Monday, August 20, 2012

Day Two: Ray of Hope Homecoming


Day of Anticipation

Angela and Kwame helping serve the
children lunch
Well after months of preparation, meetings, making lists, fundraising, today we meet the children. There is excitement among the team members, some because they will see old friends again, and children they have seen grow over the years; and others like myself, we are excited to see the smiling faces of the Ray of Hope children.

Much to our surprise, the driver was able to take us and the sixteen bags of supplies in one trip. The Ray of Hope is a short drive from the Methodist guest house, which was an asset at the end of the day.

We were first introduced to Florence, who gave us the history and tour of the clinic. Of course I was Florence's favorite, because her granddaughter's name is Angela, ( a fact that I created). It is beyond amazing the work and care that is given in the clinic, when it is so understaffed, and under-resourced. Patients come in desperate, with life-threatening conditions, unable to pay, but never rejected for non-payment.

We were told that three babies had been delivered the day before (Sunday) in the clinic, but much to my surprise, the mothers nor the babies were in the clinic on Monday. On average the women remain in the hospital 2-4 hours only after giving birth. We also learned that the reason why Kenyan women do not scream during childbirth, it is believed that the baby will die, if the mother screams.  

Most of the mother's giving birth are HIV+, but if a mother breast-feeds her baby exclusively for a year, the baby will be HIV-; what a miracle.

While we were in the clinic, the children came downstairs, and recited a poem to us, that expressed their gratitude for our visit, and the poem included each of our names. The poem, their singing and their smiles, nearly brought me to tears.

The two classrooms are small and crowded, with no individual desks or chairs. The children are very respectful, asking permission to go to the bathroom, which is a hole in the floor. They are given two meals each day, unfortunately for some of the children, when they leave on Friday, lunch will be their last meal until Monday's breakfast.

The children recite a prayer before eating, and if you can envision this, all will wait until everyone is served before they will start to eat. The oldest student is 18 years of age. There was one boy who was 12, and had never been to school, he was beaten by his father who is an alcoholic. He arrived at the Ray of Hope, without even knowing how to hold a pencil at the age of twelve.

My class assignment was Journaling. So I explained that it was their personal storybook, where they could write about their feelings, family, friends, favorite things, and draw pictures. Today we focused on personalizing the journals with their names and whatever drawings, decorations they wanted on the front and back covers. The artistic talent of the kids was great.

All day long we had two classes going at the same time, it was exhilarating to hear the laughter and joy coming from the two classes, which made the day of anticipation, more than I could have possibly imagined.


Florence giving a tour of the clinic


Today was the first day of teaching at the ray of hope school. We were greeted by the ray of hope staff and a few of the kids. I taught the macarena to two classes that had 24 kids each. Each classroom was the size was 10 by12 . Though I thought to myself' wow how can they learn in such a tight space? How can they even move? The classroom was so tiny yet their love of learning was so strong that it didn't matter if they were squished together all day long. It didn't matter that they played, ate and learned all in the same small space with not one of them ever complaining. Quietly they waited to be fed. As we served each child, they gave us a sincere' thank you.' it was truly amazing.

I was overjoyed to see how they embraced me with their hand claps everytime we entered the room. Everytime I walked out and walked back in, they clapped and cheered. Today's dance was the Macarena. They had a blast and wanted more. Each child got to show me their favorite dance, and I then found myself wanting more. We were thirsty for each others teachings and happiness that we could not get enough. Seeing these kids and looking at what the they see and witness everyday is amazing. We learned the stories about each child, some who were beat by their fathers and kids who go all weekend without food and kids who are HIV positive and yet, they manage to be happy all the time. They always manage to rejoiced and keep a genuine smile on their face. It makes me so proud to share this experience with them. We danced ,laughed and played games all day and this is only the beginning!!!

Classy leads dance class


Kirsti in the classroom
But Miss Scarlet…I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ no babies

After we finished our tour of the clinic and school this morning, I went back downstairs to help out in the clinic. There were three babies delivered there yesterday and as it turned out, another since we had been there earlier this morning.  Baby and mom were doing fine, and would be ready to go home in 3-4 hours. The staff was very carefully monitoring them both as the mother had tested positive for HIV and hepatitis. I also learned this morning that an HIV+ mother can improve her child’s opportunity to be HIV- if she breast feeds the child for a year (while she is getting treatment) and does not feed the child anything other than breast milk.

The clinic has very limited offerings, but they do so much with what they have.

The rest of my morning was spent meeting a young pregnant mother and assisting with her charts and exam, holding the hand of my new friend Beatrice while she had a procedure done, and meeting with a very young and scared mother who needed treatment for an infection.

The clinic offers services for everyone who needs them. And for the mother who had her baby this morning, she will pay maybe $20 to help offset the cost of her lunch, a taxi to take her home, and the wages for the clinic staff.

The services provided are amazing for the needs of a community that are never-ending.


Laughter and joy are the words that describe today!

Robin working on her maraca
We have waited so long to see our good friends again at Ray of Hope! After greeting each friend with tears of joy, and hearing the children sing to us, we started our prepared curriculum.

