|Volunteers further extend their heart of service to children in Mukuru|
by Eunice Kiama
‘Sometimes our light goes out but it is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being,’ the famous words of Albert Schweitzer echoed in my mind as I entered into the informal settlement of Mukuru Kwa Ruben. HOPE worldwide Kenya (HWWK) in partnership with the Triangle church of Christ in United States and the Nairobi Christian church planned yet another volunteer program with members of the church to serve children in Mukuru informal settlement.
On 15th of July 2016, Twenty one children under five years, from two neighboring primary schools arrived to the HWWK center full of excitement in anticipation of the activities that awaited them. The language barrier was not to get in their way as international volunteers and the children seem to understand one another very well proving true the saying ‘A smile is worth a million words’ and affirming that we have more in common than we are different. The program always provides for a Swahili translator who would step in whenever a need arise since most children understand Swahili better than English. Activities, which included coloring, football, skipping, and jumping were planned for the day.
Children enjoy a game with Emily Shapiro, one of the volunteers and a board member of JamQuest*
The day started with an introduction to some of the HWWK Programs implemented in Mukuru Kwa Ruben Center of HOPE. The Team had the pleasure of visiting and interacting with the various components of the DREAM projects, a public - private partnership between the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Girl Effect which aims at reducing the disproportionate level of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa. The brief tour included a visit to the IT classroom, fashion and design class, hairdressing and beauty class, clinic which provides HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) and Sexual & Reproductive Health services and treatment of minor illnesses and pharmacy.
To one of the volunteers, Emily Shapiro, Mukuru was somewhat familiar as she had participated in a volunteer program some years back and this presented another opportunity to serve. She has also been involved in coordinating a child sponsorship program – JamQuest*, where she currently serves as a board member.
Coloring helps children improve their concentration, hand and eye coordination and recognize colors.
The children faces lit up as soon as they had the opportunity to play and have fun with the volunteers. Most parents are busy working to provide for their families and neglect their children at a tender age when they crave and need the presence and affection from their parents the most. Play and other extra curriculum activities are beneficial in optimal development of the child in their social, emotional and cognitive aspects. The African child has been known to belong to the society at large, and therefore HWWK together with the volunteers spend quality time with the children to share love and a few play items.
A child in a state of pure glee
The volunteer program creates a platform for children from these underserved communities to feel appreciated, important and build their self-esteem. It is also very satisfying whenever a sad innocent child’s face brightens because something good was done to them and eventually contribute to bringing hope and having such a positive impact on the child.
We are grateful because this couldn’t have been a success without the support of people with the heart to serve and make a difference. New friendships were made, hearts of giving were ignited and God’s name was glorified.
*JamQuest - a child sponsorship program that has been raising funds to support children from low income communities through their high school education www.jamquest.org