It came when I least expected it and much harder that I ever could have predicted.

There have been many physically demanding days of long walks in the sun and I knew there would be days where the emotional exhaustion would also drain me. However, no matter how much preparation you think you do, you cannot be ready to have your heart and soul broken down time and time again in the same time, within a matter of a few hours.

Seeing Through a Glass Darkly

The more time I spend in Kenya the more aware I am of how little I really know. I may have a pretty good understanding of some “facts” and I may be getting a deeper understanding of some issues, but as a mzungu (a term with varied definitions…the one I prefer is “traveler”) I am aware that I will never completely understand this complex culture or the individual lives within it. I have to be content with “seeing through a glass darkly.”

God willing … Be strong

When I leave someone’s company here, my tendency is to say something about how I look forward to seeing them again. Without fail, the response I get is “God willing.” For some, that response speaks to their belief that God controls all the minutiae of life and has a specific plan for our lives. For all, however, it is a recognition that life is precarious and illness, accidents or death can interrupt one’s plans at any time. Kenyans tend to have fewer illusions than I do about being in control of life.

Please don’t forget us…

Just when I think I have seen the worst of Kenyan roads, I travel another one that makes all others pale by comparison. In the same way, just when I think I have seen the worst living situations in our service area, I visit a new place which is even more desperate. Such was my experience today visiting Nametsa Primary School.

Grace and Winnie

Today was a great time visiting a wonderful friend, Grace Atero. Grace and I met in 2007 when the Project just had gotten underway and we had enrolled only 7 secondary school students (we are over 100 now). One of those 7 students was at Ogada Secondary School, where Grace served as the visionary and dynamic Principal. We quickly became friends, and I have visited with Grace every trip since.


The last couple of days have been a time simply to listen. First, I visited 5 secondary schools to listen to the Head Teachers talk about the problems girls encounter trying to complete their secondary education. Most schools start their lessons by 6:15 in the morning and don’t dismiss until 12 hours later. The long hours, compounded by the long distances walked from home to school, mean that girls are walking in the dark, risking their safety every day. I listened, while the school administrators expressed their concern for these young girls and their hope that Umoja will find a way to allow more of the girls to enroll in boarding schools, although it is a much more expensive option than day school.


My command of the Dhluo language is limited to a few essential words, including “erokamano” which means “thank you.” I love listening to people’s prayers because I hear “erokamano” said so frequently I feel I actually understand almost all of the prayer.

Yesterday was no different as I went on home visits with some of the Hope Women’s Group to deliver our greetings and a small supply of food to 8 elderly grandmothers.


Over the weekend, my assignment was to visit 5 different congregations and an interfaith prayer service, bringing greetings from Indiana and sharing a bit about the Umoja Project. Much of the time I was accompanied by a group of five young adults, 18-22 years of age, who are part of the assortment of people who gather at Margaret’s house. Maurine, Perez, Criss, Timothy and Meshak all finished secondary school, but none has been able to find steady employment or raise the money necessary to continue their education. Unfortunately, they are only a minute fraction of the young Kenyans with this problem. Except for the very top students who are given government scholarships to go to the university, the post-secondary prospects are dim for a student who lives in poverty.

Hope Women’s Group

I doubt many of the women of Hope Women’s Group were aware that last Monday was International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women around the globe. If they knew, I have no idea what they would think about such a day –I can imagine they might wonder how anyone has the time to celebrate when there is so much work to be done! However, for me, this group embodies both the accomplishments and challenges that International Women’s Day is designed to recognize.