Brenda's Story: a New Life
Recorded October 2013
My name is Brenda Wasike. I am sixteen years old; my birthday is September 3. I have four sisters -- Mercy, Damaris, Ruth, and Faith. My three brothers are Collins, Jacob and Dan. They all live in the Lungalunga slums. I am from the Luhya tribe. My mother is called Metrine Wasike. She goes to the streets to look for scrap metal and plastics to sell to the recyclers. She uses the money to buy us food. My father does not have a job and so he stays at home. His name is Francis Wasike. He tries to get jobs but most of the time he is frustrated and complains that there are no jobs.
When we were growing up, we were not well off, but my mother had a small business of selling roasted or boiled maize and ripe bananas. Life was good even though we struggled in some areas. After some time my brothers started going to the street bases to look for scrap metal and plastics. They would come back in the evening and bring some money to my mother. She would ask them if the money was stolen. She told them that she would not take any stolen money. My brothers told her that they had collected scrap metal from some dump trucks, sold them and brought the money home.
The little money my mother got from her maize business was supplemented by what my brothers brought home. We were so glad that they were doing this because at least we had something to eat. With time, my brothers became full time street boys. They would spend the whole day at the dump heaps looking for scrap metal to sell; they would bring some money home. Then they would go and spend the rest of the day and night in the base. We were not happy with my brothers’ decision to move to the streets, but we could not do anything about it. We kept hoping that they would come back home and live with us. It was very shameful for anyone in your family to become a street child; it was the talk of the whole community. It was uncomfortable for us and for my mother to hear people talk. But we learned to ignore what they said.
After some time my mother’s business started going down. Not many people bought her products. When the business failed completely, the only way my mother could make money was joining my brothers in collecting recyclables. My mother did not tell anyone what was going on but she left the house very early in the morning and spent the whole day in the garbage heaps and dustbins looking for recyclables to sell. She would come home late with some food. We were left in the house to take care of our younger siblings and my father. Due to lack of money for school fees, I had to drop out of Saint Elizabeth Primary School. I had gone up to class five.
My mother really struggled to put food on the table. She worked very hard and always brought us something to eat. In the streets there were other women doing the same thing as she did. The women showed my mother the best spots for recyclables. Afterwards my sister Mercy and I started going to a base near our home called the “Quarry Base.” This was an abandoned quarry; the dump trucks were trying to fill it up with the trash they collected from different areas of the city. Mostly the trucks came in the evening and early in the morning. We would go and collect all types of food or any recyclables like clothes, tins and plastics.
The truck drivers left the trash for us to look through as long as we promised to throw the things we did not need into big quarry pit. Sometimes we worked through the trash until it was too dark. Then the next day we had to wake up very early in the morning to push the other trash into the pit. Then we waited for the trucks to come again. So life went on at the trash pit. We would sell what we found to a man called “pastor”. A kilogram of plastics fetched us fifteen shillings. I would make from 300 to 1000 shillings in a day. (1000 shillings = $14). Sometimes we were forced to share this amount with older women who were in that base. We had no choice because failure to share would lead to being banned from the quarry. Some of the women told us that we should be in school and not working in the quarry. We knew that was true but our mother did not have money for school fees, or food either. We had to help by finding food for us to eat.
My mother later joined us and she moved from Mtindwa Base to Quarry Base. She worked with us to collect the recyclables and we would go and sell them as a family. The presence of our mother in the base was an advantage to us because we did not have to share our money with anyone. In the base I learned that some things like cartons and aluminum fetched more money, so I had to rush for them first and keep them separate whenever I found them. I also learned to keep all the foodstuff I found in the trash. We would eat what we could; food that was not fit was still useful to sell to pig farmers in our village.
Base life was a risky venture for me as a girl...
Read the rest of Brenda's story, along with seven other student stories in our eBook, "I Want to Tell You my Story, vol. 1" which can be downloaded from the MITS store.
