by Christian Yoder, MITS administrative coordinator
It smelled like earth and tasted of chai. It dressed in bright fabrics and knew the meaning of hospitality.
It has lively music and busy streets, with chapatti on every corner and some of the best mangos around.
It was a place I’d never been, which felt new and exciting, but it also brought memories with it.
Dr. Chad Stephens had his work cut out for him when he agreed to visit our Eastleigh Centre and provide medical aid to street kids. Many children on the streets have dire needs—gangrene, raw flesh, wounds that are three years old, cleaned and dressed, again. Due to lack of access to clean facilities or knowledge of proper wound care, they'll return to the centre with these same festering wounds multiple times. Our Eastleigh Centre staff have basic first aid training and can provide wound care, but it is rare for a doctor to visit the centre.
Trying to accurately depict Kenyan street life, as a filmmaker who grew up in middle class America, is almost an impossible challenge. But if you spend enough time at MITS, you’ll find that these students, and former street kids, have enough talent in their bones and courage in their hearts to share their stories with anyone who will listen—through songs and raps and spoken words.
But “anyone who will listen” tends to be limited to talent shows in chapel every Thursday. And because God has written incredible stories of redemption into their souls, I firmly believe these kids need a wider platform than that. So with the encouragement of Irene, and the enthusiasm of one student in particular, I grabbed the one thing that could give these voices a stage they deserve—my camera.
Now, let me tell you about Peter: talented, well-spoken, brilliant, resilient. And his spoken word about growing up in the streets of Nairobi reflected all of that and more. He’s brutally honest and throughout his two-minute long poetically spoken piece, he humbly gives all of the glory to God.
It was a challenge getting the audio just right—and we ended up having to re-film. It was a challenge finding an atmosphere with no noise and a challenge translating his slang Swahili into coherent English subtitles. It was a challenge filming on the streets of Eastleigh—making sure that the street kids in the video were shown with dignity and personality and hope.
And it was a challenge trying to make sure that Peter’s artistic vision for the piece came true. Because for this video, I was simply the messenger.
And it was my favorite challenge yet.
Because of this humbling opportunity to videotape Peter, I am more aware than ever that the students here will always be the best voices for what God is doing in and through Made in the Streets. And I hope, so incredibly badly, that people will take the time to listen to these voices. For they are future world-changers. I’m sure of it.
by Meredith Mansfield
MITS Filmmaker Intern
This was by far the hardest video I’ve ever made—and it lasts a total of 47 seconds.
But it was because we faced the streets—where it was dangerous to even be holding a camera. And where I got yelled at by the Eastleigh MITS staff to put my camera away almost all of the time I was there—even during two of the shots that made it into the film (though I cut them out).
Because we traversed Nairobi to find a time-lapse shot of the sun going down. Which meant we had to go to and from the Kenyatta International Conference Centre twice. And we stayed on top of that building for two hours waiting for the sun to set, while Kaylee and Sloan got attacked by birds for having blonde hair and my camera battery died almost at the worst possible moment.
Because we trekked 3 miles in the mud to get the shot of Charles blowing flour into the camera and Matua giving Alex a haircut. And while the hot mud made us exhausted and annoyed, I loved that day. Because I got to have Charles and Jeff argue over who was going to blow the flour into the camera and I got to help Ruby make rice for lunch. And Tua came up to me shortly after, telling me that he was cutting Alex’s hair in a bit and he wanted me to film it. Which, I did (of course) and that made it into the video too.
But my favorite part of making this project is getting to show the final product to my friends here. I remember Laban, one of the students at the learning center, watching my video and pointing at the streets kids in the very first few shots and exclaiming, “that was my base!” And thinking, Laban could’ve been in that shot, with all of the street kids, if he hadn’t made the choice to join MITS. All of them could’ve been still on the streets.
And now, they just seem completely transformed. They’re wearing uniforms and they’re studying and they’re basketball players and football (soccer) players and they’re dancing to Chris Brown and making dinner every day all together while playing jokes on me in the process. They’re servant-hearted and hilarious and for some reason, they let me be a part of their little family here.
And the best part is that all I get to do these next few months is reveal parts of this new family, and parts of God’s transformative grace, to you through film.
