Growing up in Mathare, the teenage years are make or break for many. Teen pregnancy, drugs, single parent financially strapped homes, gang recruitment and violence are not just buzzwords describing life in areas of extreme poverty, but are the harsh reality surrounding majority of our students. E. E Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” It takes courage to dream about a better and brighter future for yourself when surrounded by a community that says there is no hope. It takes courage to be different in your words and actions, choosing the hard road of diligence and discipline when everyone around you chooses the easy road. It takes courage to care; to reject apathy and care about yourself, your family and those whom society have forgotten. It takes courage to give sacrificially when everything in society tells you, you should be looking out for number one. At Mawewa School, our Rites of Passage (ROPES®) program, which every Class 8 student takes part in, offers a path to harness our students courage and direct it to shape them into becoming who they really are.
As part of ROPES®, one of the lessons dubbed ‘iContribute’ saw the students challenged to give back. Despite their own personal financial challenges, our students plucked up their courage to ask friends and family or even do odd jobs to raise money over the August holiday. At the beginning of the term, they put together their contributions ranging from KES 50 – KES 200 (50ct – $2) raising a total of KES 1600 ($16). With this money they were able to buy a bale of Maize meal, vegetables and other non-perishables to donate to the Missions of Charity home. Missions of Charity, located in nearby Huruma, cares for women and children with physical disabilities, many of whom have been abandoned by their families who do not have the knowledge, patience or resources to take care of them. Each day the women and children are fed, cleaned, helped to move around, and prayed with. Volunteers work in catering, cleaning and caring for the flower, vegetable and fruit tree gardens.
Missions of Charity were excited to welcome our energetic young Mawewa students who were enthusiastic about serving. Our students joined in the children’s morning prayer before they broke up into different service groups. Through their day, our students and accompanying teachers scrubbed the outdoor cleaning areas for both the children and women, and helped with laundry. They also helped feed some of the older children who are not able to feed themselves, restocked firewood, and cleaned the lunch dishes. After all the activities, the students presented their gift to the Sister-in-charge of Mission of Charity home, who in turn presented each student with a memento; a photo of Mother Teresa and a charm that would act as a reminder to pray for the needy in the world.
After their visit, Mawewa students reflected on their experience, expressing their appreciation for their own good health and challenged each other to be generous givers. The students also learnt practical ways to make giving a lifestyle in the future as they discussed how to make and keep a budget. Above all they learnt that God has a good plan and purpose for each person. As our students continue to participate in our ROPES® program and as they continue to grow, we hope and pray that they have the courage to become who they really are: revolutionary Christ centered teens and young adults who will change their community.