Handmade Tour Update
Hello again! I just wanted to give you guys a quick update on how things are going here. We have settled into life in Malibu pretty well. I’m sure you can imagine that transitioning from Kenya to Malibu is not easy, and while we definitely still miss Kenya, Malibu isn’t a bad place to be either. So far we’ve met with two churches. We spent our first Sunday with the University Church of Christ here in Malibu and it was such a blessing to all of us. Their hospitality will not soon be forgotten. I am very grateful for the ability to share stories, memories, and love with a congregation that cares so deeply for the work being done at Made in the Streets. Having the chance to sit down with the members and to hear them tell us stories about students that they know or sponsor was really fun. Just yesterday we had the chance to go and share with the Hollywood Church of Christ, the church home of the one and only Weird Al Yankovic (you can imagine my disappointment when we found out that he was out of town). However, despite the absence of one of my personal heroes, our time in Hollywood was nothing short of fantastic. This was a very special congregation. We all left service feeling as though we had just spent the morning with our home congregations. There are not many times in my life that I have felt more welcomed in a place than I did yesterday. Then, to top it all off, everyone in attendance was really interested and eager to learn more about Made in the Streets and their mission. I continue to be amazed by the hospitality of the church. Praise God for that.
What a blessing it is to know that no matter where in the world we may go, there are good people that will meet us there with open arms. I know I’ve already written an entire blog post about it, but I just can’t get over the beauty that it the family of God. I have felt it in Kenya and now I feel it in California. I am a stranger who has been welcomed in and called family. How special is that? There is nothing else that is powerful enough to bring a group of strangers from all across the world together and unite them with a bond that can’t be broken. The only thing possible to do all of that is the love of Christ. It is my prayer today that we may never forget such a powerful fact. It is amazing and deserves to be treated as such. I am so excited to see how God will continue to show himself to us through His church on the rest of the tour. To those we have already met, thank you so much! To those who are in our future, we can’t wait to get to know you! To those we are with now, may we take advantage of every second that we share with one another. To the One who has made all of this possible, thank you for your Son, your church, and your global mission. May we bring glory to you in all that we do.
It's been a few months since we rolled out news of our plans to start a street project in Ethiopia. You can read more about the inspiration and intention behind the project on our Ethiopia Project page.
The latest developments are that this August & September, four street ministers from the Aleme's ministry in Addis Ababa will visit us in Nairobi to observe our model of outreach, recovery, and equipping. They will mentor under our staff and learn from our successes and failures over the past 20 years. They will return to Addis Ababa to start implementing what they learned.
In the new year, we will send two of our own team to Addis Ababa in January and two in February to help advise and coach the Ethiopian ministers in creating a ministry that fits the street context of Addis.
It is our hope and prayer that the Made in the Streets Ethiopia team will be able to stand on our shoulders and reach even greater levels of success and transformation than we have seen in Kenya. For now, we ask for your prayers and support as we cultivate and support this much needed street ministry.
More updates to come!
The Power of God's Family
I don't really know how to go about writing this article. I've actually been avoiding it for quite some time, but I don't think I can put it off anymore. Honestly, I'm actually a little afraid of where this is going to go. I'm afraid of revealing more about myself than I want to. I'm afraid of the emotion that it will stir up in me. I just don't want to write this, but it has been on my heart for a few weeks now, and I need to say it. You may all hate it. It may be the most poorly written blog post in history, but I think that I need to say this for me.
So far, this summer has had some major ups and downs. It's been an absolute roller coaster. There have been days of absolute joy. I mean days packed full of laughter, friendship, and Jesus. However, there have also been some pretty tough days. Days filled with confusion, pain, and questions. Now, don't get me wrong, I am happy. The internship has, for the most part, gone very well. It's life outside of the internship that's been tough. You see, there's been a bit of a theme that has developed around me for the last several weeks. Unfortunately, that theme is death.
It's a weird thing isn't it? Death, that is. The fact that someone is alive, breathing, thinking, and existing in one moment. Then the next moment, gone. We don't get to have them in our lives anymore. They vanish. Leaving us with great memories, deep love, and a longing for their return. Since the beginning of this summer there have been a ridiculous amount of people that I know that have died. First, was my long-time childhood friend, Mackenzie Hess. Kenzie was the first person my age that I have ever really known that has died. Then, a student from the youth group I worked with last summer, Luke Logan. An awesome kid that is deeply missed by so many. After that, my next door neighbor, Wayne Wright. On top of all of that, two of our students here at MITS have lost loved ones in our five short weeks in Kamulu. Then, of course, this vile, atrocious, disgusting, horrifying massacre in Orlando. I have no words. My heart hurts.
