This is most evident in the work of the Community Health Workers at Ray of Hope, both in Kawangware, and upcountry in some of the rural communities supported by Ray of Hope. We worked with three of these Community Health Workers this week; each works at least forty hours a week as a volunteer for Ray of Hope. Their work is tireless. They walk from home to home, offering counseling and medical referrals. They work to address other needs such as hunger. They act as midwives, perform accounting support, and organize the building of schools and wells. When asked why they do this, the response is very matter of fact- there is a need that must be filled for the good of the community.
Much of our work this week is about building community between those served by Ray of Hope in Kenya, and the team from Glide Church. It is about building understanding and sharing knowledge. Our prayer is that the message of hope inspired by the work of Ray of Hope will filter to many more people around the world, and that we each regain the sense of community that many of us have lost.
I was more than a little grouchy by the time I had reached Ray of Hope. The time it took to post the blog meant I had missed breakfast, and most likely tea. Then I caught myself. I had just spent the day before listening to woman after woman talk about how hungry they were, wondering when and how they would have their next meal, and I was grouchy over skipping breakfast. I will remember these women the next time I am inconvenienced by a missed meal.
I spent the day mainly with Josh, Emily (a community health worker from “Upcountry”—western Kenya), and Gideon, the Ray of Hope’s handy man. We painted two rooms in the clinic. Sometimes we worked in silence, the rhythm of our brushes keeping time with one another. Other times, we laughed heartily, enjoying one another’s company.
The evening was an unexpected delight. After a crazy matatu ride across town (when the matatu picked us up at the Guest House, they asked us—Glide folks and RoH staff—where to go. No one knew!), we arrived at a restaurant where the rest of the staff were waiting for us. They were sharing an African feast with us, complete with goat, chicken, ribs, greens, maze with crushed pumpkin leaves, chappo…the food kept coming out, and we shared plates heaped with food, eating only with our fingers. It was a delight, but the fun had only just begun!
After presenting the RoH staff with gifts of Glide tee shirts and a cash gift for their work, we were taken out dancing to a local club. We all—Glide members and RoH staff—hit the dance floor. It was a night of so much joy! We danced (with the rest of the patrons of the club looking on) and laughed together, solidifying the bonds of friendship we had established. I am going to bed feeling full in body and spirit.
A quick update on the HIV+ boy in the Learning Center who was ill the other day…he did test positive for Malaria, and stomach parasites, but with medication, he was back to school (He has not been told that he is HIV+, as the staff fears he will lose hope if told).
Tonight the Ray of Hope staff took our group to dinner at an outdoor restaurant, where we ate food from Africa…….eating with our hands and sharing off the same plates. True community.
After Pumwani, another long bus ride and walk to another part of Nairobi to the state building where Katie met with an attorney.
The night ended with a very long drive to yet another part of Nairobi for a party with the ROH staff. It was a really fun night with the staff before out last day at ROH. Since we have become family with the staff, they treated us to a Kenyan feast in which we all ate from the same plates: Goat, chicken, spicy tomatoes, maze, potatoes with pumpkin leaves, chappo (bread similar to tortillas) and French fries. It was a celebration of love!