In this season of giving, we are celebrating those who have given their time, love, and support to the work we've been doing over the last 22 years. Today we're sharing the story of Bill and Nell Rider, who first started visiting MITS 20 years ago!
Tell us about your visits to MITS over the years.
We visited MITS in 1997. It wasn't called MITS at the time, but the program was just getting started. The Coulstons were at KCITI and running a day school for street kids. We were there for 2 months. We taught some classes for the street kids and worked with the KCITI students some. I helped build a water heater for the boy's shower and worked on electrical projects. Nell altered clothes for boys, cut boys hair, treated them for head lice.
In 2005 we returned to MITS for a month. I taught woodworking, agriculture, and researched, designed, and supervised the building of the first metal hen house for laying hens. Nell worked with skills classes in tailoring, hair salon, and catering.
In 2006 we spent another month at MITS. We brought several computers and software funded by my Rotary Club to establish the "Virtual Library" for MITS. I taught woodworking building tables for sewing, dining hall, and classrooms. I also helped build the second hen house, and worked on ag projects while Nell worked with the skills and taught Bible classes.
In 2011 we returned for another month's stay. I taught woodworking, mainly concentrating of teaching how to build beds, chest of drawers, and fold down sofa. Nell again taught cooking and other skills topics.
Wow you've visited a lot over the years! What caused you to first want to get involved?
We first met the Coulstons when they lived in Redwood City several years before they went to Kenya. After I retired, we decided to volunteer to work with the Coulstons at their street school. Based on our experience, the Rotary Club got interested in helping us fund projects at MITS. The projects were: virtual library computers and software, hen houses including chicks and feed, complete set of major woodwork shop power tools, street teen mothers pilot project funding, major clinic funding, lumber and supplies for furniture building class, general support funds.
With the changing of the seasons comes an opportunity to acknowledge the blessings we all have in our lives that make each day an incredible gift. In this season of gratitude and generosity, we invite you to save the date for Tuesday, November 28, 2017.
Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy.
Keep an eye on our social media accounts, blog, and newsletter for fun ways for you to get involved with this season of giving. (#unselfie anyone?)
Across the US, September is a busy month for families.
As school starts, last minute back to school shopping for clothes, paper and pencils, and new shoes fill the days prior to boarding a bus destined for the local elementary, middle, or high school. For most, there is a reluctant excitement to heading back to school.
The same is true for many of our students here at Made in the Streets.
If you talk with a street boy or girl in Nairobi or with one of our students in Kamulu, they’ll be honest with you: there were elements to life on the streets that they liked and still occasionally miss. One common theme you'll hear over and over again is freedom: the ability to do what you want when you want. It’s one reason some kids on the street choose to stay on the street or have run away from our program in the past. But most will say that they can’t wait for the opportunity to move to Kamulu and join the ranks of hundreds of former street kids who have been given a new opportunity at life. That’s because MITS is more than a school; it’s a family.
Estimates suggest there are more than 250,000 street children in Kenya, with 60,000 of them living in Nairobi. With enrollment at MITS hovering around one hundred students, we’re merely a drop in the bucket. Yet we think each child is much more than a statistic. As students in your family, church, and community head back to school this month, we encourage you to remember the one hundred children just like them in many ways with a desire to learn and grow at a small school for street kids in Kamulu, Kenya.
by Brad Voss
MITS Executive Director
This week was an exciting one in Kenya. In only the second presidential election since the new constitution was approved in 2010, millions of Kenyans woke up Tuesday morning to make their voice and their vote count.
As I watched the long queues of people waiting to enter polling locations all across Kenya this week, I thought to myself, “That’s crazy,” and “Why would they wait so long in line?” Seeing the long lines of voters all across the country, despite the presence of rumored government corruption and threats of election-fueled violence, was inspiring and also somewhat confusing. In nearly thirty years of voting in local, state, and national elections in the US, I have rarely stood in line for more than 20 minutes. In fact, in most elections I’ve never stood in line at all. The idea of getting up before dawn, walking miles and miles to a polling location, and then standing in line for hours upon hours to cast a ballot has literally never crossed my mind.
