While I am still a little behind with my journaling, here are a few more installments from my trip. We are leaving tonight for Mombasa - a city on the coast of Kenya - for two days so I won't be able to give updates for a few days, but you can look forward to some more thoughts from Kenya soon. The end of our trip is soon and coming, and I am looking forward to coming home to see family and friends.
Friday, July 20th:
On Friday we spent the day visiting World Relief and their projects in Nairobi. 7 of the 10 of our team members are involved with World Relief in the States, doing relocation of refugees, so it seemed appropriate to visit the organization in Kenya.
Interestingly enough, World Relief Kenya had little to do with refugees and a lot to do with those suffering from HIV/AIDS. For part of our visit we split into three small groups and visited a number of individuals around Nairobi with HIV/AIDS. My group, Becca, Dorothy, and I visited a 12 year old girl named Esther.
Esther lives in a fairly nice house with her grandmother, younger sister, and older sister. Her mom died of HIV in 2000 and she later discovered that she also had the infection. We learned that earlier in the week she had gone in for 56 shots (doing this once a month) as part of her treatment. We also learned that she is too weak to even walk 1.5 miles to and from school every day, so for the last two weeks she has not been able to go to school (she is in the 4th grade). Their hope is that she can go to a boarding school for HIV positive children where she can get the treatment, care, and education she needs. Apart from her infection, Esther is an amazing girl. She has a beautiful smile (even though she is very shy) and she loves what other kids in Kenya love - football, drawing, church, Sunday school, her family, and animals - hens, goats, and cows. She wants to go to beauty school some day and be a hair dresser like her older sister. I will pray for Esther and the 500 other men and women with this terrible disease connected with World Relief in Kenya, a disease that is terrorizing Africa (6,500 people die every day in Africa from AIDS; 150,000 every month - this equal to the number of people that died in the Tsunami).
After these visits we had tea and Mandazi at the HIV testing office, and headed to the offices of Youth For Christ Kenya. Here we met and learned a lot about a group of ten 18-24 year-olds who have traveled to over 90 secondary schools (high schools) teaching abstinence, character education, and faithfulness in marriage as a way to prevent HIV/AIDS and unplanned pregnancy. This group being partnered with World Relief (and thus our visit), YFC also sends evangelism teams and Discipleship teams all over Kenya to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. May the Lord Bless their work.
Saturday, July 21st:
On Saturday we sat in on two 2 hour sessions on Peace and Development Talks in Africa. They were lectures from two adults connected with Peace Point, an organization connected with Shalom House. One of the speakers was a guy named Michael who was one of the founders of Shalom House and the Koinonia Projects along with Father Kizito back in the mid 1990's. It was great to hear (and take notes - if anyone is interested in these just let me know) an African perspective on the conflicts and solutions to those conflicts (political, social, and religious) going on in Africa. There has been a lot of fall out since the colonizing of Africa, and things are very complicated; the church has a huge role and opportunity that it can either improve or add to the current problems. The lectures were encouraging in that many churches and individuals have been active in bringing peace, justice, and equality to the people here.
Following the lectures we walked (our first time walking in the slums directly next to Shalom House) to a football (soccer) game that one of our guides places on though he did not play in this game. It was one of two professional soccer teams in Nairobi that often travels around Africa and Europe to play games. The team we were cheering for lost but it was a great way to spend a Saturday evening just sitting as a group watching a game. The weather was also perfect for the occasion.