This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to live in Nairobi, Kenya for a little over 2 months. I worked with Christian Missionary Fellowship International (CMF), in community with the people in the Mathare Valley Slum- the 2nd largest slum in Kenya. Inside of Mathare, a three square mile area, there are more than 600,000 people. Living conditions are generally poor. Families of 4 to 8 people often live in 6x8 foot shacks constructed of corrugated tin sheets. Access to water and basic sanitation is extremely limited. It is estimated that one third of the population is HIV positive.
This may be a good depiction of the living conditions these people are faced with every day; however, this is not the best depiction of these people’s hope, love, joy, and faith. Each day I worked in the same community as the only “mzungu” or white person they saw on a regular basis. I was blessed to be able to stay longer than a short term trip, and to walk alongside the people of Baba Dogo. This summer, I spent my days walking in the village, visiting my students’ houses, learning about their family, recruiting kids to come to Missions of Hope’s school, encouraging parents, and building relationships with the village. I laughed, prayed, cried, worshipped, ate, and worked with the people in a community that so desperately needs the most basic things; food, water, adequate shelter and jobs. They had a shortage of all these things and providing for a family is one of their daily struggles. However, while spending my time in the slum, I saw Jesus more real than I had ever seen Him before. I saw Him in the chaos, in the clutter, the poverty, the dirt, and the children. I saw Him everywhere. It was then that, I realized the whole reason I came to this place: to tell people about the hope that is found in Jesus. When these people had Jesus, all their basic needs were met. Jesus became their food, water, and shelter which was greatly needed. When they could rely on and trust Him, what else would they need?
Needless to say, this summer impacted me more than I can convey in one article. Coming home to a country of excess after falling in love with and becoming a part of a community where everything was shared was more than culture shock. Coming back to school a week later, was even more of a shock. However, I am learning how to adjust and I have enjoyed my transition. Classes are back in full swing, as well as work, oh, and a social life! Luckily, I have been able to remember my internship in some way every day since I have been home and keep in touch with my teammates. Please continue to pray for the people of the Mathare Valley.
Bwana Asifiwe! (Praise the Lord)