by: David Rawls
I am over two weeks into my trip in Kiambu, Kenya. I have been able to make great relationships with many Kenyan employees at Nazareth Hospital, Joy Village orphanage, Allamano School, and the Holy Family Center HIV clinic. I’ve also had the opportunity to befriend patients, orphaned children, school children, and HIV positive individuals. These experiences have been nothing short of heavenly. Each one presents a unique story that I hope will touch the hearts of many and generate greater interest in addressing both the immense need and the incredible potential of the Kenyan people.
My first hospital interview involved a man who was the first person in his family to learn how to read. Joseph was a great student early on and had dreams of eventually becoming a doctor and helping the sick and broken. This dream was made impossible, for he was pulled out of school in fourth grade and forced to work odd jobs to help support his family. It is hard to imagine being denied the right to an education, but in Kenya, this is a very common reality. As Joseph continued to work for very low wages, both of his parents became ill and died, leaving him responsible for his siblings, including his disabled brother. Joseph became ill in his mid-20s and was diagnosed with HIV during this period. Since his diagnosis, Joseph has found help and hope at Nazareth Hospital and says that the hospital “saved my life.” Joseph now attends mass each Sunday, praising God for the good in his life, and also has aspirations of opening his own poultry farm.
Part of my experience in Kenya has been to document the stories, victories, and challenges that surround the work that Tree of Lives is doing in Kenya. I am eager to get back to the States so I can compile and share the information I’ve gathered to help support the mission of Tree of Lives. My time here has also made me consider pursuing a career in international aid, so great is the need and even greater is the reward. The past two weeks have been transformative, and I am excited to see what new stories I will find in my next couple weeks in Kenya.