Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A few favorite photos from Kenya

I was going through some photos and thought I'd share a few favorites and why...

This is from the time I went to talk to the local glue dealer.  The conversation he and I had was one of the most enlightening conversations I had the entire 6 months.  It's so easy to judge from a distance.  It's harder to judge him when you hear his story.  When you make time to spend with him you realize that he's looking for someone to show him compassion too.

This is my friend Alex.  He is 15 years old and he sleeps on the ground behind this building we're standing on.  Alex is a great kid to talk to and lots of fun.  He tells me that "one day" he'll quit glue.  I certainly hope that "one day" comes soon.  He spends about 50 shillings a day on glue - that's 350 shillings a week.  To give you an idea on this, you can rent a cheap apartment for 600 shillings a month...

This is Martin.  Martin is a walking, talking, breathing miracle!  I first met Martin three ago at his sister's funeral.  Martin is HIV positive and lives at Transformed International's children's home called the Veronica Home (names after his sister).  Three years ago when I was first to Kenya and only a few days after his sister was buried Martin got sick.  The doctors said that he wouldn't live through the night.  The team that I was in Kenya with didn't agree and we got together and prayed over this young boy's life.  Imagine the surprise of the doctors to come in to work the next day and not only see Martin still alive but moving around!  Go ahead, look at this picture for a while - this picture that was taken a few months ago, three years after Martin was supposed to die - and tell me that God isn't in the miracle business.

I love this picture!  First, you should note that I'm IN the photo...so who took it?  Another of the street boys took this picture on my camera.  I love this because it represents the relationship that I had with some of these boys.  These are boys had a deep trust for me and I trusted them.  They never tried to steal anything from me.  One day I left my sunglasses on the ground and one of them came running up to me and handed me my glasses.  These kids knew that I cared for them and they reciprocated.
Okay, this was just awesome!  In Kitale street boys are considered a nuisance.  It's not very common to see someone taking the time to talk with a street boy.  It's even less common to see what you see here.  This man runs a small shop just down the street from here.  After a few days of seeing me with the kids he finally came up to us and asked if he could play a game of checkers.

Something else about this photo is the boy he is playing checkers with.  Notice how his shorts aren't yet ripped and his shirt is rather clean?  I saw this young boy on what was likely his first day in town as a street boy.  As the days turned into weeks his appearance changed.  The shirt that was once buttoned all the way to the top became undone.  The clean clothing soon became ripped and dirty.  It was sad to see his transition.

Alex-Juma.  I'll go ahead and say it.  Alex-Juma was my favorite to spend time with.  He loved playing with that little red ball.  Alex-Juma is one of the many street boys that have families back at home.  His family forces him into this lifestyle to earn money for the family.  A child that young should not be the one making money for his family.  He should be a kid.  He should be outside playing.  He should be in school learning.  For a short time during the day, Alex-Juma played.  He was a kid again.

 I can't recall his name.  But this photo represents life to these boys.  "Life" is found in a bottle of glue.  Yet again, we can sit and judge while looking at photos like this on our laptops.  But let's be honest for a bit - I'll start...If I was wearing as little clothing as these boys wear, walking barefooted and hungry.  If I was beaten by security guards and rejected by everyone that should love me.  If I lived like that and then had to sleep on a dirt or cement ground at night and someone gave me a bottle of glue to help me sleep and numb the pain of my heart...I'd probably do it too.  I'd like to say that I wouldn't, but I can't.  After a few days - a few weeks maybe? - in that life, I'd probably do it too.  That doesn't make it right by any means.  But it does shed some light on things.

My attempt to be artsy with a shot from above.

This was a fun day!  After spending weeks with these boys I decided that it was time to do something new.  I bought some bread and make PB&J sandwiches.  We spend a few hours hanging out that morning and by lunch time I sat down and gave them all some PB&J.  And I sat there, on the ground next to the main street, ate lunch with them.  I showed them that I wasn't ashamed to be seen with them at all.  And when town locals asked for a sandwich, I told them no, this was food for my friends here.

These two pictures are special for a reason that will come in another blog soon.  I have it written, but before I put it here I want to talk to some family first.

How can you say no to that face?  This is Regan and he is the son of Virginia and Ben, the house parents at the Veronice Home.  Regan is an awesome little guy!  He's cute and he knows it too!  He's a mischievous one and loves to goof around and have fun.

This is Peter Lojore.  I've talked about him a lot in my blogs.  This was shortly after I had him discharged from the hospital.  They wanted him to stay there for 6-8 weeks to let the bone heal.  The doctors there treated him poorly and were already not giving him his medicine.  When I discharged him they made it clear that they wouldn't be held responsible if anything happened to him (they even made me sign a waiver).  My reply:  "you haven't been responsible with him since the day I brought him in so what's the difference?"

Hard to believe that this is the same man, isn't it?  This was after Peter had taken his first bath in a long time (he actually forgot how to bathe, it had been that long).  Sadly, 3 days after this picture was taken Peter went back to the first picture.  He chose street life over the home we got him into.

This guy was a fun guy!  He is one of the conmen that threaded to kill me many times.  He and another man that is a pastor were in charge of the group.  They had a scam and made off with tons of money each day.  Finally, I had enough and I started warning everybody that I saw them scamming.  After a few people walked away from them these guys began to shout threats about cutting my head off with a machete.  The old me may have run away scared.  But I didn't.  I made it my goal to walk by them a few times every day. And I began to teach the kids in this photo and the locals in the area about standing up against evil.  The locals who worked around here would always thank me for standing up to these guys.  I told them that they need to do the same if they want a chance.  In December this man here told me that they will "never be arrested" and that they "are bigger than the government".  I told him that one day his bribes to the police won't be enough anymore and he'll be in jail.  And I'll be laughing.  Just before Christmas the police finally stopped taking the bribes and arrested the whole gang.  And I laughed.  A lot.  I still laugh thinking about it!  :)

Some things were really fun!  I rode a camel.  It was a short ride at a local fair type thing.  But it was a great time.

Speaking of fun, this was awesome!  This was a few of us from the day we went snorkeling.  Kenya sits along the coast of the Indian Ocean so we went there for Thanksgiving.  What a great time!  This was my first time snorkeling and I loved every minute of it!  And the people in this picture are really amazing.

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