Melanie Mitchell went on a mission trip with Home of Hope in December 2013. She emailed people back home with her experiences. We have compiled these emails into 4 part articles. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
I have left one world behind and entered another. I’ve been in Nairobi for about 26 hours and I feel inadequate to even try to put into words what that has been like. We began the day at the construction site for the new Dream Centre that will be able to hold up to 200 babies when it is completed. From there we went to the Dream Centre with the littlest babies, up to 2 years old. The children there are adorable and they crowded around the door of the car as soon as we arrived, and one by one held out their little hands to shake my hand. While we were there I heard some of their stories and saw pictures from when they were rescued.
|One of the stories was about Jadon, who was hours away from death when they found him. He was delightful and loved it when I would jump up and down. He had his hands all over my face, but particularly kept putting his fingers on my eyes.|
|We then travelled to the dump. It is the most dangerous place in Kenya at night (we went with guards in the day). More murders and rapes happen there than anywhere else. Many of our babies have come out of there and they actually showed us the spots where some of them were found. We met the pastor and guard who works there. The guard is an older man and has been beaten five times because they think he has money. There are children everywhere, and the sewage runs along the path. Three kids were full on in the water, wetting their hands and then rubbing it all over their legs and faces and it is pure filth.
Near the dump is a slum of 500,000. It is a vast array of extreme poverty and hopelessness. We wound our way into one of the homes of a woman who belongs to our church and prayed for her and her kids. She has HIV and does laundry to make money when she is strong enough to function, but there was no laundry on the lines. Tragic. The kids in the slum watch from a distance, but if you engage them at all, they break into huge smiles and become fast friends. They were delighted when I took their pictures and then showed it to them on my camera.
We continued on to our Kariobangi campus where most of the Stella women were waiting. We preached and then Daryl taught them about business. Afterwards, about six of the women, who have been moved out of the slum and are now in business, told us their stories. It was very emotional.
While we were teaching, Karissa (my daughter-in-law) was giving out gifts to the older Home of Hope kids from their sponsors. She spent time with each child, with a translator at times, reading to them the letter from their sponsor, and letting them open their gifts. After seeing these kids beaming as she read their letters, knowing they had been rescued from what we had seen earlier, I couldn’t hold the tears in anymore and at night I woke up crying and couldn’t stop.
Today is a leadership conference and we will be training on church values and DNA etc., just like we do at home. One of the highlights for me was spending time with pastors from one of our Uganda campuses (we have gone from 36 campuses to 44 in the last 10 days). They are such beautiful people and so exuberant in their faith.
|The best part of the day was having lunch with a 16-year-old girl named Rashida (read her full story here). She is a beautiful girl and has a clothing business. She came and asked if she could talk to me. Rashida ran away from home at age 8 due to poor quality of life. No one knew where she was for two years. She was raped at age 9 and lives in a culture where the only way to deal with rape is not to tell. She carries a lot of pain as a result. She was moved out of the slum through our Stella program and she told Pastor Brian (The Founder of Home of Hope) last year that the best part about being rescued was having a lock on the door and not having to worry about being raped at night. She told me she wants to go to school but has no money. One man offered to let her go to school in exchange for being his mistress. She said no but is so sad that she cannot learn. She wants to be a news broadcaster. It took great courage for her to talk to me. Her unforgettable story has only just begun…we have rescued her and her future is bright. So that’s what my tears are for this morning.|
|Next, we go to Rwanda. I never imagined that I would find it difficult to leave, but that’s exactly how I feel. I have fallen in love with Kenya.|