Photo by Tony Cece

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Abounding Joy in the Hearts of the Children

 We started the day off with a sweet time of singing and praying. It was a fun time of fellowshipping with the Lord and one another before splitting up in our teams. Dr. Keyes’ group went to the IDP camp today. Dr. Harris-Keyes and Dr. Reese brought their teams to Githinji Primary School with 2, 000 students where we educated about 1000 of the students about self-esteem.

Dr. Benjamin Keyes group visited the IDP camp today. Due to the last group’s experience, we seemed to be a little more prepared for what we were to encounter. Driving up to the camp, all you could see were rolling hills, trees, and many tree stumps. Nestled in the middle of this beautiful land were the small huts that many people call home. Walking up to the camp, we were immediately spotted by children who hesitantly made their way to our sides. We began by talking to the elder of the people so that we could walk freely and with his permission. During the time there our group was split into two, each with their own interpreter. We were welcomed into many homes to counsel people. It was a humbling experience to not only be welcomed into their homes but we were also given a glimpse of the reality of their lives. It seemed that most people were content with their lives until they remembered all of the losses they had suffered. Many of the people told stories where everything was suddenly taken away from them and they were forced to move into the IDP camp. Not only had people lost their land, homes, and material goods; many had also lost spouses, children, and friends. Many of the women have been left to provide for their children and grandchildren on their own. A lot of children are unable to attend school to due having to work to provide for their family. Many families also told stories about suffering from domestic violence and sexual abuse. Despite their loses and hard lives, many stated having continual hope that the Lord would provide for them.  

The groups that went to the school thoroughly enjoyed themselves. There is nothing quite like the joy and laughter of children. The students at this school were especially respectful and very responsive to the teaching about self-esteem.  Our main purpose in sharing on this topic is due to the amount of domestic violence and sexual abuse that the children are face on a daily basis.  We shared our own personal stories related to self-esteem and the children participated by sharing their goals, accomplishments, and ideas about low and high self-esteem. In each class, we had the children pat themselves on the back, stand, and say, “I feel good about me.” The teachers and local pastors (who translated for us) told us that they felt like the students learned a lot and that they themselves (the teachers and pastors) learned a lot that they could apply personally as well as in their teaching.   You could see the children beginning to understand the importance of self-esteem and the need to talk to their parents, teachers, or pastors when they feel many symptoms of depression.

During debriefing there was a common thread of each team member experiencing joy in the children, regardless of whether they were from the IDP camp or the primary school.  Everyone on the team is doing well and thoroughly enjoying their time and experiences.  Please continue to pray for opportunities, continued health, and traveling mercies. 

-Jen, Kelly, & Sarah

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