We are currently busy at our final outreach point of this 80 day journey. With just 4 days to go, I cannot believe that we are now so close to the end. The last few weeks had gone by so quickly, yet if I think about everything we had experienced and about every person we have met, it feels like a lifetime.
The South2North team spent the past week in Nyalenda slum, near Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city. It is situated on the shore of Lake Victoria. We arrived by train in Kisumu on Thursday morning, where Frank, Paul and Joshua waited for us. The rest of team squashed into Frank’s car while I went with Paul on the back of his piki-piki (motor bike). Riding on the back of a motor cycle through Kisumu was really an enjoyable experience. On the way to Nyalenda I reflected on how lucky I am to be here again… It is now my second time to Kisumu, and I have met Paul, Joshua and Frank when I did a MOTE outreach to Maisha International Orphange in June 2010. That outreach played a big part in me being here now, and I am grateful for the opportunity to see old friends again.
Since we knew that we were going to stay in a slum, we expected the living conditions and our accommodation to be challenging. We were pleasantly surprised… We stayed in two proper houses in the Abom-family compound. Even though the surrounding areas were really bad, we were comfortable.
Maisha International Orphanage is located just outside Kisumu where they are running a program for orphans, widows and people infected with HIV. So far the project has been very succesful and they are now in the process of duplicating their efforts in Nyalenda.
In the five days we spent there we helped the Maisha staff with home-based care for HIV infected people. We visited about three houses per day, helping out with various things around the house such as washing clothes, cooking and cleaning. It had been one of the most draining weeks I had experienced on this trip. Many of the people were living in terrible conditions, abandoned by family, friends and society because of the stigma associated with HIV/Aids. For the first time in my life It really struck me what it means to have nothing – not even R2 to buy a bag of beans with…
We heard many sad stories this week. The one that touched me most was that of twenty five year old Margaret Juma. Margaret lost her father before she was born. At the age of three she also lost her mother. Due to a growth problem, both her legs were amputated at age four. She had a very tough life and faced continous rejection. Despite all these challenges she persevered and completed her diploma in Beauty Therapy. But in 2009 a horrifying thing happened… On the way back from her friends wedding she was raped by multiple men and contracted HIV. Upon hearing that story I felt an intense anger. What kind of monster rapes a women without legs? I asked God why one person has to endure that much suffering…
Despite all this, and even though she has almost no food to eat and is about to be kicked out of her home because of unpaid rent of a R1200, she still trusts God. She still knows He has a plan with her life… She fully understands that in her trusting Him, lies a testimony that can influence other people.
We used our final two days in Nyalenda for a mass environmental clean-up action… This was a big challenge. Nyalenda is an extremely dirty place, people simply throw all their rubbish on the dirt roads in front of their homes. In the rainy season these dirt roads turn to mud and the rubbish (consisting mostly of plastic bags) gets mixed into the road. This makes it almost impossible to clean-up with conventional methods. At first I was quite frustrated. The first day we worked on an area in front of a school. Our task seemed so futile… There was so much rubbish, it felt as if it was impossible for 10 people to make a difference. The school children standing next to the fence, laughing at us, did not help. But then something happened that made it all worthwhile… Some of the kids asked for gloves and started working with us! It was amazing to see! The next day when we cleaned the market area… the same thing happened! Many people stopped with their daily activities and helped to clean their community. I was really blessed by this and I pray that the people of Nyalenda will think twice before they just dump their rubbish in the street…
So far we have had an amazing time here at Maisha International Orphanage – more than that in my next post! Today is officially our last day of ministry, and tomorrow we are starting our journey back to Dar es Salaam from where we will fly back to SA on Sunday. Please pray for traveling mercies as we complete this 80 day journey. Thank you for reading!
Hendre and the South2North Team
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