Have you ever wondered about the boys and girls we meet on the streets who are too old to join our boarding school program? Well, allow me to introduce you to Kennedy.
In case you haven't heard, today is MITS Day of Sharing. This day is dedicated to celebrating stories like Kennedy's and joining together to give and impact the lives of even more teenagers like him. We know that our impact is stronger together, so we look forward to what we can all accomplish today!
Kennedy's story began in Mathare, where he lived with his mother and sisters during his early years. Witnessing the disrespect his mother received from his stepfather, Kennedy's resentment and discontent grew. This eventually led to his decision to run away from home, and he began living on the streets of Eastleigh in 2016.
Kennedy's life in Eastleigh was filled with challenges. In order to survive, he carried business owners' luggage during the day and, in the company of "friends," resorted to breaking into people's houses at night. In January 2022, he was caught and arrested, leading to a 10-month stay at a correctional facility.
Kennedy's turning point came after he began consistently attending MITS programs in Eastleigh. He felt ready to break free from the cycle of street life that had pushed him into committing petty crimes for survival. With his own determination and the support of the MITS team, Kennedy successfully overcame his habits of drug abuse and embarked on a path of positive change.
Recognizing Kennedy's potential and desire for transformation, our team enrolled him in a technical institute. He is currently studying welding and displays both talent and dedication in this field. At 20 years old, he finds himself brimming with optimism for the future.
MITS remains committed to supporting Kennedy on his journey to independence and freedom from the cycle of street life. With his newfound skills and determination, Kennedy is poised to create a better future for himself.
Kennedy's story is a testament to the power of education, support, and opportunity to break the chains of street life. His journey is one of many that inspires us to continue our mission to transform the lives of vulnerable street children. You can join us in empowering other boys and girls like Kennedy to step into a better life. Give today to make an impact! https://give.madeinthestreets.org/give/514032/#!/donation/checkout
When those jobs were not available, she went with my siblings and I to beg in the streets, so we could get money to buy food and house rent among other things. At times I would go without her, but I would carry my youngest brother on my back to go and beg in the streets of Nairobi. I would walk as far as the city center and Eastleigh, which is quite some distance from my home. My youngest brother helped because he attracted sympathy from passers by who thought he was mine, and they would give. My mom said she had been doing the job of begging since even before she had any of us. I started begging at 6 or 7 years old. I am 14 now.
After my mom's passing, my grandmother took us in. My siblings and I, with my cousins and aunt, lived together. Life wasn't easy there. I have suffered in the hands of my grandmother, being forced to do house chores and at times denied food. My siblings always got food though. I would still go and beg as usual to supplement whatever was needed.
In the streets I encountered some difficult experiences. There were different kinds of abuse, lack of a place to sleep, frequent trouble with the police, people who would just talk bad at us, and exposure to drugs. Most of the time I was completely out of it, since I was always high on something. I had no direction at all.
Today, I am happy and feel so much better being at MADE IN THE STREETS. When I first came here I had no Idea how to read or write a single English word. Now I can read many English words. It is hard to create a whole sentence on my own, but I can understand books and do class work. I am already up one class since I joined MITS.
I do not wish to go back to that life in the streets. I want to keep on getting better. MITS has really helped me because I would still be begging, using drugs, and suffering.
One day I wish to become a doctor, so that I can help sick people to get well. I also want to take my siblings to school in order to get an education like I have, and I also want to help my grandmother move from where she lives to a better place.
Mary's story is one of courage and hope. Join us this Sunday in giving to impact even more boys and girls like Mary. All children deserve the opportunity to dream, and your support provides those opportunities.
P.S. You don't have to wait until September 17th to give...you can do that today! https://give.madeinthestreets.org/give/514032/#!/donation/checkout
We are thrilled to introduce you to Lauren Fieldhouse, our new Special Projects Coordinator at MITS! Lauren is from Santa Ynez, CA and graduated from Pepperdine University in April of this year with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and Nonprofit Management. She worked with City Net, a homeless services nonprofit, on their operations team over the summer; and we were privileged to have her intern with us in Kenya last summer. Lauren is already a valuable addition to our team, and we are excited for you to get to know her more!
What brought you to MITS?
I first started hearing about MITS in my nonprofit classes at Pepperdine! A lot of my peers and professors had some sort of connection to or experience with the organization. One of my best friends, Naomi Yoder, said that she would be interning for MITS in Kenya over the summer and I thought to myself "Wait, that sounds awesome… I want to go!" I did some research about the organization and, not long after that, I found myself on a flight to Kenya to be the marketing and social media intern for the summer!
There is a lot I could say about my time in Kamulu. But since I already have a blog post on that (see July 2022!) I will keep it short and say this- it was one of the most defining times of my life. It was three months of what I consider “deep work”. I learned more about myself, my faith and God I serve, and the global church than I could have ever imagined. (I also learned I loved Ugali, that I would need to spend dedicated time on Duo-lingo to learn Swahili, and that my dancing skills were subpar compared to the students… not necessarily ‘deep work’ but important to mention). I left feeling like family.
