Week 4 – Kenya

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I promised to tell you an amazing story of how the focus of our trip changed in a single day, and here it is!

Having already visited the homes of many of the children at the school, and seeing the squalid conditions in which they live and breathe, we decided, after we had been here for a couple of weeks, to visit the homes of the teachers.  We were expecting much better conditions, since the teachers are blessed with permanent employment.  You would think so, right?  Oh, how we were mistaken!

These precious, committed, and loving individuals work from daylight until dark, returning to ‘homes’ in the same neighborhoods where the students live.  Some have no beds, only a foam mattress on the floor.  One room, with the sleeping area divided from the remaining space with some type of fabric strung across on a wire or a rope.  In spite of this, they are neat and tidy.

This is Dorcas, the school matron, on the left and Dennis, one of her youngest, on the right.  Dorcas and her husband, Erick, have a single bed; their five children sleep on concrete sacks on the floor.  And yet, the joy and thankfulness evident on all their faces is mind boggling.

When we visited their little home, John and I were treated to the two chairs; everyone else sat on the edge of the single bed.

Next, we visited Teacher Esther’s house.  She lives with two older sisters, Nancy and Carolyne, who are 31 and 24.  A couple of years ago, they were promised employment for an up-front commission of 15,000 schillings, a huge amount.  Not surprisingly, after they raised it, the man absconded with their money and they were left with nothing.  Since then, they have tried to find daily work doing laundry, etc., but have relied almost entirely on Esther’s income of 4,000 schillings, approximately $48.00/month.

This next picture is Teacher Grace, the Director’s wife in the middle, and Teacher Esther.  Aren’t they absolutely beautiful!!  God has gifted each of them in such unique and special ways!

After visiting the homes of all six teachers plus the matron, we came back to The Pink House, heavy-hearted and stunned.  Even our Director, who works with these teachers every day, was shocked to see the conditions in which some of them live, and the plight of their existence.  We began to brainstorm about how we could improve their living conditions, wishing we could find another house like The Pink House, putting several families on each floor.  It would be communal living, but what they’re in is communal, just without a real bathroom or a kitchen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

On Monday we hit the street, looking for something nearby.  We found an “apartment complex” just a couple of blocks from the school.  The bottom two floors were already complete and occupied, with business establishments on the street side, and apartments in the back.  The third floor was still under construction, just a week or so away from completion.  The owner happened to be there and we were able to share with him what we had in mind.  He suggested that, if we rented half of the third floor, he could put in metal gates to control access to their area.  He said that he would put locks on one toilet and one shower, so that only the teachers and their families would have the use of it.  He said that as soon as he is able to bring in a permanent water line, he would add an instant hot water shower head on their shower.  This is so much better than where the teachers are living, but my heart sank a little, wanting so much more for them.

These are no more than approximately 9’ x 12’ concrete rooms – one electrical outlet, one light bulb.  No ventilation, no kitchen, nothing.  Just one room.  But the fact that there is electricity, there is water, and there is a working toilet is a VAST improvement.  (By the way, this won’t be a flushing toilet as you and I know it, but a porcelain opening in the floor with a 50 gallon container of water outside the door with a pitcher so you can flush-it-yourself.)  And it’s only TWO BLOCKS FROM THE SCHOOL!!!  And there’s a spare apartment that we can develop into a community kitchen and fellowship hall.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

While John and I were considering this huge leap of faith (since we didn’t have the money nor the monthly commitments to cover this additional cost), we asked Esther if she thought her sisters, Nancy and Carolyne, could come to the school the next day.  They were there, bright and early, and we offered them jobs at the school.  There is more than enough work to spread around, and the teachers and staff have been so grossly overworked, it’s pitiful.  Both of these lovely young women are educated and bright, with not a lazy bone in their bodies.  We decided to start them out at 4,000 schillings ($48/month), raise Dorcas’ salary to that amount, and raise the teachers to 5,000 and 6,000 schillings ($60 – $72/month).  Nancy and Carolyne were thrilled, to say the least, and showed up for work the next morning at the crack of dawn.

That brings us to Thursday.  I’m telling you this, because this week moved at warp speed!  Nancy and Carolyne worked Thursday and Friday, and were so happy to be part of the fellowship Friday afternoon during the weekly Bible study and closing ceremony for the week.

Friday, July 27, 2012

After spending hours and hours driving downtown in the insane Nairobi traffic to get an international drivers license (only to discover that we didn’t need one after all), we barely made it back in time for this precious Friday afternoon time with the kids and teachers.

John and I hadn’t even finished discussing and deciding on the teacher housing issue, but glanced at each other, whispered a few words, and felt moved to go ahead with it, sharing the news with them after the children went home.

We sat them down under the pretense of getting a group picture, then announced what we felt like God was moving us to do, knowing that it was a step of faith and only God could provide what we needed.  Wow!  Pandemonium broke loose!!!

And then we all walked down the street and around the corner to THE ORANGE HOUSE!!

It was in God’s perfect timing that all of this came down while Pastor Michael was present.  Many of these teachers are members of his congregation, and he had been praying for months, unbeknownst to us, that Dorcas and her family would have a new place to live.  He read some Scripture, sent up prayers of thanksgiving and anointing on this new home, and blessed us all!

Then we took the first group picture of everyone, including Pastor Michael, at The Orange House!

One week later . . .

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Early Saturday morning, we took off with the kids to check on the move-in progress.  On Friday, we had met with the leasing agent and signed the contract on the nine units, getting back to school just in time to let the teachers know that everything had been settled.  Some were so excited that they hired a cart that very night and moved all their possessions in around midnight.  By the time we arrived, several were already settled in.

Teacher Carren did not arrive until late Saturday evening, as she had been at the funeral home all day, making arrangements for the burial of her 20-year-old sister-in-law who had died of asthma earlier in the week.  By the time she got to The Orange House, we had been there and gone, leaving her a great surprise – a bed for her and her two little girls, Faith and Joy.  These ladies helped me put it together.  What fun we had!!!

God is good.  All the time!  Before we even left Kenya, we had received commitments to cover the monthly cost of the new housing for the teachers!


Praise God!

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