Lauren Meandro, Filmmaker Intern
As I’ve lived in Kenya for over a month now, it’s hard to pick just one experience to talk about. So, I figured it was best to go back to the basics and go through the ABCs. This month I’ll focus on letters A-H.
A - AIRPLANES AND AIRPORTS
We had to take three flights to get to Nairobi. Traveling is already tiring itself, but tack on a nine hour layover and a missed flight and you have a recipe for some delirious interns. We survived though, despite the several days of jet lag that it caused us!
B - BONFIRE
C - CONNECTION
D - DANCING
Boy, can these students dance! While much of the staff goes to visit Eastleigh bases on Eastleigh Fridays, the students have the day to hang out and just be kids. Many of the students play soccer on the field while others dance. I’ve been able to join in a few times, and though the students are far better than I am, I’ve definitely enjoyed the experience!
E - EXPERIENCE
Over the last few weeks I’ve definitely had many new experiences. One of them was pulling a banana directly off the bunch! Here’s a video of some of the other interns pulling bananas with MITS founder, Charles Coulston.
F - FLORA AND FAUNA
There are many things I love about being in different parts of the world (as you’ll see throughout this series), but there’s just something special about the different plants and animals that are native to the area where I'm living. Here are just some of the pieces of God’s creation that I’ve been seeing.
G - GABU
H - HOMESICK
The honeymoon phase has definitely faded and I’m missing certain pieces of home. I’ve found myself missing my car a lot recently, though I think that really stems from missing the independence that I have in the US. For several legitimate reasons, there are not many places MITS allows me (as a young white woman) to go by myself. Abiding by cultural and carefully considered standards are often just part of living “sent”. It may be hard sometimes, but leaning into God’s purpose for me here is far better than focusing on what I’m missing.
Ashlynn McNeal, Teacher's Aide Intern
Coming to MADE IN THE STREETS as a teachers aide I did not have many expectations. I did not know the different levels the students were at or how much English they would understand and know. While being a teachers aide over the past few weeks I have found that it is both rewarding as well as challenging.
What has stood out to me most so far would be the confidence the students have within themselves. One of my favorite classes is the beginners library class. They are all eager to stand up in front of the class and read. Most of the students in beginners don’t know English very well. So hearing them stand up in front of their peers with confidence and reading without hesitation brings me joy. I enjoy seeing the students want to learn and not giving up even when frustration takes place.
A challenge for me has been one-on-one tutoring with a student that knows barely any english. The alphabet song has been played over and over again but we will continue to listen to the song until it sticks. A few small steps everyday is all it takes. I have learned repetition is the key to progress. It might not happen overnight but with time, difference is made.
Through this, I was then reminded of repetition in prayer. Our prayers are not always answered right away but that does not mean to give up on that prayer. Over time it will be answered, not necessarily in the way we asked or hoped for but better than we could imagine. Just like the Lord does not give up on our prayers, I have seen the MITS staff never give up on the students. There will always be rewards and challenges but the key is to not give up because progress will take place.
I look forward to seeing the progress that will be made over the next few months and watching the students grow in confidence within themselves and around their peers. Like mentioned above it might not happen overnight or as fast as we would like but with repetition, all things are possible!
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” -Muhammad Ali
Madeline Surdacki, Street Ministry Intern
The sound of freshly sharpened pencils skating across blank pages echoes throughout the room, like a blade on freshly zambonied ice. Lips purse into meticulous grimaces while steady hands try to color within the lines, careful not to waste an inch of the 4x6 canvas. Feet scuff across the floor as erasers are torpedoed across the room and laughs are shared over mischievous sketches that most definitely do not fit the prompt’s criteria. In the middle of the chaos, one masterpiece jumps off the page, particularly coming to life. Slowly the edges are rounded, shapes are formed, and labels are given one by one: fine course adjustment knob, lens, body… the page could easily be mistaken for that of a textbook as the sketch is finished up.
The student proudly addresses the room with the confidence of a professor, introducing himself as Isaac Newton. He explains the importance of each part and how it contributes to the quality of the image. The rest of the room becomes transfixed on his lesson as it transitions from microscopes to the plant life cycle. His lesson comes all from memory, there is no textbook, not even a worksheet, because Isaac Newton is street smart.
In the hours I’ve spent in Eastleigh I have seen intelligence manifest itself in ways I’ve never experienced before. I’ve seen boys use a piece of string to tie up the ankles of their pant legs so that they don’t drag in the mud after a rainy weekend. I’ve watched smoke rise out of an almost invisible tunnel, a fire just deep enough that it doesn’t burn, but sustains a comfortable temperature. I’ve crouched in a chair made for a human half my size with three littles balanced on my lap, soaking up every line of the picture book cradled in my hands. I’ve witnessed a hunger for knowledge like never before, students hanging on my every word hoping to learn something new that afternoon. I have learned that street kids are some of the best inventors, engineers, architects, and emergency responders that inhabit our planet. Deprived of an access to education, these children have quite literally made a classroom in their backyard. They don’t have playgrounds, desks, or pencil pouches. Their idea of glue is nothing like Elmer’s. Their uniforms hardly resemble anything accepted as standard school attire. Yet, because these boys are street smart they have survived, and I get to be a witness of their brilliant existence.
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.