Up until a couple of years ago, I don't think that I responded to situations like these appropriately. You see, my heart had hardened. I had gone numb. If these things had happened a couple of years ago I would have completely shrugged it off. I would have been thinking, "Well, that's the world we live in. Nothing I can do about it now." It would have no impact on me. I pray that I never return to being such a hardened person. You see, that is not how God made me... And now here comes the hard part for me. The person that God created me to be is actually an extremely emotional person. I hate admitting that, which is just plain stupid, but it's true. I spend way too much time trying to hide from my emotions, but that is who I am. I am constantly trying to make people believe that I am this tough, emotionless guy, but I'm just not. That's not who I am, and, as hard as it is at times, I am so happy with the person that God made me to be. I know that He created me this way for a reason and I hope that I never get in the way of that again.
There have been a few times this summer that I have been completely overcome with emotion, but two in particular have been very comforting to me. Both of these things came around the dinner table. Once as a guest and once as a host. In these moments, I saw what I believe to be the most powerful force on Earth at work. I got to feel the comfort, peace, and love of God's family. As I have been reflecting on these moments, I have found overwhelming peace. I have found peace with the death of so many around me. I have found peace with my struggles and insecurities. I have found peace with the ways of the world. You see, none of those things matter.
My struggles and fears can be beaten. The world will pass away. Death itself loses. It's already been defeated. The Savior of the World beat it single-handedly about 2000 years ago. Now, we don't have to fear it. Is life still hard? Absolutely. Unfair when people die too young? No doubt, but this is where we can find our comfort. Remember that super powerful force that I was talking about a second ago? Well, it's not confined to this world. It transcends all of this. God's family is more powerful than our fears. It's bigger than you and me. And, yes, it's even stronger than death itself.
I've recently been reminded that it is okay to laugh. It is okay to cry, but we need both. I've also been reminded to simply tell people what needs to be said. This is something I struggle with. I am really bad about telling people that I care about them. I think it comes from that whole fake tough guy thing. I'm working on it, but right now, I want you to know something. I want you to know that you don't have to be afraid. You don't have to struggle. You don't have to feel alone. You are welcome and wanted in the family of God. Or maybe you're a part of it, but it doesn't always feel that way. I get that too. But please, read this and believe it. You are so loved. More than you could ever possibly imagine. People who don't even know you love you. The people around you everyday love you and need you. I love you. But most important of all, the Creator of the Universe loves you. Really think about this. Please. A God so big that He created this infinitely big universe thinks that you are worthy of His love and affection. That must mean that you're pretty special.
Through Jesus and His life, we get to be a part of this family that knows no borders. It is everywhere. It knows no boundaries at all actually. Those in this family have a bond greater than any other. On top of all of that, when this life is said and done, when this world is gone, when all other families cease to exist, God's family keeps going. The best part about it all? It's open to everyone and there's always more room around this table. Please come and partake.
A post by Cody Poinsett
My name is Beatrice Mbithe. I am from a place called Ithaga. I am Kamba by tribe. I am the youngest of eleven children; I have six brothers and four sisters. My father is called Phillip Mutua. My mother is called Theresia Nzilani; she works as house help in Eastleigh. My father lives upcountry in Ithaga with my four of my siblings. When I was little, my father was working as a casual laborer in a farm in Tala. My mother was not working because she had to take care of all of us. Although life was tough, we were happy. My father was very hard-working and he always brought home some food to eat. I went to Muthesa primary school up to class three.
Then our life changed. My father got blinded because a poisonous snake sprayed venom into his eyes while he was working. When he came home all he could see was darkness. This was a big blow to our whole family. My mother was now forced to look for odd jobs in order to feed us all. It was hard for her to get a job that would allow her to take good care of our father and at the same time earn some money to feed our large family. I had to drop out of school to act as a guide to my now blind father. I also had to do other jobs like washing the clothes, fetching water from the stream, and cooking for the rest of the family. My brothers were forced to look for jobs to add to whatever my mother was earning. My sisters moved to Nairobi to look for jobs as househelp. I was so miserable at home but I could not leave my father alone. My mother moved to Nairobi and finally got a job as househelp for Somalis...
When you do this for 27 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.