Going to School

Yesterday we went to school.

We thought we were going to Hope House to put on a fare for the neighborhood kids with face painting and ballon animals and candy prizes. We actually did put on that fare, and I had a great time trying to maintain a semblance of a line while the Loring women did their magic with balloons for the kids. Well over 100 kids came, it was a bit chaotic and it was fantastic, but then we went to school.

Edward, Ellis, Benjamin and Hillary are the ones who schooled us.

These are 4 of the young men we met 5 years ago when we first came to Kenya. They were just kids then, living in deplorable conditions in a Nairobi slum. Even then they were very impressive, but with their living conditions, it was almost as if they were fueled solely on the love and belief of God through the Afwais. They had daily sustenance, they had the shirt on their back, frayed school uniforms and education. They had a spirit that immediately captured your heart. They absolutely had nothing else.

Now their living environment is a beautiful farm with space to play and work. They have house parents and a social worker. The children in the neighborhood look up to them. They are young men. The kind of young men you’d be proud to call your own, the kind that any father wants to be an influence on his sons.

After our part of the fare, these young men took over and for 2 hours had 100+ neighborhood children, most of them under the age of 8, mesmerized with activities. Raucous laughter and screaming, direct compliance with requests, playing games, waiting patiently, having an absolute blast. They effortlessly displayed world class leadership, charisma, team work, ingenuity and patience. If these guys were in USA, their calendars would be fully booked running children’s camps, except they’d probably be surgeons instead. Words can’t really convey what a stunning job they did putting on the fare. As I watched them, I couldn’t help contrast their crowd interaction ability with mine. Of course, they have the advantage of culture and language. But then I have the advantage of experience and age.

Also, I am not an orphan. I haven’t had to overcome massive trauma to get where I am now. These guys are teenagers and it was a pleasure to learn from them.

At one point our guys were huddled in an inner circle, planning the next game. The neighbor kids were in a large outer circle, waiting for the next game to be announced and that is when it hit me. Without Fred and Alice and Light Up Hope, the kids in the inner circle would still be in the outer circle. The current leaders would be stuck in the cycle. All that potential trapped under the ceiling of poverty.

No doubt, these young men and women still have a precarious road ahead of them, but they have hope. Real opportunity. They have a lighted path. Thanks for helping make it possible.

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