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.