Far, But Not So Far

Friday, March 5, 2010

We have driven to the far western edge of Kenya to a region called Gem. Nicole and I quickly learn it is useless to ask how much time is left in our travels. Both Joshua and Dorothy say, “Far, but not so far.” It took close to 10 hours to reach our final destination. 

Because of the distance between villages, many children go to boarding schools. We visit seven boys. Milicent, one of the Kibera women, took in her nephews when her sister died of Aids expanding her family to 14 members living in a 10 foot square home. Pangea found a sponsor and arranged to have these boys complete their education in Gem. A year ago, these boys were far too thin and lost in spirit. Now, I see they are healthy, confident, and filled with laughter and dreams. 

As I continue to witness throughout this trip, there are unsung heroes in every direction. The director of the young boys’ school is a surgeon. He has opened a clinic for the village, is all-inclusive of those who wish an education turning no one away, and even provides laugh therapy for the traumatized young students.

There is a man down the street from Dorothy’s home who has opened a center for the very young orphans so they may have a place to be safe and learn during their days. At night, they return to the grandmothers, aunts, neighbors who have taken them in. 

Gamaliel Osotsi is the Chief of Luanda. He is steadfast in his dedication to his community, opening a polytechnic institute providing tradesman training, investing in farming and distribution centers, and even establishing a fish hatchery. 

They do so much with so little. Imagine this. There are 34 students in the tailoring class with the polytechnic school. The only equipment available is a single steel iron that is heated with charcoal, a coat with a handful of needles to practice hand stitching, and a single peddle pushed Singer sewing machine like those we may have seen in our grandmother’s home. In spite of this, all are eager to learn sitting on planks of wood in the mud-walled room leaning in to hear the words of guidance from their teacher. Again, I am in awe of the their undying determination and desire for education.