This past weekend was especially busy, as we had variety night (a night where every student signs up to do a different activity at different staff memebers' houses), caring community (each staff member is assigned a group of around 8 students that they meet with throughout the year), and outreach.
For Outreach, I signed up to be a part of the group that organized and held a thrift shop at the IDP camp just down in the valley from RVA. IDP stands for internally displaced person. The IDP camp was formed following the violence from the 2007-2008 elections here in Kenya. The people who live in these camps had to flee their homes, and many people lost their lives. They still do not have permanent residence outside of these kinds of camps. Below is a map I found on the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre website. It gives you some idea what I'm talking about and the estimate of IDPs here in Kenya.
Here at RVA, we get a large store of "thrift" items donated by students and staff when they leave at the end of their time here. We had shoes, clothes, kitchen items, bath products, books, toys, and school supplies that we took down. Our group of about 15 went down early on Saturday morning to organize the items that had been taken the day before. We set up in the church at the camp. Then we escorted people through the church to pick their 10-15 items. It felt like Jesus feeding the five thousand. More and more people came and lined up, nearly pushing to get in the door, and somehow we never ran out of thrift items to give away. By the time we had to leave, there were still more people and more items to give. It was quite amazing to see. I loved meeting the women I walked through with, and trying to communicate. Many of them were focused on getting just the right things, but there were a couple who really touched my heart.
One woman did not speak any English or much Kiswahili, and I did not speak any Kikuyu - her language. At one point, though she had something she had to ask me, and turned to a man nearby to interpret. He told me that she wanted a bible as one of her 10 items. I quickly searched a found two options for her to choose from.
Another woman named Mary asked for my help looking through the books. She loves to read and wanted to make sure to get a new book as one of her items. I helped her pick out a Princess Diaries book to enjoy. She stopped me right before I left saying thank you, and that many people had already asked to borrow the book when she finished it.
These interactions are things that I have been looking forward to about living here in Kenya. I love meeting the people and helping to meet their needs. It was an exhausting weekend, but completely fulfilling and worthwhile. I look forward to more opportunities to reach out to the people here in Kenya.
- I am starting to get sick - there has been a bug going around the school (especially in the dorms) and I think I may have caught it. My throat is very sore and my nose alternates between runny and plugged. I cannot afford to get sick right now because we have Titchie (elementary school) Sunday this weekend, and I am co-organizing the music.
- My phone is not working - I need to get a replacement and find a way to get it out here.