Monday, March 31, 2008

Update From Kenya

It has been a while since we've been in touch – we thought we'd give you a break from hourly emails! As I write, we've just had a very dramatic thunder storm here and torrential rain. The short rainy season has now started which is great for the garden and it's wonderful to have no dust for a while. The kids love it too, the combination of water and lots of mud has to be a child's paradise!

We're all doing well here, at least things are calm now which is a relief. (the children) are also much happier these days, I think it has been good for them to have the routine of school again and to be with all their friends. We do wonder sometimes how they are processing the events of a few weeks ago. ****** never speaks about it but ******* still has restless nights sometimes and the other night he prayed before going to bed 'Lord Jesus, please keep the bad men away from us all the time.' We're all feeling rather tired … and we're heading off to the coast next Thursday. We've rented a house by the beach and we're aiming to do as little as possible for 10 days! I can't wait.
****** and I have been visiting the nearest IDP (internally displaced people) camp quite regularly. About five minutes drive away from us you are suddenly faced with a sea of white tents. Each time we go we see that more tents have gone up. Apparently, 3000 people now call the place "home". The Red Cross is no longer accepting any new arrivals as there is no more room to put them. At one end UNICEF has put up 4 tents to be used as classrooms for the children. Over 400 children are crowded into these 'classrooms', sitting on the dusty floor trying to balance their exercise books on their knees. The teachers (all volunteers) bravely try to teach the children, writing on wobbly blackboards that form part of the tent partition. It's very hot and not really conducive to learning, but I guess it's better than nothing.
We have offered our premises here for the children to come to school and to ease some of the congestion. You'd think people would jump at the opportunity. But that is not so. I think it's because there are a few large NGOs involved in these camps and it seems that there is much to be gained from other people's misery. There is also a new District Education Officer in town and the wheels of bureaucracy run slowly. Although we have a much better solution to offer than the tented classrooms, we fear nobody wants to make a decision (especially if it involves spending money) so the youngsters will have to make do with less than adequate teaching facilities. We find this so frustrating and feel our hands are tied despite all our efforts.
We've also been looking for people in the camps who have particular skills that they might like to teach to others. The other day we met **** and ***** who are both hairdressers. They lost everything, including their businesses when they had to run away from Eldoret. **** seems particularly traumatized by what happened to her and is struggling to come to terms with her life now. We've suggested to them that they come and teach a hairdressing course here and get some students from the IDP camps. We're also looking into starting a tailoring course and a basic computer course. There are a lot of people in the camps who are sitting around doing nothing, so we trying to think of practical solutions that would help people earn some money too. Just about everyday we have people coming here looking for jobs and it's always the same story 'I've lost everything.' So tragic.
Meanwhile, our youth discipleship courses continue to grow. We've started our second 'Basic Christianity Course' (now including young people from the camps) and we're onto the next module which is 'the Bible' – an in-depth study of Mark.
We have been pushing lots of doors over the past few weeks which is both time consuming and exhausting, but everything seems to take so long to actually work out which can be very disheartening. Please pray for us that the right doors open and that we can make better use of this place to help those who are struggling so much. We don't want to be spinning our wheels unnecessarily. I have to say though that my priority right now is to get ready for our holiday. I think it's definitely time to hit the beach! **** wants me to pack the suitcases right now and is busy looking for all the buckets and spades that **** has deposited all over the Centre as he likes to pretend he's a 'fundi' (expert builder!) - he will tell you that he's WORKING, not playing! We're all getting excited.

We'll keep you posted about what develops here.

Thanks as always for all your prayers and support.


Jean said...

I think that's neat that they're inviting people from the camp to use their skills and teach others.

DSW said...

Kenya updates are cop-out blog material. That response is predicated on the fact that your blog is for people beyond your immediate Winnipeg congregation. How can I critique your every word if its something else's letter, sheesh.


SoulPastor said...

If you were not so far away....

At least you are getting educated my friend. I trust things are going well for you at WKC! I actually pray for you and Chris! No, seriously....I do.....