Meredith Mansfield is spending summer 2018 living at our facility in Kamulu, Kenya, and sharing our world with you through film as a Filmmaker Intern. Check out our other internships here >>
Foregoing school, foregoing an education, Quinta took to the streets to find money. Her primary begging location took place among the stopped cars of traffic jams, where people would yell at her and say cruel things.
But the occasional driver would give her money.
Soon, Quinta realized that life on the streets would be better than life at home. Home was where her mother beat her. Home was where her father beat her and threatened abuse when she made him angry. Home wasn’t safe.
So Quinta lived on the streets with some other girls who were friends of hers. These kids introduced her to glue. Glue is a common substance used as a drug on the streets. Getting high from the glue, street kids can forget their problems; the cold, their hunger, their discomfort.
When I asked Quinta about life on the streets, these are some descriptions that she gave me:
“So, then sometimes there is no food in the street. There is no food, and the rain, the rain is coming and you don’t have shoes. You don’t have pullover, you are [alone], and you know when you are in base…you do not know God, and so you are like, this my life…I can survive.”
“And then, then if it is night, there is no city council, and the people, if people have a car, a car like a pick up…when they see street child… if you are a girl, they will take you, and they will use your body, or the police, or they will rape you and then throw you in the water.”
Sometimes, while living on the streets, well-intending policemen would take the kids to a school. This happened to Quinta during that same year, but she said that even though the police meant well, the school she was taken to was abusive:
“But that school, it is not like Made in the Streets. So that school, they will beat you, they will do for you bad things, they will use you like a donkey to do work, they use you, like they beat you, they say “wash this,” “do this,”
So Quinta ran back to the streets, where she stayed until, again, she was taken to a new school.
This school was different than her last school. This one treated her well and was good to the students.
However, because Quinta was so used to life on the streets, she often ran away to get back to her old life.
“I run. Because that life of street is in me, it is in my blood.
This went on for awhile. Quinta would run to the streets, they would bring her back, and she would run again. Eventually they brought her back to her mother, telling her that she had lost her chance to stay at the school.
Quinta ran from home again, this time joining a new base on the streets called Central Pack.
Central Pack made her stand on the streets to beg and give whatever she gathered to the other base members.
It was around this time that Quinta met the woman that would change her life forever. This womans’ name was Linda Ntinyari. Linda is a dorm mom in the girls place at MITS, but she also works in Eastleigh during the day with the street ministry team.
Quinta met Linda, who gave her food, encouraged her, and asked her if she wanted to learn and get an education.
Initially, Quinta refused. There were other girls in her base that saw her example and refused as well. Some time passed, and then Quinta changed her mind. She decided that she would go to MITS and learn. That she would stop using glue. That she would make a future for herself.
So next time she saw Linda, she agreed to attend Made in the Streets.
When she arrived, she not only found a new family among the students and teachers, but through a few MITS connections she found her birth father, whom she had never met. Unlike her step-father, he was a kind and loving man. Quinta was able to stay with him and get to know him for a few weeks before starting school, and she realized that she wanted to come back to MITS, study hard, and work to help provide for him.
This is Quinta, and she has big dreams. Although her life at home and on the streets came with unimaginable hardships, she isn’t letting her past define her. Today, she can be found studying hard in her classes, making friends with the other students, using her story for God’s glory, and eating her new favorite snack—marshmallows.
To learn more about how you can support and sponsor a MITS student like Quinta, click here.
Christian Yoder recently joined the MITS stateside team as our new Administrative Coordinator. As Made in the Streets grows, we've created more ways to stay in touch with donors and support the work our team is doing in Kenya. We are thrilled that Christian has decided to join forces with us to keep our work with street kids running smoothly. Read on to get to know Christian a little bit better and see why we're so happy she's on the team.
What brought you to MITS?
I actually came across MITS’s website while I was job searching. Having recently moved to Nashville, I was looking to do something that aligned with my passions and gifts. The more I read and the more I began to understand the mission of Made In The Streets, the more I wanted to be a part. So I applied, and a few steps later, here I am! I feel really honored to be on this team and involved in what God is doing through MITS.
What are some words you live by?
