Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Simply Beautiful

   It's time to back up a bit and take you in with me to the slums of Dandora, located 15 km east of Nairobi. This was a day of firsts for me in so many ways.

    After our team loaded into the vans, it was incredible to see how quickly the view out our window changed, from the sights of the bustling, often colorful city to the desolation of the crowded, filthy  slums. There was a pervading sense of danger even before our driver told us to close and lock our windows. Seeing little girls walking barefoot and alone, my stomach dropped through the floorboards, as I could not imagine my child left to wander in Walmart, much less these trash strewn, beggar laden streets.

   There were people selling something every few yards and the items for sale ranged from shoes and sweaters to eggs and kale. Makeshift shanties lined the streets but in my estimation the customers were few and far between.
   Desperation. Hopelessness. Despair. Slavery.
   These were the words that were etched on every adult face I looked into. How do they go on like this? Why do they even try?
   The children were mostly a different story.
   Smiles, Curiosity, Energy, Playfulness.
   Compassion is wise to reach and rescue the children first.

     As we pulled into the Compassion compound, the atmosphere changed dramatically. It was a gated oasis from all that threatened to drown those on the outside and even I was relieved to
 rest my eyes from what we had just seen. We were welcomed with clapping and songs and of course, more tea!! These children from Dandora were so playful and friendly and they ALL wanted their picture taken!

 Our home visit took us back out into the choking, impoverished landscape, down a narrow alley and into a building that looked like a remnant of war. Stepping in through the door, darkness descended and we carefully made our way up three flights of concrete steps and into the tiny but clean home of Sharon, a Compassion sponsored child.

  Her father welcomed us in and seven of us sat hip to hip and almost knee to knee on the seats arranged in the room. Through the translator he expressed his gratitude for Compassion's intervention, as his daughter was wasting away from aids when they took her in and registered her with the project in Dandora. Treatment and a regular intake of medication brought her back from the edge. And while she is still fragile, her health is on the rebound and it comes as no surprise that she hopes to be a doctor someday.

Because of that interest, I showed her pictures of my son during his battle with cancer and encouraged her in her dream of one day helping others like herself and Caleb heal and thrive. I told her how grateful we were for Caleb's doctors and nurses and that I believed she would reach her goals.

It was such a small thing, to be able to look her in the eye and cheer her on. One small act and connection I will forever treasure.

   She rode back to the compassion project with us and we spent the rest of the afternoon together. She seemed tired and was content to stay in one place while the other children swirled in packs around us. I offered her my iPod and her face lit up when the music came rolling through my earphones. She added the glasses to complete her cool look! Of course I adored this girl more and more as the sun increased in intensity and the day lengthened out. She kept her sweater on while I was literally melting into the dust beneath my feet. We hugged many times before we finally parted ways. I will likely never see her again. It is a strange feeling.

 Sharon is only one girl in a sea of African  humanity.   

  Does she matter?

  Is her life worthy of rescue?

  Is Compassion wasting their time and effort for this one life?

All around me were laughing, galloping, rescued children. It was simply beautiful.....

There is one more child from this very project in Dandora, KE910, who is looking to you for friendship and support. His name is Harrison and he's been waiting for eight months to announce that he too has a sponsor....that he has been chosen.
Harrison Ngumbi is eleven years old and lives in Dandora with his mother and one sibling. Carrying water and running errands are his household duties. Soccer is his favorite activity!

I have his packet here on my desk and would love to help you claim Harrison as your own! You can email me at or leave me a message here on my blog.

One more picture!