Hannah Mould was on our 2 week trip to Kenya in June 2011. Here are her thoughts and reflections on how this experience affected her life.
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Visiting the Silanga school in Nairobi, Kenya was a lot of fun, but also very eye-opening. It was wonderful to see the opportunity that these kids have to come to school, a safe place to learn and play and figure out who they want to be. Mocha Club helps give these kids the opportunity to learn, because many of them cannot pay their school fees. We played for hours with the nursery school kids, and the secondary school students. They love to play and run outside just like any kids do! It was such a blessing to enjoy spending time with them just being silly and having fun. As we left the grounds of the school, we had to walk back through the slum of Kibera to where our vans were parked.
Walking through Kibera, I was overwhelmed by the smells and sights of everything around me. But overwhelmed in a good way. I finally felt like I was actually feeling something — not guarding myself anymore against the poverty and everything that happens in the slum. We were literally in the middle of it, and it was so real. All of a sudden I felt someone grab my hand. We were walking in a big group trying to stay close, but this little girl had come out of no where. She was probably about 9 years old and didn’t say a word, just walked up and grabbed my hand.
I asked her “how are you?” and she said “I’m fine.” She said her name was Sylvia and pointed out her brother Jimmy walking next to her. I asked her if she went to school and where she was walking, but she just said “yes” to everything. I don’t think she understood English very well. I was nervous because I didn’t know how long she would hold on to my hand and I was worried I would have to try to explain to her that we had to leave when we got to the edge of the slum.
We walked in silence for about 10 or 15 minutes and I just silently prayed for her and her brother, that God would protect them and provide for them and somehow show His love to them after I was gone. After those few minutes, she let go of my hand and said “bye” as she and Jimmy passed through a doorway into what I guess was their home. I was grateful for those few minutes she held my hand; it was the most meaningful part of that day for me. I hope and pray that for at least those few minutes she held my hand that she felt safe, and felt that someone cared about her.
Kibera is getting much better than it was even just a few years ago. I am confident that through organizations like Mocha Club, hope will continue to spread, not only through Kibera but all over Kenya. $7 a month seems like hardly anything to us, but to the precious kids who get to go to school, it means life. The attitude of the people there is just amazing – they have every reason to be bitter and want to lash out at each other, but instead they advocate peace, they share everything and don’t take a thing for granted.
Maybe holding Sylvia’s hand meant more to her than I can understand, but it definitely made me think about how lucky I was to grow up in a safe neighborhood, great schools, and everything provided for me. In that moment I realized how much I need Africa more than Africa needs me.