03 March 2008

WHAT WILL WE DO THERE (PART 1): Oasis of Hope

Oasis of Hope is a drop-in center for street kids in Kitale, Kenya. You can also visit their site here.

There are thousands of "street kids" in Kenya. These boys and girls have either been orphaned from diseases, including AIDS, or abandoned, or are simply neglected by their parents. Regardless of reasons, these children wander the streets day and night looking for food, scrounging for change to buy a variety of things--more often than not, inexpensive shoe glue that contains an addictive chemical that makes them high. This high will curb hunger, dull pain, and pass the time. It is a sad little life, but many will never know any different.

Three years ago, an American woman named Lydia had a conversation with a Kenyan man, Geoffrey, about his wildest dreams. He had a desire to open a drop-in centre for the street kids in the city of Kitale, Kenya. Oasis of Hope was formed. (Though the process was much more difficult than this sentence lets on.)

The drop-in centre provided daily breakfast (tea and toast) and lunch (typically a stewish-soup). In between meals, the kids are taught English, Swahili, math, Bible, reading, writing...basic school subjects. After lunch, the kids return to their life on the street...fortunately, now they have full bellies.

In the last three years, Oasis of Hope has grown to over one hundred students. Glue is not allowed in the centre, and many students have decreased (if not completely given up) their glue habit.

In the last year or so, a second "phase" of the plan has been launched; students who show dedication are (over time) placed in to group homes in the community. Each home has 6 same gender kids and are parented by a couple from the local church. The students transfer in to the community school and learn to develop societal skills (in a home, in a family, with siblings) outside of the street mentality they have had, some practically since birth.

There are currently 3 boys homes and 1 girls home. We, on my most recent trip, were able to visit one of the community schools that one boys house attends. The boys who had attended Oasis of Hope met us out front to tell us about their lives: names, ages, and future careers. The answers were amazing...pastor, teacher, doctor, lawyer, President.

What I can't shake is that three years ago, these boys were hopeless. They ate out of dumpsters. Were beaten by the police. Some were sexually abused by passers-by. And now, they have such an unbelievable path ahead of them. To think, some of them may not have lived much longer, and if they had, it would have been in drug-induced haze. Now, they are educated, healthy and happy. All because Jeffery dared to dream.

I want, so badly, to be a part of what they are doing in this centre. These teachers, who are well-educated and fully qualified to work in any other school, choose to be part of making a huge difference in the lives of these otherwise unloved children.

These kids, this community, and ultimately Kenya (President) will be different because of these teachers who are willing to take the time to help.

I hope you will join me in prayer for these kids, teachers, and their future...

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