Being a first-timer to Africa, my eyes have been opened to so much! Yes, Kenya is filled with barely passable, rugged dirt roads and paths, poor drainage with ditches filled with raw sewage, many living quarters with no running water or toilets, and electricity that comes and goes. But . . . walk into the walls of Provision Education Centre in Soweto, a slum area outside of Nairobi and you will see a much different picture.
Yes, you have hard brown and dusty dirt beneath your feet on the playground, but you see uniformed children learning in 11 different classrooms with a caring teacher, a black board, and bright-eyes ready to learn, play, and face a long day! The uniforms may be tattered and missing buttons, and the socks and shoes are dusty from the hard dirt courtyard that serves as a small confined play yard.
You see a tapped borehole well springing forth with fresh water daily for the children and staff to use. The water is also offered to the surrounding slum community inhabitants for a very reasonable few Kenyan shillings. You hear chants, singing, bustling, prayers, and praises being given to God! You hear children learning and asking questions in English and Kiswahili.
You see students serving each other in ways I have never seen in America. After ample meals of rice, beans, cabbage, or kale, students bring their plastic bowls back to the kitchen area and commence gathering soap, washing bins, and bits of woven plastic bags to wash all of the dishes used for a meal. You see the older students grabbing the hands of the little ones to help them when they fall. You see the students setting up the gathering area (which also is the church sanctuary) with chairs each time they gather as a large group of approximately 140 students. You see students bent over washing the painted concrete walkway areas that surround the entry to their classrooms to remove the dried mud and dirt daily.
You do NOT see toys, electronics, or even a computer for the students . . . but each student has a class book for subjects where all of the work is written and checked by the teacher. You do NOT see a copy machine, a computer, or even a printer for the teachers to use. Teachers write or draw everything on the hanging well-used slate on the wall of the classroom. You do NOT see a pencil sharpener on each wall of the classroom, nor in the room where the teacher’s gather to prepare their lessons or “take tea”. Rather, a teacher with a razor blade sharpens the pencils when a student comes and asks.
You do NOT find playground equipment, grass, or any shaded areas on the playground, rather you find children running in and out of the gated area perhaps kicking a ball that has been kicked into the raw sewage drains. You do NOT find wet wipes, Band-Aids, napkins, or any disposable cups . . . children dry their hands with the warmth of the sun and breeze. Students share washable plastic mugs with handles to get a drink of water from the spigots.
Every item is used to its fullest potential . . . waste is not prevalent . . . love is felt . . .service abounds . . .prayers are given to God . . . praises are sung . . .God is given the glory . . .God is smiling down on the children, staff, and families of Provision Education Centre!
Would you like to have your eyes and hearts opened to the people of Kenya and experience the many blessings that flow from serving in Soweto? Plan to take time away from the hustle and bustle of your life in America and join a future mission team to experience the culture, the love, and the oneness that is available in Soweto, Kenya at Provision Education Centre!
– Colette Crandall, a first time visitor to Provision Education Centre