August 2013 Trip to Kenya

by Kupenda

A group of about 40 Kenyans of various ages smiling at the camera.

I just returned from a great trip to Kenya.  It is so interesting how much perspective is gained when giant obstacles get in your way like the airport being on fire.  I was stuck in Amsterdam then stuck in Nigeria and finally made it to Kenya via Ethiopia and Uganda after 4 days of travelling, begging airlines to let me continue on to Kenya, arguing with immigration officers for my passport, etc.  Nothing else mattered except getting to the Kenyan coast.  My experience with Kupenda continues to show that when big obstacles are encountered, amazing things are going to happen.  Thank you for the encouragement and prayers along the way.  I’m sure it made a difference in my attitude as I fought to reach the coast.

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My friend Lynda, whom I met in the course on disability ministry I took back in June 2012, was able to visit Kupenda’s work in Kenya after visiting her son in Uganda.  While Lynda was with us she visited the children at Gede, Marafa, and Sir Ali Special Schools.  She also visited my friend Joyce (who was born with one hand like me), attended Compassion Sunday at St. James Church where I preached, met with some of the Kenyans who attended our January 2013 class on disability ministry and met with some of the parents in the Autism support group.   

Little Joyce was born almost 5 years ago.  At that time, her mother thought she had done something wrong for her daughter to be born without her left hand.  After counselling and demonstrations of what I am capable of without my left hand (carrying water etc.), her parents encouraged her to do all that others do.  Therefore it was pretty cool to see her on her way back from carrying water with the rest of her family when we arrived.  It was also really fun to share photos of Joyce over the years with her family.

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After years of working with the St. James church, it is so wonderful to see how active they are in serving the kids at the neighboring Gede Special School.  They are bringing the children to church, training members of the congregation to use sign language (three already trained and interpreting during service), doing church services at the school and volunteering to help the kids.  St. James is an amazing example of what a complete church looks like.  When I preached at St. Andrews the following weekend I used them as an example to strive for. The members of our Beyond Suffering class met and shared what they’ve been up to since the January class.  Renson arranged with a sign language teacher friend to teach sign language classes to members of his church, (St. James). Lilia started an autism support group for parents. Rhoda has encouraged her son with special needs to join the choir at church and he is now the worship leader.  She also is incorporating what she learned from the class in the Sunday school she teaches.  Teresia, who has a disability, was encouraged by the class to lead liturgy at her church.  Mary, Kupenda’s assistant director, said she is able to better answer questions from parents who visit the office asking “why me?”  Leonard, our director said he was inspired by Joni Earickson Tada’s story that God can use struggles to make a difference.  Many agreed that the class taught them that miracles and healing often look different than what they previously thought.  These people are the leaders who will change the world for people with disabilities in Kenya and I consider it a privilege to know them.

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After Lynda left we took 7 children who are hard of hearing to Mombasa to have their hearing tested.  They were children who seemed like they would benefit most from hearing aids. This is a follow up to the workshops we did in January 2012 that showed, by example, what can be accomplished with hearing aids and training.  Hopefully we can provide the services and equipment needed to enable some of them to be in the mainstream classrooms they should be in. 

Since it was school vacation many of the Kupenda sponsored kids in high school and vocational school that we support were able to meet with us.  We had a meeting with the kids to discuss the challenges they have in school.  There are still quite a few challenges for children who are deaf in Kenya in terms of getting the education they need.  We also met with the parents of these children to encourage them to participate more fully in their children’s education. 

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In addition to all of this, we spent time working on our annual reports, child sponsorship activities, meeting with individual parents and children, board meetings, writing the proposal for a one year pilot project as a step towards a school of our own and many other activities related to the basic running of Kupenda and Kuhenza (what we call ourselves in Kenya). For more pictures and descriptions of our activities in Kenya check out Kupenda’s photo album

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of these beautiful children.

With much love,

Executive Director/Founder
Kupenda for the Children
PO Box 473 Hampton, NH 03843

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