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.