The elections in Kenya this week are causing me to reconsider my own attitude. Have I taken for granted the opportunity I have to help choose my local and national leaders every few years? I think I have.
Do I lose interest fairly early in the 4-year election cycle filled with debates, political ads, ridiculous rhetoric, and fake news? Uh, yep.
Do I too often complain about the lack of good candidates running for office and then quickly become discontent when the winning candidate fails to do exactly what I want? Well, yes, I do that too. I have a serious problem. But I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
For far too long I have undervalued the importance of free and democratic elections that have occurred in the United States of America for my entire life and for 183 years before that. I think this is what happens when you are freely and easily provided with something for your whole life with very little threat that it will ever be taken away. I think growing up in a white, middle-class, American culture void of real disadvantage or distress planted seeds of contentment that grew into complacency. This gave way to full blown arrogance and encouraged me to seriously become indifferent about things like democratic elections….and quality education….and sanitation….and roads and beds and food and water……and the list could surely go on and on and on. But this week something feels different.
I think it’s because I now have friends who are voting in Kenya. I think it’s because I’ve heard their stories of how hard Kenya has worked to change and grow and develop. I think it’s because I’ve listened to them recount what life was like growing up without fair elections and access to education and clean water and enough food to eat each day. And maybe it’s because now I’m keenly aware of how many kids and teenagers and adults struggle to survive each day around the world.
All of a sudden, this week, the privileges and opportunities I’ve received seem so much more treasured and cherished. I’ll be praying for my friends in Kenya this week as they do the hard work of building a democratic society. I’m praying that election results will be met with peaceful reactions and hearty pledges to keep those in power accountable to govern fairly and graciously. And I’ll be praying that God reminds me daily that I have so much for which to be grateful and thankful. Join me in praying for Kenya this week and join me in supporting those who are working so hard to bring positive change and Jesus values to their homeland.
Tortillas, naan, pita--almost every cuisine in the world has its own cherished form of flat bread, but Kenyan "chapati" just might flatten the competition (nyuk nyuk nyuk).
Chapati is a favorite among both locals and visiting wazungu, (white people) and contrary to popular opinion, it's very easy to make. In this short instructional video, Chef Onesmas teaches everything you need to know about how to make this delicious Kenyan dish.
Filmed and edited byDavid Hutchinson
Music: Habanera, by Bizet
Wash your hands, find a mixing bowl, and let's get started! Here's the recipe, so you can follow along:
STEP 1: PREPARE INGREDIENTS
-- 2 cups flour
-- 1 tsp. salt
-- 2 tsps. sugar
STEP 2: MIX DRY INGREDIENTS BY HAND
STEP 3: ADD OIL AND WATER
-- 2 tsp. oil
-- 1/2 to 1 cup of water (if it's warm, the dough will be easier to knead)
STEP 4: KNEAD THE DOUGH, SHAPE INTO CIRCLES BY HAND
STEP 5: ROLL OUT THE CIRCLES
STEP 6: COOK THOROUGHLY
-- in a pan with a couple teaspoons of oil
-- spin and flip until crispy and brown
STEP 7: ENJOY
post by Winn Thomas, summer 2017 intern
“God calls us all to do some stretching every now and then because He knows it is good for us. He wants us to live in the faith zone, not the comfort zone, knowing that purpose and blessing accompany faith,” – Tracie Miles, “Your Life Still Counts”
On Sunday night, I arrived back to the States after being at Made in the Streets for three months. Returning to my life in the States has been a very joyful and challenging process. I find myself struggling to explain to others what I have experienced and the impact Kenya has made on my life.
by Brady Bates, summer 2017 Street Ministry Intern
As a street ministry intern, I spend most of my week at MITS' intake center at Eastleigh, which is a neighboring area to downtown Nairobi. An average day consist of half of our team going on base walks while the other half stays back and runs the program for the day.
