Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Heartbreak and hope

Today we made Home Visits:

We walked down into the village where the majority of the KDS students live. The smells, the sounds, the flies and other bugs swarming, the treacherous walking through sewage and trash to get there; today was like no other.  As much as you think you can understand as you drive through the slums, you have no idea. It is worse than any thought you could ever conjure up in your mind.

First, we visit Alice. Alice and her husband provide for their family by collecting items from the dump to sell.  If he does not sell, he does not come home.  So far he's been gone for 36 hours.  Alice and her family of six live in one room; small, dark, and crowded, where they eat, sleep, cook, and sustain themselves.  The entire room and path to their home are swarming with bugs, covered with dirty water and sewage.  Trash is piled in bags outside the room, as these are the items that the parents have collected from the dump to survive.  Two of their children go to KDS.

The dump is a curse; 30 acres of land, brimming with trash piled, filling a quarry first then 2,000 tons of Nairobi's trash, toxic, medical, agricultural, and residential waste all are dumped daily in one place. The dump is run by gangs. It is dangerous, literally sickening (studies have been done as far away as Japan for the negative health effects produced from the burning of the trash at the dump.) Unfortunately this same toxic place is sustanence for so many. People fight for the newest trucks filled with trash; children are drawn away from school to scavenge through. They return with heavy chest coughs and other sicknesses as it is incredibly destructive to their growing bodies.

Anna lives down by the river in a nicer one room home that was provided by the Dandora health workers and the community.  Her food to feed the 5 grandchildren she has comes from the same health workers, the community, and the Dandora Catholic church.  Anna's daughter died in November 2011, leaving Anna to take of them.  To make matters worse, Anna's grandson drowned in the river alongside their home during the heavy floods.  They still cannot find his body.  Two of Anna's grandchildren attend KDS.

An entire family shares one room with many children and animals; danger; idleness abound; shanties connected with metal, wood, uneven ground, as the ground slopes downward to the river.  There is trash everywhere; livestock walk and defacate freely; the smell of rotten fish, feces, and overwhelming trash overpowers your senses.  Unschooled children call out to us as we pass.  Feelings of sadness, disappointment in a world that doesn't even know this exists, the children, the people of God, in such a place is beyond heart-breaking.  Fear begins to creep in as we trudge through one of the most dangerous places in the world, rampant with gang activity; we walk cautiously as well know to well that desperate circumstances draw people to illegal, hazardous activities and crime. 

Finally, in all the pain, reproach, disgust, and hurt, I find praise.  I thank God that He allowed me to see the devastating poverty that more than half the world lives in.  I thank God for breaking my heart and not letting this message die within me.  I thank God for the hope that comes from Him alone.  I know we talk a pretty great talk when it comes to loving God alone and not worrying about material possessions....  if you could only see and experience this, you would understand this in a whole new way.  I thank God for the strength I have right now, and I am grateful that He has honored me with this privilege to take the message of Dandora elsewhere.  

Today, be thankful, and most importantly, pray.

If this is how I feel, I can only imagine the pain God feels at his children suffering. Pray for protection, hope, trust, provision, and change in a dark place! Pray that the love of Christ would be received. Pray that the hearts that have experienced this would share the message. Today was the first time in three years that I cried in front of staff members. It was incredibly emotional; I am not impervious to the injustice. God has given me strength to endure, but today, today will be used for His glory.  


  1. i cry with you jennifer so sad to see i just can't imagine how horrific the sites must have been i love you and please don't ever forget YOU MAKE ME SO PROUD TO BE YOU MOTHER

  2. hi jen, i hope all is well with you an you group.it must be heartbreaking to see what these people must endure everyday and still be able to smile at the sight of seeing you an your group an that there alone must lift your spirits and seeing the power of our god almighty.keep moving forward an spread the word,a precious smile an the hope you give to these children is all worth it ...most of all be safe an come home ,i miss your voice pumpkin...i love you jen .love dad