Today was the highlight of my trip to Kenya! I met an angel from the Mathare Community. Her name is Peres, and she is 6 years old. She is our child that we sponsor through the Mission of Hope Ministry. We all knew that meeting our children was a possibility on the trip, and we were hoping and praying that it would become a reality. Today, April and I both met our Mathare children at the Pangiani Center. My life has been changed forever. She is an angel, with soft brown eyes and a tiny little frame and precious smile that melted my heart. I took her little hands in mine and talked to her through her interpreter. I thank God that I got to meet our little Peres, and I pray that she will have the promise of a better life with being able to learn about the love of Christ and get a quality education through the wonderful ministry of Mission of Hope.
The week has gone fast, and I am tired but energized by what I have gotten to do each day. Each day we have gone to the Bondeni School in the village of Bondeni, and spent the morning teaching in the different classrooms, grades Nursery through 5th. Then after a generous lunch of mashed potatoes with pumpkin leaves and corn, rice, stew, cabbage slaw, and “tortillia”, we were ready for either more classroom work or going out in the community for a home visit, with a team from TPCC and a CHE staff person. I loved doing both but I guess I’ll have to say that my heart was in the classrooms! The classrooms are very tiny and dark, hot and smelly, with the only light being the square window panel in the roof. There are about 30 children per classroom, tightly packed in bench-like desks that seat 4, with no room to wiggle! There is a large, very worn, chalkboard at the front of the room. The chalk is used to the very tiniest of a nub before it is discarded. Teacher Joshua surprised Natalie and I with a roll of masking tape to hang our chart paper today! The children share supplies readily with each other, and they really enjoyed the supply of crayons, pencils and pencil sharpeners that we brought for them. The students share reading books with each other, with some classrooms only having a few copies. They cherish their paper notebooks, and composition books that they use for written work. These little booklets are so fragile and dirty, that we would probably through them in the recycling bin. The teachers were so welcoming and had prepared their students for visitors. Their students greeted each visitor with Hello, how are you today? Welcome to Bondeni school! Then they would sing a beautiful welcome song to us. It was very cool! We felt very blessed to visit the classrooms and to be asked to teach reading skills, writing skills, and classroom management techniques. The children have been so delightful-very respectful-and well behaved. There are so many children in a small place that recess was chaotic and there were a few surprises that we found out about restroom procedures! This has been an amazing experience so far and I am very glad to be here!