She calls me her mzungu (white person/foreigner) mom, and when she says the word “mzungu,” it’s the one time I don’t mind the name. I’ve been called mzungu a lot over the past decade, and while it’s not usually meant to be derogatory, it still implies a connotation of being an outsider. I want to be called by my name, not by my skin color, but in this case, the girl means it affectionately because her biological mom is not around. Her name is Faith, and she is one of the girls in our program. My son has the middle name of Imani, which also means “faith” in Swahili, and I told her once that she is special to me because she shares a name with him. Faith has a bright smile that lights up her face. She is outgoing and eager to answer questions, to be noticed, and most importantly, to be loved. Like most of the children we work with, Faith struggled with reading when we first met her.
But today I didn’t remember her struggle when she proudly read me her opinion essay over the phone and told me all the reasons why injera was the best food. I thought back to last year when we were reading a book and how she quickly memorized the word gigantic and went around bragging that even her teacher at school didn’t know what it meant. And then I listened today as the other kids rattled on their opinions about boiled apples and sandwiches being the best, and I almost had to pinch myself to make sure everything I heard was real.
Because boiled apples and sandwiches and injera might not sound like a big deal to you but THEY ARE!!!
They’re a big deal because a year ago, none of these kids knew what apples tasted like or what a sandwich was, and unless you’ve eaten Ethiopian food, even you might need to Google the word injera. Certainly, knowing these foods is not a make-or-break situation in terms of a child’s education, but don’t you see it…
These children are LEARNING.
They are learning that the world is so much bigger beyond their little square mile of slum, that people eat different foods all around the world, and that they don’t have to be defined by their circumstances, but rather they too are gifted and capable of great things.
Today Faith and the other kids are growing my faith. Because sometimes on this journey, it is easy to doubt and to lose hope, but when I look at these kids, I have faith that God is doing something bigger here.
On Sunday while on a long car trip, I started Instagram messaging other companies to see if they would carry our Grain of Rice products. I’m not much of a saleslady, and sometimes I hate social media. But it was such an act of God when I got a response back from the first person I contacted. She wrote:
I am not sure what led you to (our page) today but I know Who did. If you’d like something to encourage your faith today, get ready. Before you messaged me, I was taking inventory for an un upcoming booth. As I looked over each item, I had drawn a picture (only 1 picture of 1 item) that I really wanted to locate to purchase for our store. This was the image (attached). It is THE tassel necklace that the Grain of Rice Project carries!!! How overwhelming is His goodness!!! God knows the future He has planned for His children and today in a tremendously tangible way He has so confirmed that this door has opened by His leading.
She had included her drawing, and indeed the picture looked very similar to our tassel necklace. I got chills just reading her message. The way God is intertwining our journey with others who want to help and to be involved is amazing.
And here’s another amazing thing that is growing my faith…
We are only $15,000 away from being able to purchase the land for our school in Kenya!
After a series of donations came in the last few weeks, I looked at my husband and said, “this is going to happen.” In fact, it is already happening! Our goal is to have this remaining amount raised by the end of June, before I leave for Kenya. That means we’ve got one month! If you still want to be part of the bigger picture of changing lives, now is a perfect time to jump in and help us reach our goal.
Here’s how you can give:
- Buy a Brick: Help build a pathway to welcome new students to the school by purchasing a brick with your name or in memory of someone. $500/brick
2. Make a donation of any amount on our website.
Spread the word and keep praying because we have faith that God is able to do big things.Leave a Comment
I know I’m supposed to write a lot when I’m in Kenya. I know people like to hear about what’s happening–the good things, the funny stories. And there a lot of those. But in all honesty, sometimes once the end of the day has reached, I haven’t a morsel of energy left to spend on…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
“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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More