On June 21, 2012, twenty-three brave souls set out on a flight from USA to Nairobi, Kenya via Istanbul, Turkey. The long trip was an introduction to the many hours spent as we wound our way from Nairobi to Entebbe, Uganda to serve the Lord in the He Intends Victory outreach. An example of our travel is this: we arrived in Nairobi at something like 4 in the morning, gathered 40+ suitcases and the travelers in a bus and a van, and wound our way to the city where we needed to get water, change money and, oh by the way, a suitcase full of medical supplies “fell out of the van and disappeared” and we had to go by the US embassy because one of the traveler’s passports had pages out of order and we were concerned that she wouldn’t be allowed into Uganda, or out of Kenya for that matter. After all that, we set out to Lake Baringo, the first place in two days where we would have a chance to sleep in a bed. It was a six hour drive and we arrived feeling totally exhausted. I tell you all this because it illustrates our adventures very well—covering lots of miles, little rest, and unknown delays and problems that always occur when traveling.
In Lake Baringo, we organized all the toothbrushes, over-the-counter medical supplies, toys, flip flops, clothing, candy and hygiene products on big tables in a conference room and sorted it all for our distributions. Each packet contained a lovely prayer square, lovingly and prayerfully made by Alice and her team of merry workers. After that we had a little boat ride to see the beauty of Lake Baringo, then the next day we packed up, ready for our first outreach. We attended services at the Catholic Church in Marigat, Kenya, a small village populated by many Masai people. The picture at the right shows that we are greeted by the people with much fanfare, and dancing and singing are always a part of the process. We usually sing and dance for at least an hour before the distribution starts. This is their customary ritual with visitors. The second picture on the right show our group singing a song to them.
Then the outreach starts. We have several distribution/ministry centers at the outreach: the doctor and medical team with their supplies, an eyeglass distribution complete with eye chart (thanks to Stephanie Weaver) that Jayne and I operated, clothing, toys, hygiene supplies, mosquito nets, blankets, goats and water barrels. I believe that Jayne and I had one of the most rewarding assignments. When someone who needed glasses kept trying on various types and all of a sudden got a big smile on their face, we knew they had found the right pair and it was a rewarding and exciting experience. After that, we packed up our 40+ suitcases and headed off to Eldoret, Kenya for our next set of outreaches. Eldoret is a busy, modern city with huge traffic jams. Our driver deserved a special medal of honor for navigating streets where you will rarely find a traffic signal.
One of our activities was a wonderful skit about God taking care of Elijah in the wilderness by having a raven feed him. Our silly raven got some laughs but the people really responded to the skit and it was a hit wherever we went. The physical drama seemed much more interesting to both adults and children than some boring speeches. (See “raven” at left). The distribution and medical/eyeglass stations then followed in the same pattern as the one at Marigat.
While at Eldoret, we were entertained by three of our support groups as well as by Terry’s Kids, children who are orphaned or vulnerable due one or both parents having HIV/AIDS. These children are available to be sponsored for their school fees (school isn’t free), clothes, living expenses, etc.). There are hundreds of children who need sponsors.
(Our meeting place in Eldoret was the same as last year when we were in a lightning and thunder storm in a building with a tin roof, yikes!)
One of the recipients of a goat was a woman who works in a progressive factory where management allows the workers to be open about their HIV status without recrimination. This is a major move forward in the fight against discrimination and stigma!
Then we packed up and went to the men’s’ and women’s’ prisons in Eldoret. We saw the women first. This was where last year we saw many women weep because they were hopeless. Their conditions are improving, in part thanks to the He Intends Victory Kenya team who visits them twice monthly and ministers to them. They sleep on concrete floors with no mattresses, and one of the members of our team generously raised money to buy them beds and mattresses, thanks be to God. We had unprecedented access to the prison where we had much more freedom than others to visit, take photos and interact with inmates. At left you see the inmates with their warden, our director, Bruce Sonnenberg, and our Kenya director, Martha Ambani. Martha is a tireless advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS. The women with HIV in the prison are subject to severe discrimination and Martha and her team are working to stop that. The inmates have their children stay with them in the prison, a very tough life.
Part 2: next week