I needed to write SOMETHING. Been writing more music with a great friend, jackie. she is coming to rochester in may! 😀 Can’t wait to show her the sites and whatnot. She and i spent saturday exploring ngong hills, pizza inn and mamba village crocodile farm. wheee. Note to self: when discussing dangerous animals, if a friend says, “my cousin was eaten by a hippo” dont laugh. even if he says, “it was my favor-ite (pronounced flavor-ight) cousin and it was really sad!” its not funny at all.
The past two days have been physically and emotionally exhausting. I visited two slums–kware in embakasi and kibera. And i saw poverty as it exists here, maybe the worst in the world today.
I was warned about kibera by lots of people and it actually wasnt as bad as i expected it to be–except the longer we walked (maybe 20 km today in all) and the bigger i realized it was…the more overwhelming it was. My guide was one of my students–he lives there and loves it (since he is a student and its so cheap). I stopped talking (i know, right?) after the first 20 minutes..just thinking about ways to help. and after all the thinking, i didnt come up with one idea (rare) except prayer.
today a man told me not to profit from the photos i was taking since “there are 300 NGO’s and 8 billion goes to them and where is it?” Kibera, he said, never gets better but the ngos get bigger cars and houses…and thats all…i agreed with him when he said “we are not animals” and promised that i take pictures like that everywhere, even in my own town, but that i wouldnt take his since he felt so strongly.
there’s no bathrooms and no showers and there are millions of people. there’s kids digging in trash and flies swarming. in kware, which i think was worse than kibera but not as big…there are mountains of trash (we hiked the lofty peaks) and huge pigs all over the place. (ill post photographs later). then there are children who come to church too tired to stand, who keep falling over and lying down on benches to sleep since they’re too hungry to listen or worship.
broke my heart, all of it. sure, i knew it’d be bad, but its just so unbelievable. anyway, it got me thinking about gifts.
being born where you were born, in the time period you were born in is what, 1 in a bazillion chance? Life’s not fair–but i’ll never complain about it not being in my favor again–in my case not fair was a blessing.
Some might say that no matter where you’re born, you control your own future and destiny and I have to disagree. a.) some kids dont learn to read or even think for themselves..they dont know how to problem solve or consider options. b.) some kids are so deprived that there is literally no way out. c.) some kids die before they’re 10 because they’re so hungry or neglected.
Some might say that while God places us in specific places, we can still help ourselves. And those who try hardest or dont give up will succeed.
“I work hard for what i have.” Right. A great work ethic is a gift from God, a good mind is a gift (i study less than lots of people and my grades are better than theirs are.) Even our willingness to try comes from something HE put in us! So today i was humbled, knowing these unfortunate souls are people exactly like me but in serious discomfort and sadness.
tomorrow i will not teach for my first time–i gave the class an assignment and think it will be better if i am not there so they STOP ASKING ME QUESTIONS about things that are obviously on the instructions. today i brought candy to throw and people actually participated. this is what it takes i suppose.
i never realized one of my students is a.) a pastor b.) a student all day from 10:30-1:00 (takes forever to get to and from class on top of it…) and c.) a night watchman. HOW DOES HE DO IT?! he lives right next to his church and misses his wife who cant stay in the 10 by 10 room…today in class i gave him candy even though he struggled to get stuff right and he looked tired (as tired as i felt after the visit yesterday) and he said, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU and we all laughed. still..
the Sunday meeting involved getting downtown on a matatu by 9AM and getting to embakasi by 10:30 (more like 11.) I found out i was teaching the kids for the day which was awesome, esp. adlibbing and finishing and seeing them do songs/poems. (got a video of it). the 7 year olds who werent falling over were quite alert and led worship.
the church where we met is where we will start a school (more on it later). We had a meeting to discuss the program directly after church (so almost 2)..and it involved all of us splitting one loaf of white bread for lunch (fllllies) and realizing that we cant afford to start a primary school (books/desks/plates and pots and pans are expensive) but we can start a nursery asap. That way at least 4-5 year olds will be fed a meal daily. Encouraging (school for 4-5 year olds!) and discouraging (what about the 6 year old orphans?) all at once. And overwhelming doesn’t begin to describe it. I just know that i have a new respect for the pastor/soon to be headmaster and cant believe he can live there and serve the way he does every single day.
since people come over to my apt til late every night i dont think much about what i see during the day. sometimes i watch lost and make a point of not remembering the kids faces/etc. today and yesterday were the hardest, as i said. When i think about it all later, i can have a good cry..long time coming, really.