Parent Involvement

February 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

One thing I have learned on this Grain of Rice Project journey is that it is all about having faith, and being willing to take risks.  All of our programs, from the kids, to girls, to footballers, are exciting, but sometimes challenging, and always so much bigger than myself or anyone person.  Indeed it is about trusting in God and letting Him be in charge.  It is often difficult to know how things will culturally play out and if they will work in the context of our programs, in a slum, in a place with limited resources, but still we try, even if it means that sometimes we fail.  And so this past week began a leap of faith into bringing all the GORP Kids parents in to volunteer with us on a monthly or bimonthly basis.  All the kids in our program are receiving free education, and so we want the parents to be involved, to a be a part of the learning, and to also contribute and have an investment in their children’s lives and in Grain of Rice Project.

Honestly, despite believing in the idea and knowing it was good, I was skeptical it would work.  I know that in the US it can be hard to get parents to come volunteer at school because they are busy and working, and in Kibera, I know the challenges are much greater.  Even when we insisted to the parents that this was a new requirement, most people said they’d get back to us later with a time (a.k.a. I’m not planning to show up).  And yet, the persistence of Collins, our Kids Program Director, who made a lot of phone calls, resulted in 5 parents volunteering this week.  We’ve allowed parents to come almost anytime that’s good for them, and this has resulted in them doing a variety of tasks, including cutting out materials to be used for the kids, preparing tea for the footballers, cooking lunch for the kids, and sanding and applying a fresh coat of varnish to the outside chairs that we use daily and are looking badly worn.  In the scrubbing, washing, and painting, it’s been amazing how much meaningful work they’ve done this week, and how much time this frees up for our staff to spend more time directly with the kids, and how the parents can see more of what is happening in our program.  I’m hoping we can also involve the parents more with reading to the kids and participating in our activities.  We don’t know what this week will bring, or if we’ll have 100% participation of all parents, but I think in the risk taking, in the trying, there are good things happening, good things to cling to.  And clinging to the good things gives me hope.


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The Start of 2018!

January 21, 2018 | 1 Comment

It’s been great to start off 2018 in Kenya with all of our Grain of Rice team.  I arrived in Kenya on January 2, and quickly jumped into all that is happening.  We began the first day with a New Years party for all of our artisans, children, footballers, and staff who are a daily…

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Cultivating Beauty from the Dirt

November 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

It may be November, but this week, I’ve still been uprooting carrots and vegetables from my garden.  If you live in Northwest Indiana, you know that this is nothing short of a miracle.  Fall has pushed itself in, and as much as I wish I could be one of those people who walk around proclaiming…

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Living in a Truck

October 25, 2017 | 2 Comments

I’ve been living in a box truck for a week. Yes, you read that correctly. My last week and half was dedicated to a big outdoor event selling for Grain of Rice Project, where most people camped in rather nice or at least decent RVs, while my friend and I spent 10 days living the…

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Full Circle

September 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

“I can’t believe I finally made it into the basement,” I happily told The Bridge store manager, Sara. Fourteen years ago, an art teacher, whom I was observing throughout the semester for one of my education classes, had gifted me a checkers set made inKenya with African fabric and Coca-Cola bottlecaps—my first fair trade gift, and…

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Our Concern Is For Peace

August 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

Abandoned streets, boarded buildings, closed shops…this is not the Kibera that I know. The Kenyan election was a week ago, and still our workshop has not re-opened and many of our friends are still in their homes, too afraid to return to work, to afraid to go anywhere. This is not the Kibera that I…

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July 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

Town…such a small word for such a crazy experience. “Town” is how people refer to downtown Nairobi.  “I’m going to town today,” they’ll say.  But to me, town is not really a place but an adventure.  I started having dreams at 5 a.m. this morning about going to town.  I’m blessed and have nothing to…

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Mix Matched Socks

July 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Last week it was the toxic smell of burning plastic drifting in our windows at 5 a.m. that just about drove us to the edge.  When it starts to become a daily occurrence, which causes a choking fit that cannot be stopped even when smothering a pillow over your face, I can assure you that…

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Retreat Reflections

July 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

This morning we returned from our 2nd annual GORP Retreat.  To say that the workshop, kids program, and football team programs are busy is an understatement, and some time away to bond, reflect, and rejuvenate was definitely necessary.  We’ve added four new people to our team in the past 6 months, and we wanted to…

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June 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

If you’d arrived at our house this morning, you’d have wondered why Edwin and I were jumping for joy and praising God at 9 a.m.  It certainly wasn’t because of the bleating goat that someone is literally keeping right outside their house in this urban area, nor was it the squawking chickens and roosters that…

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Hard Stuff

June 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

The workshop is calm and still right now.  I can hear Charles snipping fabric in the small sewing room behind the main building and the ticking of the clock on the wall behind me.  The neighbor’s gate across the street creaks as people leave for work.  A rooster is crowing in the distance and there…

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