Connie’s 7th update from Kenya
As the second largest slum in Nairobi, Mathare is home to almost a million people. Two months ago Partners for Care staff conducted a 4-day football tournament in Mathare right next to one of the IDPs. Pastor Muturi preached, the worship team led worship everyday and the team showed Pastor Karanja’s messages – Don’t Take Offense, Forgiveness, and God is Doing a New Thing. The people iving in this camp told the team that many churches had come but none had removed from their hearts the bitterness until this team came. George from the Kenyan Red Cross is the volunteer who manages this IDP. We had been told someone had stolen his phone. The team took him a new cell phone yesterday. Needless to say George was happy to see the team not just because of the phone but because the team and George had developed a close relationship over the 4-days spent together. One of the older women told George (one of our team members) that they had just prayed that we would return to encourage them – and there we were! Our purpose for going to Mathare was for the Partners for Care team – nurses, social workers and musicians, to support Nick and Charles in their work and for Debbie Jones of Emory University – to see what they do with their organization Community Transformers. A special blessing was that Francis Mania who has been working in the ministry of HIV/AIDS for GOA for many years was able to go with us and see the Community Transformers program.
Going Deep in Mathare
Each team member of Partners for Care staff made a home visit with a community worker from Community Transformers. This was the first time for many of the team members to go deep into a slum – to the homes of the sick and in some cases the dying. It is always hard for someone to sit at the bedside of someone infected with AIDS, TB and other diseases. To hold their hand, to see their frailness, to know their vulnerability and it was hard for the Partners for Care team members. But as the Bishop preached on Sunday we all must go deep into the waters if we want the big catch.
Nick and Charles grew up in Mathare slum. They decided to stay in the slum and set up a program to help those sick and hurting. They have had over 300 clients who are infected with HIV/AIDS with some 70 dying over the last several years. Twenty-two of those who died were children. Just last week four of their clients died. Nick and Charles take clients to the hospital when they are very sick and to the morgue when they die. They then attend their funerals. Community Transformers has 20 volunteers – community workers – who visit the clients on a weekly basis unless called to go more often because the client has the need for additional care. Nick and Charles have received assistance from HEART which has helped in many ways. Community Transformers is about transforming Mathare Slum one person at a time. And we were able to witness a few of these transformations. A tall young man with a big smile was part of some of these transformations. Sam is a Community Transformer volunteer. Sam grew up in Mathare and he told us his mother was a brewer. He himself at one point was an addict but God rescued him and now he spends his days rescuing other addicts. We walked with him through Mathare deep into the slum where they brew chang’aa not one drum of it but a brewery. We could smell the brew as we got close. The scene was like from a movie only this was not a movie but real with real people. We met people that recently had stopped drinking the changa’aa – sick looking people with dirty clothes and sores. Sam lovingly put his arm around them and told their story of recovery. Francis asked one recently recovered man if he was born again and when he said no Francis offered him the opportunity of salvation and he accepted. Right there by the river with dirty water in the brewery of Mathare slum Francis prayed for him as he repeated the words of salvation. Sam told us of three young men who wanted to get clean and how they connected them to a rehab center between here and Mombasa that would treat them for free. Someone just needed to ask. The Bishop reminded us Jesus said the catch would fill the nets if the disciplines would go deep. We were witnessing what Jesus must have meant.
We also witnessed how football not only was changing the lives of the footballers but it was having an impact on their families. Again walking through Mathare Nick, Charles and Sam took us to meet a mom of one of the footballers from the Community Transformers team. Nick and Charles formed this football team in December. They came in second during the recent GOA football tournament. The mother of this young man had been an addict all her life. In fact because of her addiction and brewing this boy had never gone to school. Through the transformation of her son she has stopped drinking and Sam is helping the boy to go to a trade school. Lives transformed.
Another reason we were in Mathare was so SN could present uniforms to a Mathare girls team. They had placed second in the GOA tournament. Their captain is a young woman named Patricia. After the team accepted the uniforms SN asked her if she wanted to speak. She said that she was born again and while she and the other team members lived in Mathare, Mathare didn’t live in them. These young girls have the same hopes and dreams as our children in the US – to go to school, get an education and someday have a family. They all have tremendous challenges – all related to the issues of poverty and disease mostly AIDS, malaria and TB. Preventable diseases. As these diseases are prevented and there are fewer sick to care for and more healthly people to help, slums like Mathare can be transormed . This is the buisness of Community Transformers – now a partner of GOA.
Blessed to see GOA and these young men Nick and Charles go deep as Jesus has called them, Connie
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