Over the past three weeks as a teaching intern in Kamulu, I’ve experienced much joy, strength, doubt, love, belonging, peace, pain, forgiveness, confusion, and divine faith. Jesus is so present in all things and at the center of all things. Our days begin and end with Him.
Last week, I had the most incredible opportunity to venture into the streets around Eastleigh for a base walk. Bases are areas throughout a city where street children will gather to live. It was my first time ever visiting a base and since then, I am forever changed. I loved watching the MITS team enter this base with such confidence and grace. It is so evident how much this team has compassion and adores these street children. It’s absolutely wondrous to see the way these kids are being embraced by the love of Jesus that this team effortlessly radiates.
We visited a base known as “Black Army”. It was a truly a gift being able to spend time with about 15 boys from the Black Army base. This base has no electricity and clean water, and is situated adjacent to a mound of trash that they use for resources. The boys have pitched tarps up against a large brick wall in order to create tents where they sleep. On this particular Friday, the team greeted the boys with open arms as though they were already family. We sat with them and chatted for some time. Next, a couple team members gave a short lesson on washing techniques as well as a lesson on first aid (in case someone gets injured at the base). Teachings like this may seem small, but they are incredibly practical for these boys to know to use in their everyday lives. Finally, other team members read scripture and gave a short message of encouragement for the boys. We prayed, shared snacks, and said our goodbyes.
Experiencing a base for the first time, seeing where these boys live, and learning how a base functions, I am left in awe. I am sure of one thing - these team members love, serve, and care for these boys as though they are brothers. They are the hands and feet of Jesus as they enter these bases. They plant the seeds, and faithfully water and nourish as they continuously come back to establish deeper and deeper relationships with these street children.
Many of the students at MITS were rescued from a base before coming to school here. After spending time with the boys of Black Army, it is overwhelming to comprehend how my current MITS students have come so far in a matter of just 2 or 3 years. Since this walk, I look at them with completely different eyes and I’m able to understand them on a radical level.
Jesus has provided me with strong relationships with many of the students. I have been gifted with sweet talks with some of the girls I’ve built friendships with about what their lives looked like before entering into MITS. We have quickly opened up with one another and have shared precious times giggling, questioning, singing, crying, and simply just sitting. My heart overflows with joy at the transparency within these beautiful connections. They’ve revealed the sorrow-filled struggles they faced on the streets and what base-life was like. My heart hurts for the ways that some of them were treated; and what they went through as a 10-year-old running away from home, jumping from base to base, fleeing when it was no longer safe. These stories capture heavy, unthinkable pain; yet exposed beneath the surface is much rejoicing in their Savior who has brought them out of their old ways of living.
After unraveling my thoughts and feelings, stepping back and examining how much these girls love and trust the Lord after everything they've seen and gone through, I am confident that He is not done working, and for that, I am not done waiting. I wait upon you Lord and trust that You are working and You are present. He has given us life to live to the fullest; and wow is life so full here in Kamulu. Life with Him is dependable and consistent. Because of this, these precious ones are growing into brave, wise, strong, extraordinary sons and daughters of the King.
WE'RE VISITING TEXAS
"I like to give my time when someone I know is sick. Maybe by washing her clothes or cooking for her, any way that I can help. Another way I like to give here at MITS is in class. If a student is having trouble understanding the lesson, I like to stay and give extra help. I love to give because God placed that ability in me and I want to share it with others."
"When I give, it shows kindness. I like to give because it always comes from my heart."
"While on the streets and now here at MITS, if someone doesn't have food, I like to share mine. I also like to share my school supplies if someone is out. I love to give because God has blessed me, and I want to bless others." -Morris
"My gift of giving is through my encouragement to others. Whether it's sharing the word of God, or guiding them with their dreams, I like to give others my help and encourage them to help others as well. Giving to me is a gift from God because He gave to me."
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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