Read part 1 here.
Packing for our trip was the beginning of the adventure. Patrick and I were each asked to fill one of our checked bags with supplies for the kids. We borrowed the largest suitcases possible and filled them full. The people of our church donated so many things! Amazingly, everything they donated fit perfectly into our luggage. There wasn’t room for even one more item. It’s funny how God works sometimes, isn’t it?
I’m going to skip most of travel details. If you are dying to know something specific, feel free to ask.
Originally, we were going to fly out with the group from Dallas, but it proved to be less expensive for us to just meet them in Nairobi. Bad weather made them miss their connecting flight in London, so they had to stay the night. Another couple from Dallas flew separately as well. They arrived in Nairobi the same night we did. The rest of the group arrived the next day.
Here’s what I wrote in my journal about Nairobi:
Nairobi smells of diesel fuel always. Traffic and driving is crazy. There don’t seem to be any clear rules. On the way to the airport, there was one stop light – that police were directing traffic through, lots of traffic circles, and 2 police checks that no one stopped at – just drove around the spike strips. Our bus driver treated the bus as if it were a compact car weaving in and out of traffic. On the way back from the airport, we saw our first stop sign, although our driver just slowed a bit and rolled right through it. It doesn’t quite feel like “Africa” yet. It feels like a big, dirty city with lots of crazy drivers, lots of pollution, but in a strange place – rainforest trees, unfamiliar bird sounds…
From Nairobi, we flew to Kisumu (on Lake Victoria), which finally felt like “Africa.”
It was much greener than Nairobi. The air was cleaner.
The drive to Busia was beautiful.
Because of the travel delays (and a couple of blocked roads),
we missed attending the church service with the kids.
We were all looking forward to experiencing worship with them, but we didn’t arrive in time.
The kids we were going to meet are a part of a program called KidsHeart Africa.
These specific kids have all had parents that died from HIV/AIDS.
They live with relatives or other foster parents in the community rather than in an orphanage.
It is because of the KidsHeart program that these kids can stay with family.
Usually, it would be too expensive for someone to take in extra children.
The KidsHeart program helps provide the families with the things needed to take care of the children.
They get help with clothes and medicine.
There is a community garden and a well.
There is even a child development center for preschool age kids.
The KidsHeart program has affected the lives of the entire community.
Finally, we arrived at the Catholic Center.
The kids were very excited to meet us.
They ran alongside the bus as we entered the yard.
They shook, touched, or held all of our hands as we exited the bus.
Honestly, it made us feel like celebrities, but we knew we didn’t deserve that status.
After all, we were there to see them.
In our minds, they were the special ones.
Some of the children greeted us with, “How are you?” in the cutest Kenyan accents.
Every one of them had a great big smile. Their smiles were highly contagious.
Several of the older kids spoke some English – some of them spoke it pretty well.
Most of the younger kids did not speak English.
In Busia, most of the residents speak a local language called Luhya; some speak Kiswahili;
some understand English, but don’t speak it; and some speak English well.
Kenya has 2 national languages – English and Kiswahili.
Most people also speak a native tribal language.
We spent time with the kids playing games with them and getting to know them. They liked our cameras – they wanted us to take pictures of them, and they wanted to take pictures of us.
The mission coordinator from the Dallas church introduced us to all of the kids. One of the local workers translated what he said into Kiswahili.
He explained to the kids that we traveled 5 days (because of all of the delays) just to see them.
He said, “I have one child in the US, but I have 47 children in Kenya.”
He told them of how the church loves them and has lots of pictures of them everywhere.
Each of us introduced ourselves to the group.
We went outside and played circle games.
Most of their group games involve singing and dancing.
We dispersed into free play after a while – football (soccer), passing balls by kicking or throwing, jump rope, and just running around.
We had tea with the kids.
Then, we played some more.
Sadly, day 1 was over, and we had to leave.
We said, “Kwaheri” to the kids and headed for our hotel.
At the hotel, we discussed the plan for the next day and got the crafts ready.
We helped make friendship bracelets for the kids –
enough for all of the foster kids plus some of the neighborhood children.
Part 3 will conclude with more interactions with the kids and the impact they had on me.
Read Part 3 here.