Bases are areas throughout the city and suburbs where street children and adults congregate and call home. A base could be anything from a tree to an abandoned plot of land in which the members of that base hang out and sleep. Between the bases, there can often times be tension and conflict over territory, drugs, food or women very similar to that of gangs back in the states. While there are a number of similarities to the gangs we may be familiar with they are far less hostile and more survival based in my experience. The best way I can explain the bases is if Neverland from Robin Williams' classic movie Hook collided with Lord of the Flies. Rather than imaginary food fights and whimsical tree forts these boys walk around with metal pipe ties as rings (serving as a make shift set of brass knuckles in case of a fight), using drugs and sleeping under old cardboard or on mounds of trash. These bases are where the heart of the ministry starts.
Our team will go on a number of base walks a week in order to recruit new students into program in the hopes that God will transform their lives. An average base walk will include some chit chat with the boys followed by a lesson and words of encouragement spoken by one of our team members then a snack for the boys. With each base walk we try to encourage the boys to come to our center in Eastleigh and see what we're about. We stress to them that God loves them and we want them to know Him and for Him to change their lives. It's at this point that the seed is often planted and the ones God calls hear the message and show up.
Back at Eastleigh we have programs each day that offer breakfast, Bible lessons, lunch and games. This is where we start building relationships and noticing the ones who are consistently coming and want to change their lives. We periodically have intakes of students, which primarily take place after the graduation of a class or the opening of spots due to one of the boys or girls running away. Thanks to God I was able to be a part of an intake and see the entire process.
During our first week in Kamulu we had two boys run away, which left some open spots for some new students and kept our eyes opened for new candidates. A few weeks ago, the team was blessed to find a girl and bring her back to Eastleigh so she could stay at our property. Girls are extremely rare to find on base walks because they are less in number and are also either sent to work during the day or are hidden from us because of their value for sex. When we do find a girl it becomes a high priority situation and they can be brought into our Eastleigh center for protection from the Streets and all the dangers they bring. Two days after finding Linda we found another girl named Quinta who was also brought into our Eastleigh location.
Over the next week we interviewed a number of boys in preparation for the upcoming intake. This was one of the hardest things I've dealt with since being here. Investing so much time and emotion into the relationships we make at Eastleigh is a beautiful thing but also brings with it the potential for heart break. I was honored to have a say as to which boys we took in. Monica and Linda allowed me to help with interviews and bring in potential boys who I thought were ready.
One of the biggest benefits of my time spent at Eastleigh is the appreciation of how far the students at Kamulu have come. That alone has been worth my time there and has grown my love for those back at Kamulu that much deeper. It can be easy for me to forget where these kids come from and all the adversity they've had in order to be where they are. Seeing the bases, the influences, the hunger and the struggles they faced on the streets on a daily basis then coming back home to see how much they've grown has caused my heart to overflow with love for them. Some of them have shared parts of their stories about how they heard about MITS, why they were on the streets and the spiritual warfare and powers of evil they faced on the streets before they even reached their teens and it's absolutely humbling. I sit on my porch at night and look out on the property as the boys play soccer and cook dinner as a team and reflect on how contrasting our lives have been.
I come from an upper class American family where at the age of thirteen my entire family was attending my recreational soccer league games on the weekends and never had to worry about where the next meal came from.
My dad always tells me that none of us choose the cards we're dealt in life. We don't choose the parents we are born to or the place we are born but one thing we often can choose is what we do with that card. These boys and girls didn't choose to be born into broken families who's separation of parents put them on the street or lack of money caused them to have to live off of garbage and fend for themselves. They didn't choose to have no idea where their next meal came from or what their future would hold. They didn't choose to lose their parents to AIDS or be beaten and disowned by their step parents. All of those things were out of their control and given the choice I'd say most of them would rather have not had them happen. One choice they all shared was to make a change in their lives and strive for something more. They all chose to be at MITS and worked hard for the privilege to learn and pursue more than what they had been given.
