Last week, we had the privilege of spending time in Mathare, which is another slum in Nairobi. It is half the size of Kibera, but there are still a great deal of people living there. One of the pastors told us the population is about 600,000.
Mathare has a completely different feel than Kibera, though they are similar in a lot of ways. The poverty is clear but Mathare is more developed. And, it was safer for us to walk around, so we got a better idea of what is going on. I asked one of the guys what he thought was the biggest problem in Mathare for the youth and he quickly said, "unemployment...there are no jobs." You see a lot of people that are idle, and one might be quick to assume that they are just lazy but the majority just can't find jobs. So you find people idle, but it's not by choice. I did, however, see so many people selling various things. Everywhere you go, you can find someone trying to do something to provide for their families which is always encouraging. They might be selling maize, mandazi, shoes, clothes, beans, and/or all sorts of other things. I think that if some of the people without jobs could get some start-up capital, they could really make a business for themselves. The African people, if nothing else, are very creative and they love to work with their hands. I love it.
LIA has been in Mathare for about a year and a half. They are currently working with a group of youth and a group of women for economic empowerment. We got to hang out with the youth (ages 15-23) on Tuesday. They have a business together selling fresh juices in the market. So we got to wash, peel, and juice many fruits/veggies that day with them. We had paw paw, mango, pineapple, oranges, watermelon, carrots, beet root...I think that was everything. So, they sell the juices and share the love of Christ with the community. And then, they split the money amongst themselves. LIA has gotten them all savings accounts, and encourages them to save their money. Very cool.
On Wednesday and Thursday we spent time with the women's fellowship. I love them! They are so much like a family and Keziah and Beth (LIA staff in Mathare) were telling us that they just share and encourage one another openly. For their business they do a lot of bead work...purses, necklaces/bracelets, jewelry boxes, and they do some knitting too. We got to work on purses with them those two days. Most of the women are the sole providers for their families so it's great they have something to do that not only helps them economically but spiritually as well. This week was mainly a time of sharing and fellowship. I loved to hear from the women and to learn about their dreams and desires as we worked alongside them. They are very funny women and they love the Lord =)
Almost forgot - we went on home visits on Monday. They split us up and we went to one house each. Daniel and I were together with Pastor Jennifer and one of the young CHEs, Bernard. We visited the home of Jane...very sweet lady. She is there by herself doing the best she can to provide for herself and her two children. The father is not in their lives but she makes a living selling beaded pieces to a sandal-maker. I later found out that she's part of the women's fellowship, too! My face lit up when I saw her again on Wednesday lol because I thought I never would. At her home she showed us some of her work and it was stunning. We talked with her for a while and prayed for her needs and gave encouragement to her along with a bag of food items. Home visits are really something special. I wish we did them more in the US.
Friday is Mathare's prayer and fasting day so we joined them for that. And since it was the last Friday of the month, we took the Lord's Supper with them as well. It was a much needed time of prayer and reflection. And then we headed to Thika! Busy, busy, busy. The pastors were disappointed that we couldn't spend Sunday with them. =(
Thanks for reading, Rebecca.
Us with the youth and LIA Mathare staff after our morning of juicing =)