As we spent time on our trip to Kenya our team would sit down at the end of each day and talk about what happened that day, how we saw God work, how we heard God speak to us and, in general, our thoughts and feelings from the days activities. After our day on Monday, and as we began to discuss our visit to the Water Mission, Kitale Technical Training Institute and the slums in Kitale several of us noted that no amount of great pictures or detailed words could explain what we saw and experienced in the slums. I've tried (you can see the results below) to show the living conditions and the look of despair on the residents of this area of Kitale but you cannot know the effects unless you experience it first hand.
When our team arrived in the slum area, Pastor Bromwell (the Pastor of the church and Police Chief in the slums) provided us with a "tour" and introduced us to many residents of the area. Imagine a location that is 15 to 20 square blocks with residents estimated in the 10's of thousands. Most of the buildings are made of mud and sticks. Some are more solid, others are made of sticks, mud and trash (basically whatever the resident could patch together to provide a shelter). The streets are littered with trash and, in some locations drug and alcohol use remnants abound. As we are only the third group of mzungu's ("European white visitors") we seem to gather quite a crowd around us. Most are friendly, some "overly" so, and some keep their distance, only providing "why are you here" stares.
Though this is a school day and school for most of Kenya has begun for the current semester, there are MANY children running around. If they are not curious enough to walk with us they are playing with make-shift soccer balls (trash made into a ball and secured with tape or rope) or hoop toys (a wheel or circular object rolled along the ground and propelled by a child running beside and pushing it with a stick). Of course, these are the kids who, on this day, were not up in town begging for money in front of a store. Pastor Bromwell told us he's seen children as young as 4 years old walking, alone, several miles into town to beg and get money to eat. They are not attending school (their family cannot afford the uniforms and/or the fees). Dirty (no, in most cases filthy) they run around with no supervision through the filth around them. Many with so many chigger bites you can not see a smooth place on they're feet and ankles. Some are orphaned and are being care for by other family or just someone nearby who feels the need to do so. All are malnourished, most times eating one meal a day and sometimes less. When they do eat it is whatever they can find that will fill there bellies (including left over parts of animals - everyone else's trash - and miscarried calf carcasses).
As I type this my eyes fill with tears and my heart breaks remembering what I saw and thinking that these children wake up, every day, to these conditions. These slums have been there for over 200 years and it's said they are born, live and eventually die in those slums. There's no escape and no hope, for many of them.
Oh, but there is!!! We cannot change the conditions all at once but we will work to do as much as we can! How? Well, first, we are working with a local church we have very close ties with to support as many of these children as possible. To get them into a boarding school that provides a bed to sleep in, food to eat, books, uniforms and other important provisions. While in Africa God birthed this vision in two of our team members (Laci and Norma). When we currently support a child in another country we don't know where all the money is going and what % they will get. This vision was to see that 100% of the funds are going where they should, straight to the kids that need it. Also, because we are connected directly to the church in Kitale that will handling this support, it's possible you can go on one of our missions trips to Kitale and visit the child yourself. More details will be posted on http://www.restorationchurchwichita.com/ as they are worked out. You can "Like" the Restoration Church Wichita page (https://www.facebook.com/restorationchurchwichita) and get updates there as well. We will provide other opportunities for support but what you can do every day that costs $0 is pray! Pray for the people of the slums in Kitale. Pray for Pastor's Bromwell and Adams as they work to improve conditions and share the TRUE Hope (that is Christ) with the people of Kitale. The children who cannot go to school, the children who are being sold into sex slavery or who are prostituting themselves in order to buy food and survive. The teenagers and adults that numb the pain with homemade alcohol and drugs. And pray for God to send more folks who will love the people of the slums in Kitale and who's hearts ache, like mine, to see peoples hearts turn to Him and there lives change as they break out of the cycle they are in and get out of the slums.