Nairobi (MNN) — The rusted metal and cinder block homes are stacked haphazardly along a river filled with trash and makeshift shelters for those who have been evicted by slumlords. In a moment’s notice, dirt roads become rapids, pouring raw sewage into homes and businesses. Violence has left its scar on the land, and opportunities for success seem distant. For 500,000 people in Nairobi, Kenya, the Mathare Slums are home.
More than 70% of all Kenyans live in abject poverty, and Mathare’s crowded streets and desolate conditions seem to be saved for the most desperate. Even Kenya’s government struggles to find any solution to lift the population out of the deep well of need.
But in a makeshift school, with leaking metal roof and maize bags used as room dividers, hope is rising.
“Welcome, welcome. Welcome to Mathare Slums. We love you, friends, just as you love us.” The children recite their poem to a team of missionaries from Orphan Outreach, who have come to deliver humanitarian aid and food.
Since 2014, Orphan Outreach has provided funding for meals, school supplies, and teachers’ salaries. More than 100 children are led by 8 teachers, a headmaster, and a cook who loves to sing hymns.
Lee Hageman of WCSG 91.3 greets the children with hugs. This is her second time to visit the Patmos Junior School in the Mathare Slums. She’s seen improvements in the building and in the children’s health, and she celebrates with the team as news is shared of a young man named Elvis who has graduated 8th grade and is now preparing to attend secondary school. Hageman attributes the success at Patmos and other schools like it to one thing: the Gospel.
“We were so thankful for the schools that we visited, that Jesus Christ [is] being glorified and these teachers are so sacrificially giving of their time and their resources,” says Hageman. “These children know Scripture!”
Elvis isn’t the only student Hageman has met from the slums of Kenya who has pursued higher education. He wants to be a pilot, to inspire others from the slums to dream. Sylvia is studying public relations and wants to encourage Kenyans to care for the poor and suffering in meaningful ways. Hageman tearfully reflects on the students she’s encouraged and the words she’s shared.
“Keep your goals high and go on and get good grades and move on. And [the students] would say to me that they just don’t want to live this way the rest of their lives. So…yes, I do think there’s hope.”
Hageman says it’s the power of that hope that inspires WCSG to invest in ministries like Orphan Outreach around the world and to invite their listeners to join them in partnership. “Partnership can happen anywhere. Anyone can become involved in the cause of the orphan, through prayer and giving and going. We all have a role to play to encourage these kids.”