I've heard stories from the boys about catching a ride on the back of a dump truck and riding for hours every morning to attend the Eastleigh program and show that they really do want to change. I've seen the trash dumps that some of them had to sort through for plastics and metals at thirteen in order to provide money for their mom and siblings to eat. These kids are warriors and have overcome so many obstacles that would put me on my knees resenting the one who made me. It's by the grace of God that they were able to break free from the hardships of the streets and have an opportunity to pursue a future and learn about their Father in heaven and the love Jesus has for them. It's a great honor and blessing to be a part of this team and the lives this ministry is affecting.
I want to say thank you to all who support this ministry through time, finances and prayer. Without your willingness to let God use what you have to offer this ministry wouldn't be possible. Within days of our new students arriving into program we had sponsors already lined up to support and encourage them. Praise God for you people and the hearts you have for this ministry whether you've been here or not. Keep doing what you're doing and letting God use the gifts he's given you because He is alive and working to change the lives of hundreds in powerful ways
"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping it together is progress. Working together is success."- Henry Ford.
One of the ingredients of coming together, keeping together and working together is establishing good relations. Here are a few of the relationships that have made Paulsen Asitiba's summer internship meaningful.
Darlene and Charles Coulston are the founders of made in the streets. Since I came here, Darlene has been acting as my mom. Every morning after chapel she greets me with a smile on her face and that really boosts my morale. In almost every conversation we have I learn something new from her. One day she came to the skills centre computer lab and told me that made in the streets set up the computer lab just this year because they realised how much the skills kids need to know about computer. She went ahead to tell me about the importance of them learning the positive things they can do with computers today, those words ring in my mind every time I teach and try to advise the kids. This adds that extra burst of motivation to work harder.
As a result of the good relations with Darlene, one morning she told me that my family was more than invited to come and see what we do here in MITS. I certainly arranged for that and when they came, they passed by her home. We had a good time, new friendships were created (my family, Charles and Darlene). That makes me feel at home in MITS.
Darlene always tells me that if I need any advice from a mother, she will definitely be there for me……I consider that highly valuable.
MOSES OKOTH AND STELLA WANGARI
Moses and Stella are both IT team members. My first few days here I had to learn from them because I worked with them in the IT department. Stella took me to a couple of her classes to see how she teaches. The step by step explanation, the way she answered the students’ questions and her desire to help them set the pace for me. I always use her class as a template when I teach. She also gave me a very good orientation and that’s why it didn’t take long for me to settle here. She is such a blessing.
Moses Okoth is another great friend and teammate. One day he walked me through the MITS internet infrastructure to explain how it worked. The theme of our conversations was how we can we work together to improve the IT department. It was a positive conversation. I learned that Moses always looks to improve MITS from the IT department and soon we are having an internet upgrade, can't wait for that. Moses is a great team member.
BRANDON (JUNIOR) AND JEREMIAH
Brandon and Jeremiah are both skills students. They are both great friends. They would spend most of their time in my room every evening before Jeremiah left. During supper time Jeremiah would try and make sure we eat together and later have a conversation with them. That made me learn much more about their lives. Brandon loves football and his greatest footballer is Lionel Messi. We train together and he works hard on the training ground. I can tell how good a player he can be from the dribbles he makes during a soccer match. One day after a soccer training session, Brandon told me that he thanks God for made in the streets because it provided a platform where he can play football and practise catering as his skill and dream career.
He loves playing against me because he knows dribbling past me is easy for him!!
Sharon Musonga is another great student who is in her final year in doing catering. One day during the students and teachers home visit, Sharon came to me and told me she would like me to escort her to her home to see where she comes from. I accepted to help her home and I met her guardians. They were so happy that her mum asked me to spend a few hours at her small kiosk where she cooks and sells food.
