This is the start of the chicken coop! We have the help of our amazing friends from Soul Edge. Over the last couple of months we've spent many evenings with this group of guys and now we're finally getting to work on a project together!
My Kitale family has spent lots of time chatting about what we can do to help Oasis of Hope. Ultimately, we want to make Oasis more sustainable. A chicken coop is our first step to helping this amazing place provide a some food for itself and a source of revenue.
We've made this project something we are doing WITH the boys who live at Oasis, not just FOR them. There is such a difference between these two things. I don't want to solidify in their mind the things that we, as mzungus, continually demonstrate to people in Africa- that they are incapable and that they NEED us. This isn't true. Yes, they might need our boost, but they also have many skills and abilities of their own and we need to encourage them to utilize their talents. We need to empower the people we are working to help, not just do it for them. Our solution ends up having short-term effects because at some point we leave and we leave them with no knowledge of how to run the project efficiently and effectively. I also wonder why we think our ideas are so much better than theirs. Who says what works for us in our country will work for them here? Besides, they know more about their culture, environment and resources than I'll ever understand so they're the ones who need to be deciding what will work best for their community. When we come in and say that we're going to do this for you so you just sit here and watch us make this thing magically appear we aren't empowering them; instead, we are limiting their potential. They just become dependent on aid and relief because they begin to believe they are inferior and we are superior and therefore they can't do anything without us. This mentality makes them just sit and wait for us to come around and 'help' them. I know that sounds harsh. They will never learn the process of development or bringing things into fruition if we don't let them learn it. I want to take on the mindset that neither one of us--me or the people here in Kenya--have this figured out; instead, we are all broken and need Jesus to fix us. All of this to say that we aren't the ones who can bring healing to this world- Jesus is the one. With that in mind, we are his ambassadors in this world and should work through his power to restore the brokenness around us. Material poverty in this world is immense, but more importantly so is spiritual poverty. Let's not forget to take care of the spiritual poverty within ourselves and those around us.
Well, these are my thoughts. They're scattered and still developing, but they've certainly changed my way of doing things here in Kitale. Our team has decided to really incorporate the boys who live at and attend Oasis each day in this chicken coop project. Before starting the building process, I went down and talked with the boys about why we want to help them better equip Oasis for long-term success and then did some brain storming with them. I'm hoping that these boys can learn the process that takes place to make something like this happen so that perhaps someday they can create ideas and then bring them into being on their own. The boys were so excited about doing things that would bring a long term benefit to Oasis and were anxious to get things started- such a blessing! I loved seeing that they were so onboard for bettering their circumstances through sustainable options. When we were brainstorming Etao, a 17 year old boy who lives at Oasis, said that he wanted to use the money Oasis earns from selling the eggs to send the younger boys to school. How precious is that? Gosh, I love these boys- they are always looking out for one another even though before coming to Oasis none of them knew each other, but now they are like brothers and I love it! It makes me so happy to see these boys looking after one another and working hard to better each others lives and love one another in a Christ-like way. I'm excited to see these boys take ownership of this chicken coop project and to allow them to see the benefits of their hard work.
On Monday, after just two days, we were able to completely finish the chicken coop. We could not have done this without the Soul Edge boys- their knowledge, skills and hard work enabled this idea to come to life. Our next step will be raising the money necessary to fill the chicken coop with healthy chickens! We've started this project without knowing exactly how we will pay for everything, but we've jumped in with both feet, trusting that God will continue to provide.
Let me share with you one story of how God's provided:
I would also like to thank my friend, Kayla Lunsford. In March, I received a message from Kayla. Kayla told me that she had set aside money with the intentions of giving it for ministry needs and that she wanted this money to go towards the needs I saw here in Kitale. I can't tell you how much this message encouraged me. I know Kayla, who attended Baylor with me and now attends graduate school at Texas A&M, works so hard to earn the money that she needs to pay for her schooling. Her decision to step out in faith and willingly give her hard-earned money for the sake of others is beautiful. It demonstrates her love for others and for God. To see her, in the midst a busy life, intentionally find ways to bless others has inspired me so much. The simple willingness and desire to budget and plan so that she can bless others shows so much wisdom and compassion and because of it I can see God working through Kayla right here in Kitale!