Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dandora: The Day The Light Came, Kenya Day 1

I apologize upfront for the lack of pictures. My plan was to use the computer to blog and upload shots from the day, however, the Internet is very....unreliable and it's easier to stay on the iPhone. (Apple wins again in a developing country. I have many great stories about the iPhone in the midst of poverty. Praise God for technology.)

Today was quite full. And quite wonderful.

We started the morning off with a visit to Compassion Kenya's headquarters to get a tour and meet the staff. Might I just say...a well oiled machine. And there are dozens of checkpoints for integrity. It really is impressive. We don't have these kind of checkpoints even in our own churches or businesses.

We met Moses and Julius, the IT guys who keep it running (a formerly sponsored child); Brenda who is in charge of the Highly Valuable Children (or vulnerable children - suffering abuse or disability); Patricia who handles all the curriculum for the Kenyan programs; Jeffery who does financial training to the church partners; Samuel who works in the communications department and helps translate our letters; Joel, the Kenyan director (who so poignantly said, "we are fighting for dignity and for the dignity of our people"); and Fred, a program facilitator who works hand in hand with church partners - he's an ambassador of sorts between the American HQ and the people doing the real work at the Compassion programs.

There are a dozen more, but you want to hear about the child development sponsorship center we visited. A CDSP is a Compassion program hosted at a local church - they are the people who do the work, the real work.

Today it was the Dandora Baptist Center, KE-528. A program located to one of the largest dumps and subsequently the largest slums in Kenya.

This program is doing amazing work. I mean truly life changing work. Not just in the lives of the children, but in the community as well. The time in Dandura was started off with a welcome program from some of the primary children. They sang songs about how Christ has saved them and performed poetry. The tears came to my eyes as the 12 or so children recited their poem about how God used Compassion to redeem their hope and their future. They spoke of how they were sick and dying and without hope or a will to try, and they remember when Compassion came, and showed them restoration and guided them to the ever empowering love of God - they called this "I remember the day the Light came." There was no hope for school, no hope for health, no hope for survival, and Compassion was there - I remember the day the Light came.

A woman from the program, who is a mother of Compassion sponsored children spoke of something very familiar to Celebration Fellowship. She spoke of transparency. "Transparency is high class."

She introduced herself and said, "I have been living HIV positive for 24 years. I have 3 children of my own, and 8 orphans who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS - my own family." Through Compassion she was able to start a support group for women living with HIV/AIDS. There are 34 of them now, and they have lost 3 of their friends in the past few years. She lives with a deep rooted conviction that I see in many of our own church - that through community and transparency, there is a way to full life and purpose. There is restoration to hope and ultimately to God - in a way that can only come through true trust and transparency with your community. How freeing.

Of course there were stickers passed out - which crosses all cultural boundaries in the land of small people. Lots of laughter and waves and "monzugu!" which means "white person."

To finish the day we had diner with 4 Leadership Development Students which is always a great
joy for me. To hear the stories of how these young men and women had no hope, and how God used Compassion International to break the chains of poverty. Now they aspire to be leaders in their country, and many wish to work with children in order to give others the same opportunity they had. One LDP graduate, John, mentioned that he was sick often as a young child. And this gave him a sense of hopelessness. But after he joined the Compassion project, he was able to receive medical care. With a shaky voice, he told us that this medical attention empowered him to gain hope, to try hard in school, and to make something of the life he'd been given.

Some things they all had in common before Compassion intervened: with food being scarce, education was not even an option since you pay to go to school; they all lost family members early on in life; and they each had a stack of letters written by their sponsors that they still read over and over today for encouragement.

And you thought you were too small to change the world. So did they. But they're doing it. And by writing a letter, you are too.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone in Kenya (in the usual Broadway song and dance style)

6 comments:

  1. Your Loving HusbandJanuary 27, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Excellent post my love! SDG!!!

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  2. I am speechless...blessed, grateful. And in such awe of the God we serve who is truly able

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  3. Wow! Truly inspiring! Definitely makes me want to do more! Tiffany, you and your dad are in our prayers for a safe trip and a safe return. Thank you for sharing the glory of His work! He is an awesome God!
    ~Cody and Chelsea Avalos

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  4. Thank you (from Tennessee) for a heart opening glimpse into what life is like for the multitudes. Write more!
    - Beth Kayfus

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  5. Roberta Robins GrossJanuary 28, 2011 at 7:18 AM

    What a BLESSING to see thru your eyes God's Work being accomplished!!! Many Blessings and travel mercies to you and your Dad.
    Roberta & Roger Gross

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  6. Your story today touched my heart! I shed some tears of joy reading it, but don't tell anyone! Keep up the great work and God bless you both! Love 'ya' , Patrick McGahey

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