On Tuesday morning we left in our van to visit Pastor John's feeding program in the Deepsea Village.
More than half of Nairobi’s population – more than two million people – live in slums and informal settlements. Crammed into makeshift shacks on just one per cent of the city’s usable land, people live without adequate access to water, hospitals, schools and other essential public services.
Around 10,000 people live in the Deepsea Village and up to several million people live in Kiberia, Nairobi’s largest slum, crowded onto just 550 acres of sodden land that straddles the main railway line. Most earn barely enough to rent a mud-floored, tin-roofed wooden shack with no toilet or running water. It's hard to get your mind around it.
We drove in and parked along the side of the road and began our walk, carefully stepping over debris, sewage and mud. Pastor John and his wife, Beatrice have committed to providing a feeding program in this slum, for the children, 4 days a week. ( with hopes, of course, to be able to offer it every day )
They serve 1/2 a cup of a thin porridge and a banana to each child....or half a banana if there are many children.
Because the word got out that our small group was coming to visit, the number of children gathered in the corregated makeshift metal building expanded to many hundred smiling faces.
The children welcomed us in song, and among the poverty and need, sweet voices were raised in welcome, joy and gratitude.
This journey to a third world country was....yes....one that was about those in need, but more, I was discovering, about the expression of gratitude for simply a new day.
After the children were fed, we met with a family that shared their moving story. A couple of weeks before our group left on this journey, the leaders of our group had heard from Pastor John about the terrible burns suffered by little Sharon.
It seems that her mother had heated some water for washing clothes and one of the little girls, in thinking that she would be helping her mother to wash her baby sister, poured the boiling hot water over little Sharon. They managed to get Sharon to the hospital, but having no money, were turned away. The father happened to meet up with Pastor John and shared his story. Pastor John emailed Rebecca and Valerie, and they in turn sent out an email to each of us who were planning on visiting Kenya, to see if we might be interested giving a small donation to help raise the money for Sharon to be able to be treated for her burns. The money was raised and Sharon was able to return to the hospital for treatment, however, in her treatment they forgot to pull her little ears away from her skull and so they healed from the burns but were stuck to the side of her head, and would need another operation. Today she goes into the hospital for that second operation. If you can send your thoughts, prayers, wishes and intentions to her and her family, I know it will make a difference in the success of her treatment.
But here's the point that I want to make in sharing this story. Look at the faces of the family. Do you see their smiles? Can you feel their gratitude for the miracle of healing and support. The mother and dad wanted to meet with us to thank us for our donation and to tell us that they feel so blessed and grateful. There is no complaining, no whining, no despair......we were again, only met with deep gratitude and a smile for the blessings they had received.
I was just beginning to become aware of the power and depth of Purposeful Tours and was, myself, so grateful that I was able to over come my fears and to say "Yes!" to Africa.