Photo by Tony Cece

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jambo from Kenya!

Jambo from Kinangop Kenya!

After a delightful breakfast at the hotel, we travelled through Nairobi to our home base, Into Abba’s Arms Orphanage. We were greeted warmly by the staff, and settled into our rooms. We had a great lunch, a quick briefing and were off to three different sites; the IDP camp, community outreach and training Into Abba’s Arms staff.

Dr. Reese’s group went to the IDP camp which was situated about one mile off the main road, and was composed of wooden 13 x 13 foot shacks issued by the government, to house 850 families (roughly 4,000 people) on 4 acres of land. There is a 23 percent rate of HIV infected refugees living there and many of the children were sick. We were warmly received by these families, they were very happy to see us. We were later informed that we are the only group that visits them except for political leaders that visit them during elections. These politicians visit promising them their own land, and after being elected do not fulfill their promises. This has been going on for 15 years. Despite this, these people have great hope and resilience, believing that the Lord will provide land for them.  We were invited into a home by Cecilia for tea, and played with puppets, sang songs and blew bubbles with the children to engage them and help bring conversations to deeper issues. The children were shy at first, but quickly warmed up to us, following us as we went throughout the camp. Many of the kids fought to hold hands with us, while babies cried at the sight of us because they had never seen white people before. Many of the children were curious about our color, and would rub our hands to see if the color would come off.  Sadly, 50 percent of the children we interacted with today will not make it to their next birthday due to the conditions and illnesses.  A group of women played drums, sang, and danced for our group as they dance before the Lord at church. Overall it was a great experience, they touched our hearts and we would love to visit them again.

Dr. Keyes group led lectures for Into Abba’s Arms staff.  These lectures were on integrity and how to deal with loneliness in an effective way. Small groups were offered after the lecture on integrity for the staff.  It was noted that the larger group was less likely to verbalize concerns. This was dealt with by separating into smaller groups which offered greater opportunity for conversation amongst the members. The leaders noticed that when the men and women were separated in groups, they felt more likely to discuss the topic. This was an interesting cultural dynamic to observe and work through.  The second lecture on loneliness was co-led by two students. This lecture seemed to be more applicable to the staff, and they were more engaged. Many of the staff had questions regarding signs and symptoms of loneliness of children at the orphanage. The staff was able to leave with pertinent information and techniques to be used in providing care to the children.  This was a good learning experience for the group in working with men and women from a different culture.

Dr Harris-Keyes group went out into the community. They encountered women who expressed concerns with anxiety. One of the students was able to teach a relaxation and breathing technique as well as a visualization technique. The students were encouraged when they saw this woman teaching these coping skills to a group of women shortly after. Some of the women remembered our group from last year and the women’s conference we held last year. They were very excited to know that we will be holding it again this year. They are looking forward to coming again due to the great impact the conference had on their lives.

At the end of the day we were tired, but excited by the experiences we have had so far. The relationships that were formed last year have been crucial and the people are very grateful that we have come back. At our debriefing, our team felt that we were all able to instill hope in our interactions with all the groups. We are encouraged and looking forward to sharing God’s love by providing by providing mental health services to the medical professions and national police force tomorrow.

- Jen, Maria, Sarah

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