Classy taught dance, and hearing the older class laugh loudly, I had to see what was going on. Classy was laughing and dancing and the kids were laughing and dancing with joy!

Craig, Kirsti and I introduced the children to symphony music through “Carnival of the Animals” (a symphony written by Saint-Saens in which each movement depicts an animal).  Kirsti, using her whole body, did rhythm motions with the kids that got faster and faster until we ended laughing the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt.

The children colored maracas and used them to dance to the music. It was a special, wonderful day of laughter and joy!

Craig teaching


It is good to be back with our Ray of Hope family!  August is a school vacation month, but the kids have come back this week for our enrichment curriculum full of dance, music, and arts and crafts.   The classrooms are extra full, as the 25+ kids who have graduated from the Ray of Hope Learning Center into the public schools are joining us for the week as well.    Robin, Kirsti, and I are organizing our week around the symphony “Carnival of the Animals”, with focuses in music, animals, geography and arts and crafts.   The class exploded with smiles when we brought out a variety of percussion instruments.    Everyone received a wooden maraca to decorate, and we ended the afternoon dancing and playing all of our instruments in a loud and energetic accompaniment of a video showing a percussion band on Venice Beach.


Christina helping the students
Today was special in so many ways. Finally meeting the staff and children at Ray of Hope was powerful and seeing the fruits of our teams labors come to fruition after months of planning individual curriculums was cool because the children were so stoked to be dancing, making symphony instruments or decorating the covers of their new life journals.

My personal project this year is called the Reflection Project. Words can be similar to a living organism - capable of growing, changing, spreading and influencing the world in so many ways, directly and indirectly, through others.  Words boast self-belief, self-confidence and self-esteem. The reason why words have the power to affect others so much is related to personal identity.  Words are very powerful. If we hear words that are affirming, reinforcing of who we are and desire to be, we are likely to accept them as an accurate description of who we are, which then increases our motivation to fulfill and enhance that description even more. 

Every day, each student will pick a name out of a hat and deliver a compliment or affirmation. By the end of the week, each child will have delivered 5 complements to their peers, and in turn, will have received 5 in return. The children will also be making an arts and crafts project that will "come alive" over the course of the week. Plain white frames will ultimately burst with color using pipe cleaners, buttons, glitter, and feathers. And on the very last day, they will be gifted a mirror to put behind their frames.  The message here is to confirm how wonderful the children felt when they were receiving those daily complements and affirmations - but to communicate that there may be a span of time when they do not receive a complement or affirmation - but not to be discouraged. Because all they simply need to do is take a look in the mirror, see their powerful reflections for themselves, and remember the greatness, strength and beauty that they already know lies within them.


Today we arrived to the Ray of Hope School and clinic.  We finally got to meet the staff and students.  After unpacking all the wonderful gifts and donations given by the Glide community and friends, we were given a tour of the R.O.H facility.  Just before the tour ended the staff had the team sit for a presentation in our honor, welcoming us.  The children walked into the room, totally quiet, in formation, eyes glaring, focused in our direction.  The teacher gave a signal and the group began.  What came next, no one could have ever prepared me for.  The children, in perfect unison, began to welcome our group, in perfect English, stating our names individually, and thanking us for not abandoning them and continuing to come back. Then they ended with the most beautiful song, before the end of which, kids from the group leaped out of formation, pulled us out of our seats to dance with them until the song was finished.  It was by far, one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  I was stunned and shell-shocked by it all. It took all the strength within me to not burst into tears.  I will never forget the way that moment made me fill.

Working with the children, teachers, and my teammates today has been an immense honor.  I can’t wait for tomorrow to come. My soul is good!

The Welcome Poem


It was great to return to Ray of Hope. This is Glide’s third trip back and it has been great to develop and deepen relationships with the Ray of Hope staff and students. Hugs were in abundance today!

All the staff at Ray of Hope—whether in the clinic or learning center—are incredibly dedicated to the people they serve, particularly the children. The staff regularly take into their homes children who have been orphaned or abused. They go the extra mile and then some to make sure those they serve are safe and cared for.

Evelyn, one of the teachers, talked about how many of the children are HIV+, or orphaned, or living with violence or abuse. Many, when they are not in school, go hungry. As a result, they come to Ray of Hope with many behavioral issues. One boy used to beat her whenever he came to school. “We just kept loving him, and now he is a changed boy,” she told us. “It is all about love here. We know that by loving people, they become transformed. This is what God promises us. This is why we make sure the children who come to Ray of Hope know they are loved.”

I think this is why we have found such a great partnership with Ray of Hope, for this is what we know to be true at Glide as well. When we love, really love another, meet them where they are with the power of love, transformation happens. And it is not just the person who is loved who changes. The person reaching out in love changes as well.

Our Kenyan friends are teaching and loving us well. And we have no doubt that when our time is done here, we will be changed, too.


  1. In tears.......thank you all for blessing everyone involved. WE love you all........

  2. What an amazing opportunity! Prays and thought are with you guys : )

  3. just thrilled to hear what you are experiencing
    thank you so and blessings to all, Anne