First day in Africa

Hello…good to see you!

I should start out by saying that a person who is too tired to have dinner or who has taken 2 Tylenol PM probably shouldn’t blog. But……I just had to share.

So, as you’ve read in my new previous post….I’m in Kenya right now (and Uganda starting the first of the week) for Sweet Sleep.

I’ve never been to Africa before. To tell you the truth, I never imagined I would EVER come to Africa. One reason being that I am very much afraid to fly and Africa is clearly a long trip. No thank you! But, as I’ve learned from many other things in life….Jesus had other plans.

So, to you I say, “Karibou” which means “welcome” in Swahali (did I spell that right?).

My immediate impression of Africa (after entering the airport, which reminded me of a Seinfeld episode) was that the people are incredibly friendly. My greater impression from the full day is that I’ve never seen happier people. Which says a lot because these children and the people who sacrifice so much to care for them have mountains of struggles to deal with.

Our first stop was to an orphange which is trying to rebuild after a fire. Right now the kids are jammed into what amounts to storage closets on rickety beds. The director of this orphanage is an amazing woman named Jane who is a second generation orphanage director: her mother began the orphanage and died two years ago. Jane is probably one of the top five resourceful people I’ve ever met. And now she is counting on Sweet Sleep’s resources to be able to provide beds for her children. She’s been able to get all sorts of deals and so the cost for all of the children’s beds and bedding came out to about $8300. I feel certain someone who will read this will feel led to provide for these 100 children (2 months to 16 years old) or know someone who will.

Our next stop led into our third: a walking tour of a slum where our tour guide was the Kenyan woman who ran both orphanages. The slum had been her only orphanage until she recently had to move it to a different location when the political/election violence led angry people to threaten to burn the whole slum down. Now the former shelter (read: tin and simple wood shack) now house street kids who live in the slum.

Lots of words come to mind to describe what we saw, but none really seem quite fitting. I’ll just leave it up to you once I am able to post pictures to this blog next week.

We had a few other stops in our day before ending by going to the second largest slum in Africa. More than One MILLION people (moms, dads, children, grandpas, grandpas, aunts, uncles…you know…..PEOPLE) live there.

I really can’t begin to describe it to you. And neither can the pictures. The rusted metal roofs cover simple wood or cardboard frames. Most of us probably have bathrooms the size of these “homes”, so imagine that their owners find things to do elsewhere. Suddenly you have what seems like a million people walking in the streets or sitting under a broken umbrella selling fruit or animal parts. There are dozzzzens of bright-but faded- shops everywhere you look offering a hair cut or more animal parts or even to charge your battery.

And then you come to the end of one street and hear the delightful sound of children’s voices singing. It was really an oasis in the midst of chaos.

I’ve never in my life seen anything like their home. To meet the orphanage director we had to climb–basically old, worn treehouse steps to get to the 2nd level of their orphanage. I really wasn’t sure my skirt and I were ever going to be able to make it back down.

I have absolutely no way to ever find the words to describe to you how these children sleep. Trust that the images I witnessed are forever in my mind and that I’ll let you know if I ever do think of words.

The miracle of it all is that money has been given—and property has been purchased–to build a new orphanage in the countryside. Work begins on that in April. The hope is to complete it in June. That’s when they’ll reallllly need beds. Perfect timing because it gives everyone plently of time to save their bucks and gift real beds, pillows and bedding to these tired children.

Okay—i am definitely feeling the TY PM…so I must stop abruptly.

See you again in the next blog!
Jen

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