Uncovering Problems without Solutions

The last week has been really good.  And by really good I mean I have uncovered many problems in Turbo and have zero solutions.  Some might argue this is a really bad place to be.   I am choosing to trust this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

I spent three days last week walking through the slums in Turbo (specifically Kampi Mawe) listening to the challenges of the community and making some new friends.  Let me introduce you to a few of them . . .

This young girl is 15 years old and ran away from her home to the slums in Kampi Mawe due to issues surrounding poverty and alcohlism.  She is supposed to go to grade six this year but doesn’t have school fees.  Her mother pays for school for her brother but can’t afford both.

Faith in Kampi Mawe

This young girl is 8 years old and her sister is 13 years old.  Their father died during tribal clashes in Kenya and their mom died of HIV.  They have two brothers who 18 years old and 14 years old.  These four orphans are currently living in the slums with a neighbor’s family which means about ten people sleeping in a “house” about the size of a suburban.

Tabi & Wanjiro

And finally, this young boy, I noticed him right away because of his eyes.  His mother said at three months his eyes started changing and began itching and tearing up constantly.  She claims to have taken him the hospital but no one has been able to help.

Kevin's eyes Turbo

The solutions for these children?

No idea.

My response?

Compassion and prayers and a quick “Mungu Anajua” (God knows in Kiswahili).  Hearing the white person speak a little Swahili provides a temporary sense of relief and laughter and then of course it reminds us all that even when we don’t know the solution, God does.

Did anyone notice something in Kevin’s mouth?  Well that is a small bite of chapati (a popular Kenyan food similar to a tortilla) from my dear friend Susan.  Remember her?  A few weeks ago she was in the Turbo health clinic getting IV fluids because her sugars were so high.  But last week when I saw her she was rolling chapatis and selling them in town.

Susan chapati pic

I bought a few chapati and gave a little piece to each child in my entourage.  I figure they deserve something for following me around and making me look way more important than I am.

Kampi Mawe Entourage

I know this is a short summary of these stories.  If you are anything like me you have a million more questions.  Often in these situations the details are spotty and getting the “full story” is challenging due to cultural and language barriers.  I do my best to listen, ask questions, and avoid making any promises.  I pray for these people, share their stories, and network with community health leaders, the Turbo clinic, other NGOs, and Empowering Lives.  I continue to seek answers while carefully navigating the balance between prayer and action.

Thank you to all of your for your continued support and prayers.  Every email, Facebook message, card, or encouragement means so much to me.  And thank you so much to those who donated towards the walk-a-thon!  Not only did we raise $1,700 but it was also a great opportunity to be reminded of how all of the orphans lives in the Kipkaren Children’s Home have been transformed because of Empowering Lives.  The transformation in the Kipkaren community continues to fuel my hope for the slums of Turbo.

Always Hopeful,

Colleen

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Comments

  1. What you are doing is so courageous. You’re a saint to give everything up and go to help these people and children. In this day and age, when we are all looking for the next quick gratification, it’s heart warming to know that young women like you still exist. I imagine your life is hard, living so opposite from the way you were raised. I found out about your blog through my hairdresser Kate Pauli and have been following it ever since. I plan on sending some support – I hope I can help in even the smallest way. Keep up the amazing work and stay well. Each day lived is really eternity.
    Blessings,
    Tia

Trackbacks

  1. […] I’ve been wrestling about what direction to go with my next blog.  My inefficient, ineffective, and confusing trip to Nairobi regarding my visa?  My frustration with the fact that every time I go to take a shower I don’t have water?  My overwhelming excitement that I have four good friends coming to visit me in Kenya in one week?  The baby steps being taken in Turbo? […]

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