Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beauty From Ashes

Last week I posted about our first visit to the Kibera Slum. If you missed that post, go back and read it HERE.

No, seriously, go do it. It's pretty much imperative to this one. We will wait for you.

Caught up? Good. Here we go!

We toured Kibera, and amidst the desolation, within the pain and hopelessness of the slum, was a bright shining corner of the slum. In the middle of this:

we saw this sign:

And we started to turn the corner and head down a slight hill. It was actually brighter. It was immensely cleaner. It felt so much lighter. We found this:
This is the Saviour King's Academy. The school that our church helps support, the hope for the future for 270 of the children who call the Kibera Slum home. They knew we were coming, their special visitors, and they poured out to greet us.
And oh, it was amazing. I am tearing up just remembering. Indescribable.

We shook their hands, and they greeted us with the up most respect and manners.

Every single one of them wanted to shake the hand of every single one of us.
It was incredible.

These kids have joy. Pure joy.
The essence of Jesus shines from their innermost being and emanates from their souls.
By the way, August is winter in Kenya. It was about 65 and overcast, so they were bundled up in their winter gear. :)
Then they lined up to offer us a welcome that I will never forget for as long as I live.

They sang.

And they danced.

Oh, how these children can sing!

Songs in Swahili, songs in English, songs lifting praise to the One True God who gives them life and breath.

"I'm trading my sorrows, I'm trading my shame..."
:...I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord! I say, yes Lord, yes, Lord, yes yes Lord!"
They gave us gifts, simple necklaces made from Christmas tree tinsel. They sang a song in Swahili and presented them to us. I think I will keep mine forever, it is so meaningful.

And they sang, and danced some more.
Then, we were called up to dance for them. We taught them a new song, and they loved it. They all went back to their classes and we got to tour the school.

This is the baby class, or the preschool by our standards. No books, no papers, no crayons or coloring books. Just children with a heart for learning and a total desire for an education.
A few projects on the wall, evidence that there is creativity that happens here.
Sweet faces.
And with the flash off, this is what the room looks like. No lights, just an open window allowing a bit of light in. This is pre-school. And in Kenya, this is a very good pre-school.
You don't need things to learn. You just need teachers who have the desire to teach, and children who have the desire to learn. That's all.

These teachers and the director are all highly educated. They could easily get jobs at any school in Kenya, but they want to be here, teaching the children of Kibera about the love of Jesus, and giving them the education they need to break the cycle of poverty and get out of the slum.

This is what would be Kindergarten by our school system. We counted fifty five children in this class.
Fifty five.

And not a single one complains.

They all had presentations for us, showing us what they are learning. We were blown away, these kids take this seriously. One of the things they recited included the line, "Parents, give us an education!" and they meant it. Every single child wants to be there every single day.
Neighborhood kids hang out outside the classroom doors. the school sits in a Muslim neighborhood of the slum, so although there are some Muslim students (and some former Muslim students whose families have come to know Christ through this school) many of the children are not allowed to attend because this is a Christian school that teaches about Christ Jesus, and many Muslim parents would rather not let their child get an education than to go to a Christian school. The kids want to go and learn, though so the teachers do some pretty amazing things.

The kids are welcomed in. They sit in the back, and the teachers keep a look out for the child's parents. If a parent comes looking for the child, the teachers will signal the child and he or she will crawl behind other kids and hide, then sneak out of the class and run home before the parent gets back.

What these teachers will do to give these kids a fighting chance is incredibly amazing. The lengths these teachers will go to to teach a child about Jesus is humbling.

And all we could do was say, "Wow."
A few of these students went up to the front to teach their peers. Every one started with "Hello, class, how are you?" The students replied, "We are fine, sir, thank you, sir." then the teaching student responded with, "Sit down."

Honestly, we all got the giggles. There was no please or thank you, it just isn't their culture. Cute adorable little children, saying, "sit down," in such a serious tone with their amazing accents was phenomenal. And hilarious. "Sit down."
Neighborhood kids, wanting to see what was going on.

Another class' chalkboard.
The next class was in a larger room, divided into three classes by plywood partitions. Each had a chalkboard and was filled to capacity. The school tries really hard not to turn children away, but they are out of space.

This class presented us with the AWANA pledge. If any of you are familiar with AWANA, the pledge is the same as it is in America. My children participate in AWANA. It was incredible to see the same pledge being done in Kenya.

When we finished touring the classes, we did a small medical clinic and brought de-worming pills to every child. We didn't realize it right away, but the children do not look sickly thin, but that is mostly due to bloat from malnutrition and worms distending their bellies. We were happy to be able to bring them some relief from the worms, and the knowledge that what little food they get will actually feed and nourish them and not the parasites that live within them.

They were so excited to get the pills. Anything is a gift, and they were thrilled with it.

This school is beauty residing in the ashes of Kibera. Tomorrow I will tell you about what we did next for these amazing children. Stay tuned, the experience for us was beyond incredible. And for the kids? Well, you will have to wait and see!

More photos from this day can be found HERE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing person with the biggest heart. I hope you know that.