Friday, 14 October 2011 16:02

Kenya, My First Trip to Africa

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Kenya, My First Trip to Africa

Rev. Dr. Ho Ming Tsui
English Pastor of Richmond Hill Christian Community Church


Kenya 2011 was my first trip to Africa. I've heard the statistics before (and seen the sponsorship advertisements on TV), but to see the harsh reality with my own eyes was something else.

One in five (1.2 billion people) do not have access to basic social service of health care, education, safe drinking water and adequate nutrition. While in the Kibera slums, we observed all these problems. Everyday our medical team had to turn away families because we just didn't have enough time to see everyone. While I was teaching a course on leadership, I took notice of the willingness of the Kenyans to learn. During our home visitations, the Kenyans explained how it often difficult to pay the rent, send their children to school and provide enough food and clean water daily.

Each night 800 million people go to bed hungry. In Kenya today, there is a famine, which means the price of food is 3x the normal cost. During each of our medical clinics, leadership training and children's camps, we tried to provide a meal for every single person who came through the doors. Though it was only rice, beans and tea, it cost $3 USD per person.

11 million children under 5 die every year from preventable causes. During our visit to the micro-finance projects sponsored by our churches, we meet Nelly and her 1 year-old daughter. Just a year ago, Nelly - a single mother - lived in a part of the slum where sewage water would regularly flow into her house. Thankfully, due to the micro-finance project sponsorship, she now lives in the newly-built store. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for her and her little daughter to live in such conditions. This is just one story of the unimaginable living conditions of many Kibera inhabitants.

By 2025, more than 1/4 of the world's population will be living in the squatter settlements of the developing world, like Kibera. In other words, slums are on the rise. While the solution is not necessarily relocating inhabitants to new housing or simply giving money, something has need to be done.

The poverty is overwhelming, and we in the West often have difficulty understanding it. Yet Jesus clearly identified with the poor. He was born in a stable, and lived as a wandering teacher with no home as an adult. Jesus demonstrated a special interest in the disabled, children, prostitutes and the ostracized (Luke 7:33-50; 19:1-10) and instructed his disciples to do likewise.

So what now? I'm not certain about even where to start. But I do know one thing: It begins with our hearts. When we realize the poverty of our condition before God, then we naturally extend the grace, compassion and love that God gives us to someone else - whether in Toronto, Canada .. or in Kibera, Kenya.


Last modified on Thursday, 12 January 2012 09:35

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