At the Nashville airport we were able to check in four duffle bags filled with much needed shoes as well as packages of sanity supplies which were lovingly decorated by girls in a youth ministry in Middle Tennessee. It was a beautiful thing to read the words of encouragement and inspiration from teen girls in America to teen girls in Africa.
When I agreed to go to Kenya with my friend Rene from Every Girl Counts I knew we would be giving love and encouragement to girls from the Kibera slum. What I couldn’t comprehend was the love we would receive in return from these amazing girls who, despite facing adversity the likes my two daughters will never face, are determined to beat the odds.
On our fourth full day in Nairobi we headed to the Swahiba Youth Networks office in Kibera to share love (and shoes) with girls enrolled in their newly launched Mentorship Empowerment Programme. This follow-up program works with a select number of recent high school graduates, providing them with skills that will enable them to start their own businesses as they work toward the goal of applying for university. They meet weekly to learn practical things critical to personal and professional success, such as time management and creating a business plan. They’re then divided into two groups to seek capital. The girls are assessed to see who would work best solo and who would work best pooling their talents as a group.
After Rene offered words of encouragement and scripture, we helped wash the girls’ feet and distributed new sandals donated by an amazing organization called Beautiful Feet. Washing the girls’ feet was both humbling and a demonstration of the love we have for these girls. Just like Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to demonstrate his love and commitment, we loved on these girls and offered words of encouragement and our commitment to helping them overcome a life spent in the slum. I talked to young women who have aspirations to be journalists, engineers, and small business owners. These girls are just like my own daughters. They have hopes and dreams. They get down and discouraged. They are beautiful.
Want to learn more about my experience in Africa with Every Girl Counts, a Franklin, Tennessee non-profit building a high school for teen girls from Nairobi’s Kibera slum? Here are my previous posts: