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.
by Samuel Montoya, Teacher's Aide Intern
Each day the sun sets and rises over a clearing across the Kamulu area. And each day when the sun rises, it will rise a little bit brighter. In a small, but impactful, school lies around 100 students whose lives have been drastically transformed. Why is that? The best answer we can give is God’s goodness, His mercy, and His never ending love.
The school, MADE IN THE STREETS (MITS) has given hundreds of children a chance at a fresh start. Each student that walks through the door frames of the chapel that you can see praising and singing to God are the same kids that you would have seen high and addicted to glue or rocket fuel 2 years (sometimes 2 weeks) before. This incredible transformation is a lot of times unfathomable and indescribable knowing where street kids start from.
A passage that came to mind since being here these past four weeks comes out of Ephesians. Paul begins his letter by addressing the Ephesian church about their citizenship in God’s kingdom. Ephesians 2:19-22 reads: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Throughout my first four weeks here in Kamulu, I have seen God’s transforming power to take a child who is left for dead on the streets and turning them into a bright young mind of the future with their hearts turned towards Him.
I can see this transformation through their writing abilities. On an Eastleigh Friday, I asked Irene if I can provide the dictation writing prompt for the students (to help me out with a side poetry project I am working on this summer). I had all the students answer three questions relating to sin and how sin affects them in their everyday lives. And the responses I received were incredible. Not only did all the students know the nature of sin, but some even provided metaphors to how they thought sin worked in their lives. Reading through near 90 essays regarding sin, I could tell that these students have come a long, long way since being on the streets.
MITS has provided a platform to launch these students, these former street kids, into a new life, a new direction that doesn’t look back. I am enthralled at the levels of eagerness and perseverance that these kids have shown throughout their lives and their willingness to soak up any, and all, information that comes their way.
Do you have a heart for missions? Have you ever thought about moving to Kenya?
We may just have the opportunity for you!
We are looking for an individual or couple to serve alongside our MITS team in Kenya.
This is a 2 year mission opportunity to support the spiritual formation of our visitors, mission trips, internships, and staff in Kenya.
Click here to submit an application!
If you are interested and wanting more information, email Christian Yoder with your questions!
by Katie Harvey, Storyteller Intern
To see the transformation that happens at MADE IN THE STREETS (MITS) of students coming from the streets to school is something I will always find so much joy in. The process isn’t always easy but the lives being changed will always be worth all of the challenges.
The process all starts with our Eastleigh team. As someone once told me, “without Eastleigh, there would be no Kamulu.” The Eastleigh center and team is a key part in the whole process of transformation. The team has built relationships with many different bases (where the street kids live). They go on weekly base visits and share an encouraging word with the kids and tell them about all about MITS. If a child is 13 or 14 years old, the team then invites them to come to school in Kamulu.
Once the child makes the decision to come to Kamulu for school, they stay at the Eastleigh center for at least two weeks. Here, they start the transition from street life to life in Kamulu. They are given responsibilities here and start learning basic life skills.
When new students arrive in Kamulu, it is a big celebration! The current students and all the staff welcome them in to their new life. The new students then start two weeks of orientation. This consists of meeting all the staff and learning more about what life in Kamulu will look like. At the end of orientation they take a placement exam and are placed into the appropriate classes.
Students move on from the learning center to the skills center at age 16. This is an opportunity for them to learn a skill so that they can go out and get a job after graduation. The skills offered are cosmetology, catering, industrial arts, and computer. They spend 2 years at the skills center perfecting their skill. They then get to graduate and start their lives in the world!
We recently had our largest intake ever with 30 new students joining us! This means that 30 children decided to leave the streets and come to school. God is amazing!!!!
This also means that we have 30 new students who need sponsors! At $25, $50, or $75 a month, you can help with the transformation of a child’s life. Heres a link to find out more! https://www.madeinthestreets.org/sponsorship.html
Heres some of the precious faces that have just joined us in Kamulu!
We are so excited to visit friends and loved ones across the United States in April and May! Check out our schedule below to see which cities we'll be passing through.
April 3-8 • New York City
April 8-18 • Dallas, Texas
April 18-23 • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
April 23-29 • Nashville, Tennessee
April 29 - May 3 • Malibu, California
May 3-7 • Fort Worth, Texas
Follow along via social media to see updates from Brad, Francis, and Joel!
by Haylee Haynes, Spring Teacher's Aide Intern
What I love about teaching is you can find the joy in the smallest moments, and here at the learning center those moments are all around me. The love and joy that the students have for learning and reading is eye opening. They are eager to learn new things and treasure that knowledge as if it was all they had. They long for deeper meanings, more understanding, and insight of how to become more of themselves. Students want to learn, but having an established purpose for each lesson gets them excited to walk through the door everyday to learn something new.
Not only has it been great seeing joy from the students, but the staff included. They pour their hearts into their jobs and their students. When a student is struggling and finally has that “light bulb moment” joy is expressed all around.
Each day has been a learning experience. I see my outlook and teaching change in the midst of a city that has children who take ahold of every word I speak. That is something that I pray that carries with me when I go back home to teach. That God speaks hope to every student that walks through my door, because if their hope isn’t already found in Jesus, the words spoken from me will be from above and there they can find hope and purpose. I pray for everyday to be a joyful and purposeful day for my students.
by Emma Wells, Spring Social Media Intern
I first heard about MADE IN THE STREETS over the summer while attending Campus for Christ at Auburn University. During the conference, many organizations and colleges had booths set up. The members of MITS were giving out bracelets during a break. They were so cute, so I had to get one. While filling out an information card, I learned a little bit about internships offered for college students. Later that afternoon, a short video was played explaining the work MITS did in Kenya and their mission. I saw how children's lives were being changed, and I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of. As a social media intern, I am not in direct contact with the children, but I still can make an impact. I do that by sharing our story of how we are changing lives and showing the love of Christ to people all over the world.
MADE IN THE STREETS is very easy to get involved in. They offer many different internships to match your level of adventure. I knew traveling to Kenya would not be a good step at this point in my life, so I looked for a way to get involved at home. I encourage everyone to get involved somehow. For some people that might be applying for an internship but for others that might just be making a donation to help support our work. No matter what you choose, you will be affecting the children we work with.
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.