Category Archives: SPOTLIGHT

Kenya Part 2 of lots

There are so many things I want to share with you about my trip to Kenya. I shared bits and pieces last week, but tonight I want to focus on the children in Kibera and how you might be able to help them.

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I’m going to inundate you with pictures. Because I’m a firm believer that you can see true life in someone’s eyes. These children have eyes like I’ve never seen before. They sparkle with wonder and questions and joy and love and laughter.

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They want to learn and be loved. They want to play and be silly and sing you songs. And they want to feel safe. Which is exactly what they find at school each day. Teachers who love them so much that they feel safe within the campus walls.

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Which is kinda crazy, to be honest. Because Kibera is anything but safe. Where extreme poverty like you have never seen is the only thing these children know. I promise you that you don’t know real poverty until you have smelled it. Where nine gang members had to walk us in and out of the slum each and every day we were there to keep us safe. Where the police shoot through babies to kill the men holding them up as shields. Where crime and sin run rampant.

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But they JOY!! The joy these children have because they know they are KNOWN and LOVED and SAFE and will be FED inside these school walls is UNREAL. They are taught book and common sense. They are expected to excel. And their SOULS are fed. Each and every day. And that’s the reason they are filled with so much hope.

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School is not free in Kenya. There’s no public neighborhood school that your kids automatically go to just by registering them in August. So for children in Kibera, where people live on less than $1 a day, there are a few other things that take precedence over your school tuition. Like food.

If you do go to primary school, you take a national exam in 8th grade to qualify to attend secondary school (high school), which will cost three times the pricetag of primary school. You have to get a C+ on that exam to go to secondary, and that grade also tells you where you can apply to school. Better exam grade gets you into a better secondary school. Got lower than a C+? Too bad. You don’t get to go to secondary. Can you even imagine being 14 and knowing that your future has taken such a DRASTIC turn?

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There are over 20 children at this school who still need sponsors. It’s $30 a month and $27 of that goes DIRECTLY to the school. (All is tax-deductible.) Sponsorship helps cover education, daily hot meal for the child, food vouchers for the family and some medical care for the child. Kenyan staff checks in regularly on the family and child, and they are invited to participate in church/school activities. Kids in this program are currently in elementary and secondary school but our hope is to help each child go as far as they can academically, knowing education is such a key part of breaking the cycle of poverty.

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And there’s a really good chance that I met the child you decide to sponsor. He or she probably pet my mzungu hair or hugged me or laughed at me trying to read their Swahili book or chased me through the “halls” of the school campus. I promise you each of the kids has a special place in my heart that I will share with you when you become a sponsor.

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Join me in giving these kids a bit of a kickstart. Help them have a chance to go to secondary and UNIVERSITY! Imagine how these children will change the face of Kibera and Nairobi!! These children, who I have hugged with my very own arms, need your help. I’m not going to be shy about asking you to help them. The tragedies they have already overcome are something I will not share publicly on this forum. But they are real and these kids deserve better. They deserve the love and support they receive at school.

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Just look at them. They are SO thankful for their sponsors. Because they wouldn’t have the joy and hope in their eyes if it wasn’t for this school and what they have learned there about their importance in the world. They have learned that they are just as important as you are. You were just born into a different family in a different neighborhood. That’s the primary and most significant difference between you and them. And I promise you that one hug from a single child in that school and you’d wish you were with them forever.

IMG_8361If you’d like to sponsor one of these kids, please email my dear friend and travel companion Cindy Neal with Kenya Mercy Ministries at cindy@kenyamercyministries.org. Or talk to me and I’ll put in you in touch with Cindy as well. Can’t afford $30 a month? Pair up with another person or family to sponsor a child. Want to offer more than $30 a month? SAWEEEET! 😉 We have some students who will be attending secondary next year and like I mentioned above, secondary costs about $100/month per student.

Let’s get some kids sponsored, yes?

