I would ask kindly that you read the following blog from my daughter Maggie as she spends her summer at the “First Love” orphanage near Nairobi, Kenya.  As you prayerfully read her words, please consider becoming involved.  If you are so led to help, please contact Maggie via the attached email address as she will help with logistics regarding ordering and payment.  To a more specific audience, I would ask any website developers amongst the readers to consider helping in refining their website, bringing it to full function.  Our prayer is that it can then be effectively maintained and operated by the folks onsite. Catalog Baraka Women’s Centre.

God is Good,

Scott

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[L]ast time I wrote a blog for Joy Squared, I had just returned from South Africa. A little over a year later, I have returned to Africa. As some of you may know, I am in Kenya right now. The original plan was for a friend of mine, Kaela, who I met my freshman year of college, and I to go to a small orphanage of 17 kids in the more remote, country side of Kenya. A few weeks before we were set to leave, we got news that the director and founder of the orphanage was forced to leave and the orphanage would be fully Kenyan run. This meant we were no longer able to serve there. Kaela and I had already purchased our plane tickets and were determined to spend our summer in Kenya. The director hooked us up with a friend of hers who directs an orphanage on the outskirts of Nairobi and Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. Admittedly, the idea of coming to this orphanage was unsettling. I was set on the idea of being at a small orphanage in the middle of a beautiful countryside for months and weeks before we left, the plan was so different. We had little information about this orphanage. We didn’t even know what a typical day would look like for us. Regardless, we headed to Kenya a few days after finishing our final exams of our junior year at Azusa Pacific University. After being here for a little over a month, let me tell you, I could not be more thankful for the change of plans. The orphanage is called First Love. It is the home to 85 children, mostly originally from Kibera. It has been such a joy spending time with the kids; they are so loving and appreciative of our time spent here.

I have learned and been humbled by many stories. Almost every child comes from a tragic past. Most of them still manage to be happy and loving towards their fellow brothers and sisters. I was the witness of a beautiful act of compassion. Every evening, the children spend their time in the dining hall doing homework. Kaela and I are there to assist with any homework help (that is if we can manage to remember things we learned from elementary school math like the division of fractions). During this time, there is much distraction as the kids are in close quarters trying to complete homework when all they really want to do is be kids, boisterous and playful. So, while we do homework we have fun and joke and really get to know and understand the personalities of each kid. A few days ago at homework time, the girls from the fifth grade notified me that there class was having a field trip, but the First Love kids are not able to go because they cannot afford to. Well, typically, they can’t go. A few of them got the opportunity to go because their teachers offered to pay for them. Though it is kind the teacher paid for some, it was unfair for the rest. It is always a bummer to be left out. One child who felt the sting of this the most was Branees. She sat at homework time and sulked and cried. She is one of the newest children of First Love, only have lived here since December. Branees did not understand why she could not go on the field trip. Meanwhile, her best friend Sheila was one of the lucky kids being paid for. Sheila has lived here longer than Branees and understands the reality of life and the disappointment of not being able to participate in exciting opportunities. Knowing how upset Branees was, Sheila would not tell Branees that she was going on the trip, though she was very excited to share with us that she was able to go. I was truly blown away by the compassion of this nine year old girl. To be so young and understand compassion so well is a hard thing to come across. An average nine year old would be too overwhelmed with excitement to keep something like that from his or her best friend. Kids here grow up much faster though. They have to in order to understand things and live happily. She is wise beyond her years. It was such a simple act of love, but I am so blessed to have been a witness. Things like this make me realize that it was no mistake that my plans were changed.

Helping children in Kenya was the true reason I came to Kenya, but I spend most of my time doing something else. Here at the compound of First Love, there is a building called the Baraka Women’s Center (Baraka means blessed in Swahili). It serves as a blessing for single mothers from Kibera. The Baraka Women’s Center teaches women how to sew. They use this skill to make bags, aprons, skirts, etc, which are sold to provide the women with a source of income so they can feed and take care of their families. Ginger Peterson, from Atlanta, Georgia, has been on several month long trips through the course of the past couple years to assist and establish Baraka Women’s Center. She is here now and needs help with organization, marketing, web site design, and things of that manner. Monday through Friday, we are in the women’s center assisting with anything Ginger needs. Though my three years of getting my BA in Biblical Studies and Kaela’s in nursing does not provide me with those skills, we are somehow managing. We have adopted the mission of the women’s center as our own and are willing to do anything to further its cause. Again, the Baraka Women’s Center was not part of my original plan, but it has served as the biggest blessing in Kenya thus far.

Needless to say, life in Kenya has humbled me and blessed me. It is easy to get caught up as a college student, in the business of life. I understand it is important to further your education, but sometimes you feel the certain selfishness of going to college. It is all about you and your future. I was hit like a ton of bricks when I witnessed the compassion of a little girl. The Baraka Women’s Center also reminds me of compassion as I see Ginger devote her time to helping women who really need help and women who graciously receive it. My hope is that I do not have to travel all the way across the world to be reminded of the importance of compassion, every day in all we do.

I am here now to promote Baraka Women’s Center to my Joy Squared readers. The website for the women’s center is being worked on, it is taking time since the Biblical Studies and Nursing college students know nothing about website design. Please take a look at these products and fabrics that are shown in the catalog. There are fun, bold African fabrics to go with quality made bags and other sorts of useful things. I personally love the executive bag.

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Email me if you want to purchase something at mdenton11@apu.edu.

Tell me the product and fabric you want and you will receive it at the end of July when I return to the U.S. Not only will you get a cool, African-made souvenir, you will have blessed a woman and her family with the precious gift of life. Here is the link to the catalog in PDF form, Catalog Baraka Women’s Centre.