Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day Three: The Lessons Continue


Evelyn, the head teacher
I am continually amazed by the Ray of Hope staff. They are tremendously committed individuals who do so much with so little. They have taken an honest look at their community, rolled up their sleeves, and seem tireless as they respond to crippling poverty and debilitating disease.

Today, I spent time with Evelyn, the head teacher. Evelyn has a true heart for children. Besides her own children, she regularly takes in abandoned and orphaned children, or those whose parents can no longer care for them. In addition, she cares for all the children at Ray of Hope as her own.

I asked her how she does it all. Her husband died several years ago, and she does all this as a single woman. She shrugged. “God provides.” She is a deeply faithful woman. “No matter how little money I receive, I always immediately give 10% of it to God. And God has never disappointed me. When I have held back from giving to God, it seems like nothing goes right. But when I give to God, even the hard times are not as hard.

“I teach my children that even when it seems like we have so little to eat, there is always enough to give to someone else. When we give, even so little, we get so much more back.”

Karen leading singing
I have never seen as much generosity as I have here in Kenya, because here people give what little they have, rather than what they don’t want or what they have left-over. I once visited a woman with HIV stir her little pot of porridge—it was the only food she had in her house—and when another HIV+ woman came into her home, who hadn’t eaten in two days, she dipped into the pot and gave the woman a cupful of porridge.

Our Kenyan friends teach us so much!


Today was another great day. The kids were wonderful and full of energy. With the help of Angela, we taught hula from Hawaii. We started with the younger kids in Evelyn’s class. We first taught them the words, then the hand and hip motions. They picked it up so fast and loved it. Next, we did the older kids in Alfred's class. I was in a little doubt about teaching them (specifically the older boys) about hula. I felt that they wouldn't think it was cool or too girl. We again taught the words and then the movement. As we were doing the chorus, I noticed two of the older boys beat banging on the book shelf to the song. I thought "hmm that would make it so much cooler." I stopped the song and told them we were going to make this very slow song a more fun song. So I had them repeat a hand and feet beat for the chorus/ breakdown part. I notice that they couldn't get the beat I was doing. I kept thinking. "It so simple." Stomp stomp clap...stomp stomp clap. I again stopped them and realize that they don't clap on the 2's and 4's but instead on the 1's and 3's. "DUH" I thought to myself.  I then asked 4 of the older boys to one at a time come in with a beat. They picked it up so fast. Then I asked one of the boys whose name is Richard, to make a beat that we all do at the end of the song-for the breakdown part. We put the whole song together. We started off very slow while doing the hula. Then once the breakdown began we cut the music, sped up the song, and only had voices and the beat.... Clap clap stomp....clap clap stomp. It was soooooo fun. We had a little extra time before lunch so we decided to make beats and have people come up and dance
.. Each row of kids (3kids) did one hand beat on the table. Then the next row came in, them the next row. We had 8 rows and bout time the last row was finished, it sounded so good. You could hear each row AND their beats. All different, all unique and fun to dance to.

As we wrapped up the day, we sat in one room quietly and the kids were in their classrooms. As we were cutting out flowers for our lei's, all of a sudden the kids started singing the song over and over and over and over and over again. I taught them Pearly Shells at 11:00 and here it was 4:00 and they were singing it still!!!!!. I felt so proud like I've accomplished something. It was so good to hear them. I could listen to them all day. My heart is so happy!!!!


I don't believe I will ever see again a group of teen-aged African children singing and dancing to a traditional Hawaiian song. Taught by classy, and choreographed by the kids, the second video is the African version of the Hawaiian classic.



Angela teaching her journaling class
Today was a great example of team work. Each member had his/her classes to lead, but made themselves available to give assistance to whoever needed it, at times without being asked to do so.

The kids and the team were just as excited to see each other today, as they were yesterday. The individual personalities of the kids are starting to become apparent, as we all struggle to remember their names.

I was surprised at how few girls are in both of the classes, Evelyn stated that a few of them have gone to high school. The girls are very shy in class and barely speak above a whisper, so I'm doing my best to encourage them.

There isn't an age limit in Kenyan schools, one of the boys is 18, and hoping to pass his tests to enter high school. 

The school had no running water today, so water had to be purchased and brought in, which was delivered by a large wooden wheel barrel.

Dance class today, was very cross cultural. Classy taught the kids a Hawaiian song, complete with the hand motions; but somehow an African beat slipped in! The song also gave me an opportunity to give a geography lesson, because the kids did not know where Hawaii was located.

I left tired today, but fulfilled, that we are bringing the kids different experiences, that they appear to appreciate.

Kwame leading a game with the children

Day two at Ray of Hope saw us as a whole community, (children, staff and our Glide team) come closer together.  It seemed to be that we where all starting to hit a comfortable stride.  The staff was at ease and very supportive.  To be frank they are all so warm and kind its incredible.  It’s a pleasure to work with such open-minded and positive people.  The children are becoming closer to us also.  They are no longer as shy and we are starting to see there personalities came to the surface.  It was also nice to hear them calling us by name. 

Today I got play with one of my classes outside.  The enthusiastic, loving and sharing way they play together was an inspiration to me and loads of fun.  Our Glide team has got the right stuff!  We started our preparation all those months ago, with talk of supporting our teammates and working together, going the extra mile.  Now we are in the moment, and all are following through.  It’s an awesome thing to be a part of.  Rock on, R.O.H. team 2012!!   

Christina with Alfred, one of the teachers
It was really nice to connect with Evelyn, Alfred, Henrika, and even Agnetta today - although there was a language barrier with Agnetta. These individuals are some of the most gracious and most giving individuals I have ever met.  They have devoted their lives to serving these children - sacrificing in ways I could not even conceptualize - and providing them with a better life - filled with unconditional love. Evelyn, a sister to 25 other women and 18 brothers (polygamy is common here - her father has seven wives, I believe), exudes soft warmth and love through every interaction. She is strong, giving, generous, gracious, devotes a significant portion of her earnings to her church, while sacrificing her own comfort for the children, as well as her GLIDE visiting family. Henrika sacrificed attending a close friends funeral in the community to be present at RoH to ensure we were taken care of and served.  She has helped me translate for many of the small children, and you can see they love her.   Alfred is one man - among many, many women (bless his heart!) - who most of the children must look up to as a father figure. He is kind, soft-spoken,  gentle in his words, and graceful in his actions. Most of these children do not have fathers, and those that do, may not have it easy.  He provides that stability. That love. That man they can look up to who consistently guides them through their adolescence. And last, Agnetta - wow, Agnetta - who provides the only nourishment most of these children receive - feeds over 50 mouths a day.  And EVERYTHING is from scratch. Each morning, beans, veggies or greens are sprawled out for preparation. The pots are huge.  The meals are hot.  One or two ladels of porridge for the younger ones, two ladels of porridge for the older ones... Followed by either a hot rice or bean dish. Today, beans and hominy were prepared with love. The children do not have water, and they have three ingredients in small rations the entire day. And it is this quiet, lovely spirit who gives the children the gift of food.  Water is not available.  But one thing is certain: radient smiles are abundant.

NOTE: Robin and Craig took Evelyn to the emergency room this afternoon. At the writing of this blog nearly six hours later, they were still there waiting for test results. Please keep Evelyn in your prayers. 

Below is a sample from Craig, Robin, and Kirsti's class session:

No comments:

Post a Comment