That being said, when Brad Voss approached me with the potential to join the actual team, I was so honored. After a lot of prayer and conversations with trusted family and friends, the decision was a confident and excited yes!
What are some words you live by?
The simple, yet powerful reminder to “be with Jesus, be like Jesus, do what He did” grounds a lot of my personal and spiritual life. Another more lighthearted quote that may have shaped a lot of my personality would be “How hard can it be?”. Ironically, this gets me into some sneakily difficult situations… I credit my parents for teaching me this one.
What is your ideal weekend?
I would go on a long run outside, Facetime my family, visit a fun coffee shop, play beach volleyball, and play card/board games with my friends!
What excites you most about working for MITS?
MITS is doing big things. I got to experience that firsthand with the Kenyan team. I was so impressed with the energy, passion, and care that went into the work being done there. When I talked to Brad about the direction MITS is heading and the ways the organization plans to grow over the next couple years, I knew I had to be a part of it. I am excited to learn from those who have been doing this work so well!
We had some special visitors to MITS in July! An incredible group of students and faculty from Pepperdine University came to serve with us, and it was a week of science camps, relay races, chapel worship, field trips to the safari game park, and more. Church in Eastleigh was bustling because MITS founders, Charles and Darlene Coulston, were in attendance! It was wonderful for old friends to connect with the Coulstons and hear an encouraging word from them.
This upcoming August is the 28 year anniversary of Charles and Darlene starting their journey to love and serve teenagers from the streets and founding MITS. We are so thankful for their outstanding commitment and impact in countless lives over the years!
We love having groups visit and do life with us at MITS. If you're interested in coming or bringing a group, be on the lookout for some announcements coming soon about 2024 trips. Pepperdine, thank you for sharing your generosity and joy with us!
Meet Rebecca, one of the students at MITS! Rebecca is 15 years old, and her favorite subjects in school are science and English. She loves to motivate people and would love to become a motivational speaker one day.
When asked what comes to mind when she hears the name MADE IN THE STREETS, Rebecca said: "What I like about MITS is how it has changed my life, and how they show love to me even when I feel I don't belong."
Rebecca, we are so glad to have you at MITS. Join us in praying for her and all the students!
Calling all advocates: let's raise awareness! At MITS, we see firsthand the effects of poverty and the impact that has for the community we serve on the streets in Kenya. January is poverty awareness month in the U.S.; and we want to bring awareness to some of the same issues people in America face because of poverty.
Here’s how you can help:
Hooray for the 2022 graduating class at MADE IN THE STREETS! The following students walked across that graduation stage on Saturday, and we are so incredibly proud of them!
Mary W. - Catering
Faith M. - Cosmetology
Grace M. - Catering
Faith M. - Catering
Sharon C. - Cosmetology
Catherine W. - Catering
Quinter A. - Cosmetology
Sammy N. - Catering
Vincent O. - Catering
Victor K. - Catering
Linda A. - Catering
Collins W. - Cosmetology
Join us in praying for them as they embark on new journeys and employment!
by Darlene Coulston, MITS Founder
Hello everyone, and a big thanks for a wonderful month with MITS Team and students. Charles and I taught seminar for the Team, in small groups. It was wonderful to have them in our home -- time to talk and reconnect. And get to know the newer Team members. We studied the 23rd Psalm; it fits the Team -- they are all good shepherds!
We also got to spend time with the students. A highlight was dorm devos; the literacy guys were lively, full of verses they wanted to share and lots of songs. The skills girls devo was sweet and personal. Oh, and Charles and I spent several afternoons with the literacy classes as we talked about MITS in the beginning years; we even had old pics to pass around, ha. They couldn't believe Maureen and I "camped" at Kamulu with a group of girls from the streets - all alone. We were inside the walls but there were NO people or houses around, nothing but hyenas!
We talked to the skills groups about life after MITS - they are eager and at the same time apprehensive. But MITS history says they will get and keep jobs and adapt to the outside world just fine, and MITS will always stay in touch.
We loved our time with MITS friends. We've shared laughter and tears for 30 years and the memories just keep being added to. Thanks again for the JOY you've shared.
By Stephen Bailey, Director of Strategic Growth
The Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, but at MADE IN THE STREETS we give thanks for you everyday. It’s because of people like you that this Kingdom work continues to change the lives of street connected youth, and we want you to know how much we appreciate you!
Now the end-of-year giving season is upon us and like most non-profits, MADE IN THE STREETS depends heavily on end-of-year giving to reach our goals and balance our budget. We look forward to officially kicking off this exciting time on November 29th with Giving Tuesday 2022.
