Lessons Learned from Kenyans in the U.S.
Posted on June 3, 2014
It’s crazy that Leonard and Norbert have already come and gone from the U.S.! I find myself missing them already. Having them share in developing the Kupenda vision as we met with different schools and organizations was really nice…considering most of my work on the U.S. side is usually a solo show. We have some really good ideas to apply to our work in Kenya including better groundwork for a communication center to support children with autism, cerebral palsy, and those who are hard of hearing. We hope to start with 15 children and a mix of 6 to 8 Kenyan and western educators that could serve as a model to others in the area of what is possible. Leonard and Norbert really enjoyed meeting with so many of the people that make up Kupenda. Thanks to all of you who took the time to feed and/or hang out with us. A special thank you to the Joss’s, Prasada-Rao’s and Mortenson’s for letting us stay in your homes!
It was also really interesting to get Leonard and Norbert’s perspectives on life here in the U.S. since it was the first trip here for both of them. They loved the trees everywhere, the beautiful houses, smooth roads and the wonderfully friendly people we met with. I told them I was only introducing them to nice people so they shouldn’t be misled to think all American are nice :-). However, they were very surprised at the number of large vehicles with just one person inside, empty streets (“Why is no one walking?”), eating in cars and getting food from a “tiny window like a maximum-security prison”, too many food choices, and the lonely life that most Americans seem to lead. They affirmed what my experience in Kenya has shown me, we may have a lot of things here but without true community, we are the poor ones. Working with families affected by disabilities we see how important it is to have both resources and community. We seem to have the resources while they have the community. The key is finding a way to have both without one tainting the other.
In addition to participating in Kupenda’s annual meeting, we visited 10 organizations that support people with disabilities, met with 9 church representatives and had the opportunity to hang out with several individuals who support us one-on-one or in large gatherings. We were guest speakers at a University of Massachusetts class on “Modern Africa” and even got to visit a few historic sites! You can see more pictures of some of our visit here.
Organizations we visited: Futures Behaviors Therapy Center, Northeast ARC, Waypoint Adventures, L’Arche, Landmark School, Ridge Ruxton School, Trellis Services,Kennedy Krieger High School, Athletes Serving Athletes, and Beverly School for the Deaf
We met with representatives from the following churches: Hope Community Church, Essex Street Baptist Church, First Baptist of Bangor, Hampton Falls First Baptist Church, Mosaic Christian Church, Hunt Valley Church, Grace Fellowship Church,District Church, and First Presbyterian Church North Shore
There was a lot to take in on their visit but we did not let it overwhelm us. Overall Norbert, Leonard, and I were inspired to implement in Kenya some of what we witnessed in the U.S. Many from the organizations we visited even expressed interest in joining our work in Kenya! We saw many children that reminded us of our friends in Kenya. For example, we saw a child with cerebral palsy communicating through a computer and we thought Dhahabu and Mohamed could do this! We may not have access to the kind of technology that exists in the U.S. but we know what is possible if a few people believe they can make a difference.
Thank you for being part of this small group changing the world for children with disabilities!
With love and gratitude,
Kupenda for the Children
PO Box 473 Hampton NH 03843
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