The few hours I spent there were so good, we created a good relation and she said she had much expectation in her daughter. I could see the hope she had from the way she talked, she said "judging from the way MITS has helped change my daughter’s life I pray and believe that she is the one who will help her siblings in future.”
That serves as a reminder to me that I should always work hard in my internship to help the kids reach their expectations in life.
Brady Bates is another intern who came in the summer to help out in street ministry. It was my first time meeting him less than four weeks ago and he is certainly one of my best friends now. He works hard and is committed to his internship. Some evenings we meet to talk about how our days have been. We share what we did on that day and how best we can work to be of help in this ministry.
Above all, we always end our conversations with a word of prayer asking God for more wisdom to be able to help this ministry as much as we can….Great lad!!
This week I prayed for opportunities to have intentional conversations.
And boy did God deliver!
My sweet friend Ruby (above right) and I had lots of great conversations this week. Ruby is a graduate of Made in the Streets (MITS) and has a five-year-old son named Dennis. The last time I was at MITS, Ruby was the cook for our group, and I was able to get to know her well. Ruby is now the cook for the Learning Centre. We have struck up a quick friendship and have been spending a lot of time together. Almost every afternoon we take an “exercise walk” around the village, either to the grocery store or the salon (that was quite an experience!) or to her house to check on her son. These walks have been such a gift to me. It is a great time to get out of the MITS campus and get a break, but also a great time to talk with Ruby about her life and her faith. On Sunday after church, Ruby invited me to her house for lunch Sunday after church. I know it was a sacrifice to cook for me. We sat and ate and sat and ate some more for over three hours on Sunday. I am truly so thankful for her and our friendship.
Jeremiah & Amos
On Monday, I arrived at chapel at 9:40 after being told chapel started at 9:45. Turns out it didn’t start until 10 however, two of the older boys were there early as well. The three of us were able to talk for twenty minutes about everything from running for exercise (converting miles to kilometers using a phone!) to the sermon from Sunday. It was a great way to connect with those two boys and one I would have missed if I had been told the correct time! After my session, these boys again asked me questions about scenarios when they graduate. We discussed the fears and worries. As we continued talking, they both opened up about their past. I continue to tell the students how proud I am of them to choose a different life than the streets and to choose to survive. They students have had such difficult pasts but have completely changed their lifestyle. God is good!
Paul is another intern at MITS. He is Kenyan and working with the IT team members. Paul and I spent a couple hours together one afternoon and discussed Kenyan culture vs. American culture. It was a very eye-opening conversation. At one point in the conversation, Paul asked if it was true that in America there are drink machines where you just pay for the cup and can fill it up with as much drink as you want. I told him that was true and laughed thinking that was the one thing that stood out to him of things he had heard about America.
Women’s bible study
On Thursday, I was sitting at the learning center trying to use the wifi when some of the female staff members came and asked if I wanted to join their bible study. They were studying James 1. They blew me away with how deep they study and apply the word to their lives. I cannot wait to continue studying with them.
Quinter & Lucy
Quinter and Lucy are two students in the skills program. They are both studying catering and love to practice their skills. I have provided the ingredients and they have cooked two meals for me (beef samosas and stew). Both have been beyond delicious and filling! At the last meal they cooked for me, I provided an appetizer of mac and cheese. They had never had it before and absolutely loved it, especially Shania, Quinter’s daughter. It has been so great to share a great meal with these two and get to know them and their stories on a deeper level.
I feel as though I am finally in a routine. Walking through the village during the day with Ruby is always hilarious. Adults and children run out of their houses and businesses to say “How are you” to me (usually the only English the kids know). They yell “mzungu” meaning “white person” and love to shake my hand. Ruby says we must walk through the village every day for exercise and to bring joy to the people. I tell her that in the States no one runs out to shake my hand! Among other sweet things that have happened while I have been here, Caroline, one of the students, gave me a bracelet that says “mum” because she said I am like all the the girl’s moms. So sweet and something I truly treasure.
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.