is really only has a handful of people helping her.
More on John a little later.
Of course Lucas made his connections right away...as can be seen here.
Mama Mercy is on the right with the huge grin looking at Lucas. They were playing together.
I think the kids thought Lucas was insane. They were all just staring at him.
This is one of the youngest ones there. His name is Daniel.
We walked into this place with our expectations for how children "should" be treated and what their living conditions "should" be like. Well, those were all blown to pieces. Yet, the reality is...it is what it is for them. They know no different as we have learned from our friend John.
Mama Mercy was certain to tell us her priority is education. So over time she has gathered enough donors to be certain that every child gets an education. That means each one gets approximately $250-$500 per year paid to make sure they get that. This includes all materials and uniforms which are required. Education is EVERYthing to her. I believe they feel it is their "ticket" out and for a successful life. And the kids know it too. They value it. I just shake my head at how our kids often take that stuff so for granted.
Before we left we circled up and prayed with the staff. Such an amazing moment of prayer and they were so grateful to have us there. They feel as if they are often "forgotten". This is not an area that gets visted by westerners at all.
We were just flat out humbled. No other words really.
I leave here thinking...
All God's Children