 

 

SPOTLIGHT: A trip to Kenya

Holy cow, it’s been FOUR MONTHS since I last posted.

Yikes.

But I’m back with important news, friends! I’m heading to NAIROBI, KENYA in March!!image3

I’ve wanted to go to Africa for many, many years. The first chance I had to go was over 10 years ago, when a friend at church was putting together a trip that happened to fall on the same week as our annual family vacation with my parents. So I (heartbreakingly) opted not to go, which was actually a blessing because I found out I was pregnant with Cameran shortly after and I would have been due the same week.

But ever since then I’ve been dreaming of how I would get there. I’ve been relentless with my dear friend Sarah (of JabuAfrica, you should check them out here) to take me with her and the stars just haven’t aligned.

Until now.

My friend Cindy (the same friend who was taking a group from my church 10 years ago) invited me to travel with her on a vision trip for Kenya Mercy Ministries to a slum of Nairobi called Kibera. Kenya Mercy Ministries (KMM) exists to financially support the Mamlaka Foundation whose mission is to serve the urban poor in Kenya, under the direction of Imbumi and Martha Makuku.image2I have heard the Makuku’s speak a few times and they are truly amazing people doing amazing things for God’s people. Here’s an excerpt about them from the KMM website:

In 2002, (Imbumi) began the Kibera Reformed Presbyterian Church (KRPC) in the poorest section of the Kibera slum, Silanga Village.

Since then, the Makuku’s ministry, under the Mamlaka Foundation, has expanded to include a school, feeding program, and health education outreach at the church, as well as the purchase of land outside the slum that includes a guest house, the Shunem Family Home (a place where they could safely house children, mostly girls, who were in extremely bad situations of abuse or abandonment), a ‘farmhouse,’ vegetable gardens, livestock, gristmill, and most recently, the Hope Community Church.

The ministry is not an easy one.  Imbumi describes Kibera as “degrading, undignified, and having no privacy. It is the rape capital of Kenya. Sin is out there in its raw form. It is not hidden. It is all there right before your eyes. If God is not with you, you are a ‘sitting duck’ for Satan. The enemy will get you very, very quickly. Ministering in a slum as a pastor is not easy. It can be very lonesome. The opposition from the enemy is very, very fierce. It is Satan’s domain where he rules in all his power and where as you enter in, you feel very oppressed. Even after being in the slum for only a few hours, you come out feeling like you have been in a boxing ring. You come out very physically and spiritually drained. It is because Satan will not let his people, his captives go very easily. He will do everything possible to make sure that those people do not come to Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the world.”

So why Kibera? For some reason I’ve always felt a pull to Africa during my adult years. I think it’s partially because I have a heart for people who are screwed by their history, whether it be crappy parents or a corrupt government. And those kids’ faces, they just put a smile on my face and an ache in my heart. And I want to help them.image1So that’s what I’m doing. Our team is going to Kibera to work with the Makuku’s to figure out how to send the kids in their lower school to high school. Kibera is one of the poorest communities in Kenya and education is one of the greatest keys to breaking the cycle of poverty. In addition, high school is up to three times as expensive as the lower school, which could quickly become a financial burden on KMM  – something we don’t want to happen.

I can’t wait to tell you their stories. Show you their faces. Figure out how to fund high school education. (Isn’t that crazy?! That we’re having to FIGURE OUT HOW TO FUND HIGH SCHOOL for these Kenyan children?! Did you know there are over 80 high schools just in Indianapolis alone? I’ll gladly take my school choice problems over Kibera’s education problems any day.)image4

Want to help? One way you can help is by directly sponsoring a child through KMM by clicking here. It’s $30/mo and $27 of that goes directly to Mamlaka Foundation for the school. There are about 20 kids who are in need of a sponsor right now.

Or you can support my trip. I’m hoping to raise $1,800 to fund the trip. Thanks to a surprising and generous donation of $1,000, I have $800 left to meet my goal. You can email me at katieunscripted @ gmail.com if you’d like to support me financially. And our team would LOVE your prayers – for safety, clear guidance, patience and extra love and grace for the children and the KMM team already in Kibera.