Truth is, although it is the end of the year, it’s only the beginning of the next chapter of the MITS story. Through the blessing of your generosity MITS was able to assist more people than ever this year! However, we have an opportunity to do even more. Giving Tuesday matters because it provides MITS the resources to meet the mental, physical, and spiritual needs of the world’s most vulnerable children. Your donation of your hard-earned dollars is completely transforming lives!
Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to honor a “hard to shop for” friend or family member with a unique gift. Or, take advantage of the tax breaks that come with charitable giving. If you need any guidance about how to make year end gifts, including stock transfers, please contact our Director of Finance, Ericka at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you love MITS, help us spread the word! You are making a difference!
We are so excited to introduce MITS newest U.S. staff member, Stephen Bailey! Born in Canada and raised in Texas, Stephen graduated from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Human Communication and later got his masters in Communication Studies from Texas Christian University. For the past 10 years, Stephen has taught Communication at TCU and Tarrant County College. Before that, he worked with urban youth in Fort Worth as the Executive Director of Fortress Youth Development. Stephen also has a passion for music and the arts! Touring for years with a band and theatre company, leading worship, and working with a creative studio are a few ways that passion has shaped his career. Stephen has been married to his wife Stephanie for almost 27 years. They have 2 daughters: Rainey and Emily Rose.
What brought you to MITS?
"I've been a fan of MITS since the beginning. I was familiar with the Coulstons and their work and the heart they had for street connected kids, but had mostly watched from afar. When Brad became Executive Director I began to pay closer attention because he is a friend. Finally my family decided to dive in and visit MITS! Unfortunately, our trip was planned for the summer of 2020 and got cancelled. But our hearts were set on helping. I had not spoken with Brad for awhile and called him out of the blue to catch up. We got together and he told me about this position. After seeking the Lord and wise counsel from a variety of people, my wife and I felt like this is where God was leading us."
What are some words you live by?
"Know what your BIG yes is and you'll know what to say no to along the way."
"If you only obey what you understand, God looks just like you. Yield to what you don't understand."
"Don't compare your highlight reel to others bloopers. Or vice versa."
"Your critics aren't the problem, your focus is the problem. Stop focusing on your critics. They're distracting you."
What is your ideal weekend?
"A long meal with friends and family and a lot of conversation and laughter. A round of golf with my wife, brother, and another fun fourth. Go listen to some live music."
What excites you most about working for MITS?
"I believe I am joining the MITS team at an incredibly exciting time! So many people have labored in the past to grow MITS to where it is today. Now that the groundwork has been laid, my family and I are honored to participate in God's vision, mission, and strategy to shape the future of MITS. What a blessing to witness how God brings together people of different cultures and with a wide variety of gifts to impact the world!"
By Lauren Fieldhouse, MITS Marketing and Social Media Intern
I came a couple weeks after the rest of the interns arrived in Kamulu so I am actually writing this after only being here a little over a week. But you don’t have to be here long to know that this place is special.
I am starting my senior year at Pepperdine University studying marketing communication and nonprofit management. I had heard about Made in the Streets from my classes and a couple of friends who supported the organization. I never would have dreamed that I would get to see their work firsthand in Nairobi.
I read something in a book called The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen a couple years ago that changed the trajectory of my life forever. He writes, “God knows that the powers of darkness and evil can manifest themselves into real things. And while never neglecting or subordinating spiritual needs, Jesus calls his people to respond to hunger with food, to nakedness with clothes, to imprisonment with visitation, to beatings with bandages, and to injustice with justice.”
I understand the fact that I did not need to travel halfway across the world to respond to this calling. My relationship with Jesus changes every interaction I have, whether I am in Malibu or Nairobi. My prayer will always be that I lead a life of love and obedience. I daily ask that Jesus is between my lips and the words I speak, in my mind and the thoughts I think, and in my eyes and His people I see. That being said, I find this season of my life so special because I get to learn from new people who are committed to that same calling in a different part of the world.
Since a lot of my first week has been navigating my new role with staff, I want to express my gratitude and admiration for the people dedicating their lives to these kids. If you have never had the chance to see the ground work firsthand, let me encourage you with this — the heart of this organization is beating hard, fast, and strong. They give so much of themselves to the work being done here. Their time, their energy, their prayers… with Christ at the center of it all. Even in my short time here, it has been an honor to watch them live out Jesus’ calling on their lives. I believe that leaders have a huge impact on what a group is able to accomplish. As I have received instruction from the teachers and administrators on how to do my job, I have loved getting to watch them as they do theirs. I only just arrived and my flight home seems too soon, but the people running this organization are committed to long obedience. They are moving forward with legs and lungs of endurance. They are showing up. How special it is to get to learn from them. To all the MITS staff, thank you.
Hopefully as the weeks go on, I will be able to put more words to my thoughts and events happening here. I am sure there will be big things, small things. Good things, hard things. But just this for now. Thanks for reading.
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.