“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary, only wise men are able to understand them.” -my favorite book, The Alchemist.
What does an ideal weekend look like?
I do love a good road trip and a great, thought-provoking lookout (beach AND mountains). But I am content with most things as long as a few of my favorite people are there, good music is playing, and laughter is not scarce.
What excites you most about working for MITS?
The more I have experienced of different people, different cultures, the more I have come to realize we are all really similar as human beings. We all have something to give, and we all have something to learn. I am really excited to give what I can and to learn from this team, from our donors, and from a bunch of really great kids in Kenya.
As we are in the midst of this rainy season in Kenya, one of my favorite things is falling asleep to the rain crashing down on my tin roof. Growing up in California, I didn’t experience many thunderstorms - it was something so foreign to me. To paint you a little picture, the downpour I encounter in San Diego is about equivalent to Kenya’s sprinkle. The storms here are earth-shaking, powerful, yet so beautiful. Through the rains, power-outages, roaring thunder, and chilly nights, I am learning so much. I am learning to both love and endure these storms. I am learning just how powerful and mighty our God is. With simply a whisper, He can call the rains, calm life’s storms, and bring clear skies. Because of this, I am learning that an incomprehensible peace follows the storm and His mercies truly are made new every morning. (Lamentations 3:23).
Our world is a broken place, filled with broken people. Our lives are full of storms and struggles; and our individual storms in life all look very different. Some of our storms involve: feeling purposeless, unworthy, not enough; facing unemployment, divorce, idolatry; overcoming illnesses, addictions, relationship difficulties. These storms can appear without any warning or caution. Similar to the physical storms I’m experiencing in Kenya, life’s storms can also be muddy, messy, and uncertain. They bring fear and doubt. But when the rains cease and the clouds are rolled back, there is immense clarity, healing, and grace. The repercussion of rain leads to cleansing, growth, restoration. The land becomes green, fruitful, and lush. The old is thrown off and a new beginning is created in mercy. My prayer is that we would receive this mercy that He has poured out so perfectly and that we would remember that He is a great provider of refuge when life’s storms prevail. After all, He provided the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I could have our greatest needs met.
We are so excited to visit friends and loved ones across the United States in April and May! Check out our schedule below to see which cities we'll be passing through.
April 5-9 • New York City
April 10-13 • Dallas, Texas
April 13-17 • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
April 17-20 • Denver, Colorado
April 20-27 • Fort Worth, Texas
April 27 - May 1 • Nashville, Tennessee
May 1-4 • Malibu, California
May 4-7 • San Jose, California
Keep track of the nationwide adventures of Brad, Irene, and Monicah as they tour across the United States.
I have diligently begun each day physically with open hands, not gripping, clenching, or holding onto anything; wide open palms asking the Lord to teach me something new. Recently I’m learning that healing comes through divine faith.
Valentine's Day was celebrated this year at the Learning Center with a few students passing out bougainvillea petals, others exchanging notes of admiration, and even more students simply meandering about telling one another why they love and are grateful for each other. What a gift!
That evening, I was blessed to introduce and share Galentine’s Day with a couple of the girlies! Galentine’s Day is a day to celebrate with the girls and women in our lives whom we love, value, respect, and treasure so deeply. It was such a precious evening spent giggling and sharing stories. About half way through feasting on pb&j sandwiches, mangos, and chocolates, one of my sweet students abruptly (and quite out of the blue) announced that Jesus has saved her from sexual abuse on three separate accounts. Immediately, silence fell within this little cottage where we ate. Before questions could even be raised, she unexpectedly jumped into a series of stories of how her Savior has in fact “rescued her from rape.” As she was spilling her heart out to us, the only thing I could think was: How could you let this happen, God? Why would you let this happen? As soon as she was through giving the depths and details of each incident, she quickly looked up, smiled at me, and said, “He saved me. He is good.” Still speechless, the only thought I had now was: Miracles do happen. She is brave. Although, I know there is still much healing to be had, I also know that her strength is immense and our God is bigger than this pain.
When you do this for 20 years, you're bound to pick up a few stories and lessons along the way. Thoughts, impressions, news, and highlights from our staff, visitors, donors, students and alumni.