A team of five volunteers made a 25-hour trek to Nairobi, Kenya on Friday, August 3rd. For three of them, this was their first time to travel to Africa with our impact partner, Mocha Club. Their purpose was two-fold: to use their assets – their love, their experience organizing fundraising races here in the US, and their capacity to care well for others; and to learn from the ingenuity, the solutions, and the ongoing stamina of the leaders we walk alongside in Africa.
They stopped first in Mombasa, Kenya. This huge port town on the edge of the Indian Ocean is a major stop for many wealthy tourists in Africa. But it’s also the home of one of the world’s largest and last leprosy camps. We’ve shared a bit about Peter Ochiel, but these members wanted to see first-hand what it looks like to love and care for individuals rejected by their communities and ostracized because of a curable disease. They visited homes, they removed parasites from children’s hands and feet, they laughed and shared meals with the staff and families who give their whole lives in this corner of the world.
Next, they moved to the Huruma slum to spend three days with Irene Tongoi. Many of these team members have helped organize a fundraising race here in the US to support the work Irene is doing in the New Dawn school. As she and her staff prepared for the second annual running in Nairobi, she prayed God would send her additional help and encouragement in the final few days. That help came in the shape of these members, several of whom knew exactly what it looked like to throw a race like this. Their contribution of organization, encouragement, and passion helped make this race highly successful.
When these volunteers got back, they organized a time to share about their trip – and Peter Ochiel was in town – so it was a reunion of sorts. While they were together, we circled back to their original purpose: in what ways had their gifts been helpful in Kenya? Peter’s reply was encouragement. Their presence was seen in this community as such an honor. Their love and encouragement and willingness to touch the skin of an outcast brought joy, and laughter, and dignity. Their touch was a tangible expression of the hours of work Peter puts in every month. As to what they learned, Kathryn mentioned how simple an act it was to engage and ask questions about someone’s story — but also how profound. Fallon nodded her head and added “it’s so simple to give the love I have to another.”
Success was experienced by them all. Community – a sense of belonging and being known, a place where the pronouns used are “we” — was deepened.
Read more from these members and see their trip in pictures here.