The Kibera slum of Nairobi, which is reported to be the largest urban slum in Africa.
In two weeks I board a plane in Nashville departing for Kenya with my friend Rene. We’ll have two suitcases filled with shoes for people living in the Kibera slum of Nairobi.
I’ve never been on a mission trip.
I’ve never been to Africa.
Honestly I’ve never been out of the country except for tropical resort vacations that are a far cry from the reality of the conditions so many families live in throughout the world.
I’ve never witnessed the magnitude of poverty that I will witness on this trip.
I know I will also return to the comfort of my home and love of my family realizing how, even in the midst of filth and frustration, there is always hope. I know this trip is going to be the most impactful thing I will have ever experienced.
Rene and her husband John are dear friends of ours — she wrote a guest post for me in December 2011. — and she texted me just after Christmas to ask me to join her on this trip, which marks her third time to Kenya. Rene is a mom to girls, too, (three to be exact) and she’s taking with her many hopes and dreams, hopes and dreams she wants to share with girls from the Nairobi slum of Kibera. She and John are building a school for 30 girls in Kibera and she just founded a fantastic non-profit organization for girls, Every Girl Counts. While we are in Nairobi we’ll be attending the Jitambue conference for girls, run by her friend and ministry partner Peter Abungu and his NGO Swahiba Youth Networks.
I’ll help train Peter’s staff on effective ways to use social media to help spread the word about the good works they are doing. Peter’s organization offers some amazing services for the community, from hosting weekly J-Club meetings in schools with the girls that are a part of his Jitambue program (approx 600 girls), to running the Tabasumu shoe project that distributes shoes to needy slum children every December, works weekly with the Kabete Youth Center for boys youth offenders, and hosts the Abide Youth Camp that gives about 200 kids from the slum the opportunity to attend camp.
Things like food, clean sheets, and shoes are something we take for granted daily. These families do not.
A family of three in Kibera. The mother has HIV, which she contracted from her husband. Her son is 14 and although he qualified to go to school he must work to support the family. The younger son is a product of prostitution. Many families in Kibera are run by women as the fathers have died from HIV.
My friend Rene Cook, founder of Every Girl Counts, at last year’s Jitambue Conference for girls.
I’ll be blogging about our experience (hopefully from Nairobi and definitely when I return). What can you do to support us? Pray that we have an amazing, and safe trip, and please follow Every Girl Counts on Twitter, Facebook, and watch for our Tweets – #everygirlcounts and #jitambue. The mission is succinct and simple, but the potential for impact is great – Every Girl Counts exists to provide education, food, clothing and hygiene products to impoverished girls while promoting community education and awareness to impact a sustainable long term change in attitudes–that every girl counts.
I’m beyond humbled and excited for this experience…eight nights and nine days that will change my life.