I can’t wait to tell you all about my trip. 🙂 I’ll be returning 2 months from today!!!

SPOTLIGHT on local non-profit JabuAfrica

I’ve mentioned lately that I’ve been struggling to write here, primarily because I feel like my brain is scattered and I’m not sure how to share all of that mess. But what has happened in this absence is my desire to better use this “platform” for good. I’ll still be writing about what I’m thinking and feeling, but I’m going to narrow it down to a few things: my community, my parenting (choices and struggles) and my passions.

One way you’ll see this new focus is in a new monthly series about organizations that I think are doing amazing things. It’s called SPOTLIGHT and first up is an organization near and dear to my heart: JabuAfricaJabuAfrica_RGB.1.2

A little tidbit about me: I’ve always wanted a brown baby. Always. Like, I can’t remember NOT wanting a little brown baby. The night before I got married (to a white man), my mom said to me, “Katie, you know you’re not going to have a brown baby biologically now, right?”

Another little (more important) tidbit about me: I have a HUGE passion for kids who grow up in less than ideal conditions – physically or emotionally. I imagine the differences between the hearts of my children (who aren’t parented perfectly for sure, but who have more than basic physical necessities and are loved through and through and are told and shown that every single day) and those kids who are never hugged, told they’re loved, tickled, laughed with or feel complete joy from a parent.

One more tidbit: I’ve always felt a pull towards Africa. I can’t explain it. My close friend Sarah Castor sums it up perfectly. She writes “There is a Congolese proverb that says, ‘You can outrun what chases you but not what is inside you.’… For whatever reason, my heart has always been pulled there…” This resonates within me exactly.

There is such amazing beauty in the African land.

Photo credit: Sarah Castor

Photo credit: Sarah Castor

There is also extreme generational poverty like nothing I’ve seen.

Photo credit: Sarah Castor

Photo credit: Sarah Castor

In comes JabuAfrica. Sarah (and her husband Dave) adopted three boys from Africa. Their sons were born in South Africa, Ethiopia, and Democratic Republic of Congo respectively. And it was out of their adoption journeys that she founded JabuAfrica to work as a partner walking alongside initiatives that empower Africans and provide the resources for leaders to rise up and lead their communities.

I love what Sarah says in this: “It was my love of Africa that led me to adopt but it is now my deeper love and understanding that motivates me to empower families so that poverty does not determine a mother’s story, a father’s story or a child’s future.”

I love that so much. And that’s exactly what JabuAfrica and it’s partners are doing: empowering families. It’s what we all want, right? To feel empowered to make the best choices for our families? The thing is, we already have a million legs up simply by living in the US.

Last year, I was given the amazing opportunity to hear about with JabuAfrica is doing with one of it’s partners, Giving Back to Africa. I was speechless and my heart was filled while listening to and seeing the impact the programs are having in the DR Congo. PLEASE take the next 7 minutes and watch this video to see how they are helping the Congolese people take control over the future of their people.

There is so much more I want to tell you. More about JabuAfrica and its partners. More about Sarah and her love that is completely contagious. But you can read all about it on their website. What I really want you to do is get involved. I did because I was giving to a big international organization and I was seeing reports after reports about how little money actually goes to those programs and even more so, programs that were actually empowering its people. Since I personally know Sarah and her heart, I know my giving is being used in the best way.

How can you get involved you ask? Sign up for updates from JabuAfrica through their website. Donate if your heart is in this like mine. Go to their big fundraising event in July. (I’ll totally be there and I’d LOVE for you to join me! And it’ll be FUN. I promise you that.)

And ask me about it in person. I’d love to share more with you. And hopefully one day I’ll be able to show you my own pictures of Africa and share my own stories of the people. Once Sarah agrees to take me with her on her next trip. 🙂