Wall of Hope

i’ve officially completed my first week at Marurui!  What a week it has been. . .

I started off the week strong, so excited to be working with the kids, a little nervous as to what I was doing or what I would be teaching, but also excited for what I would be learning during my time there! And I’ve definitely learned a lot.

For Example. .

Letting a child blow their nose with toilet paper is ridiculous

There are more people living in the city of Nairobi than there is in B.C. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined

Bringing sweets to school is everyone’s favourite day 😉

Some of the teachers travel upwards of an hour by public transport or walking to be at school on time

These are just some of the things I’m learning, and as I get to know each and every child better I learn more about each individual situation, different struggles, different victories, each one has a unique story.  And each one of them you fall in love with equally.  I love being able to go to the school every day, and while I know there is much more for me to see than just Marurui I think this was the perfect starting point.  I know the stakes are only getting higher at each new place I’m going to visit but for now, this is a school and a situation at a size I can wrap my brain around.  What Gary and Brenda are doing here is wonderful.  They are trying to make sure that each child in the school’s they have established as well as in the other slums they don’t yet have a school in, are sponsored to be able to go to a school that is safe and receive and education.  They want nothing more than to know that these kids have faithful, long term donors supporting these children through their whole education because let’s be honest, there’s no price you can really put on a child’s education, especially not for what it means here in Kenya.  Access to a good education here means they have a chance at a good paying job, breaking the cycle of poverty for their family and being free of sickness and disease that comes with living in slums. For so many of these kids, it means hope.  I have visited with Brenda at different times about their schools and the work they are doing through their schools. One thing she shared that I won’t soon be able to forget is this, “My heart breaks, when one of those students are sponsored, they’re doing so well in class, they are grateful to be off the street and in a classroom, and then for whatever reason that I can’t speculate or judge, their sponsor pulls out because they can no longer afford too and that child has to return back to their homes, to the slum, to the drugs or alcohol or whatever trouble they might get into, all because school fees couldn’t be paid”. While this fact alone was enough to stir something inside of me, I instantly thought back to the school I’ve been teaching in, to the children in my classroom.  They aren’t even my own children and yet the heart ache I felt at the thought of any one of them being back on the street, in the slum, in trouble, hungry and on their own, I knew this wasn’t a topic I was going to be able to leave alone.

In the guest house where I have been living, every day when I come down stairs for breakfast and my morning cup of coffee, there is a wall in the living room. This wall has the words “Wall of Hope” written on it. Beneath these words are pictures of 4 dozen or more children.  These are all pictures of children living in slums, of children who need to sponsors to be able to receive this incredible gift of education.  I asked one of the girls living in the office one day to share with me more about this wall of hope and she told me they were all kids, young and old who needed sponsors to be able to get into the school, in whatever slum they were living in but how she finished her explanation will always stick with me, she said, “this is only some of them though, last time I counted we had 117 kids that needed to be sponsored.”.  One hundred, and seventeen kids.  One hundred and seventeen young people, somehow stuck in this world of the slums that they’ve been brought into, waiting for a sponsor to help them receive an education that truly goes so far beyond just going to school and could provide them with the leg up they need to get out of these conditions.  To these kids it means so much more than just “going to school”.  As I visit with Brenda more and pray about the situation these kids are in and how to change it, I hope to come to a point where I fully understand the system Brenda has for sponsorship and from there be able to ask people like you to come along side of her in this mission, agreeing to love on one child, or two children, or whatever that looks like for you, to give this gift of an education that goes so far beyond just learning what there is to be taught in a school.

While my above statement of “faithful, long term sponsors” may be intimidating, it’s not meant to be! As my conversations with Brenda continue I hope to find a fool proof way that many of you can be involved in the sponsorship program without the fear of what it could mean if you were no longer able to support a child. These are some of the finer details I wish to be able to understand from Brenda to be able to provide you all with practical ways you can be a part of putting a child through school.

This is the beginning of some of the things that are on my heart constantly and the things I want to share with you and want you to be a part of. I can’t tell you enough how it feels being in a classroom full of children, one sitting beside you reading the Bible to you in english, another sitting on your lap listening and helping her fellow student when he stumbles over words, hearing another child in the back of the room sing “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. . ” hearing children down the hall singing along to the alphabet with their teacher, knowing that right in this moment, this is one of the greatest opportunities of my life, because I’m apart of an amazing opportunity in their lives.

As I leave the school every day and walk down the street of the slum to the clinic and day care, I see so many other children walking around, lost, with not much purpose, looking at my feet as I walk, red dust staining my shoes, I walk to avoid garbage on the street, with the smell of burning garbage drifting throughout the slum, I know there is still so much to be done for these people. But for now at least, I am happy knowing that I’m doing something for the few kids in that classroom and hope that I can continue to be apart of the change, be a part of this gift of hope, for so many others as well.

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