The First Few Days
By: David Rawls
The team arrived at Nairobi International Airport late Sunday, June 25th. The prayers for safe travels were felt as we traveled thousands of miles from our respective homes in Virginia. On Monday the 27th the team awoke very late because of jet lag and took a walk through the nearby tea fields. It had been many years since I had seen Kenyan tea fields, having traveled to Kenya with my family in late 2007. We witnessed God’s beauty in the picturesque scenery and kind people we passed as we strolled through the tea fields. On Tuesday June 27th, Dr. Talty rode to Joy Village Orphanage and began giving check-ups for the children there. We are very lucky to have a doctor in our group like Dr. Talty, who is a great woman of faith as well as a highly skilled physician. Meanwhile, Megan, Madison, and I took a tour of Nazareth Hospital with Vinton, one of the pastoral counselors. Our tour was very educational. We visited multiple patients, some in more critical condition than others. I was able to take some pictures of patients and doctors to share with our Tree of Lives family overseas. I found the Lord’s presence in many patients who were truly joyful, hopeful, and pleased with their treatment at the hospital.
On Wednesday June 28th, Megan and Dr. Talty traveled to Joy Village. Megan is a school counselor in the States and is very good with children. Each day since Tuesday Dr. Talty has visited Joy Village, giving the children their much-needed check-ups. Madison spent the day at the Allamano School spending time with the young children there. I was able to visit the Holy Family Center while the HIV positive youth were having their clinic time and team building activities. I witnessed all the great things these HIV positive youth were doing, from making soap and bead necklaces to gardening in their green house and learning computer skills with the six plus computers available to them. As part of my work in Kenya, I will be collecting images and interviews to help bring their stories to people back home. This day, I interviewed Peter, the youth leader, who told me all about the opportunities and blessings that the Holy Family Center given him and his other peer mentors. Peter’s job has been cut recently, and he is no longer receiving payment for his leadership at the Holy Family Center. However, Peter still leads the group twice a month and participates with their outreach mission work, visiting homes of HIV positive individuals. Peter’s faith and desire to keep working is an inspiration to the other peer mentors and to me too. I was able to film most of the activities including soap making that day. The youth truly benefit greatly from the Holy Family Center.
On Thursday June 29th, Dr. Talty and Madison traveled to Joy Village. Meanwhile, Megan and I went to the nearby Allamano School. Megan had the great honor of giving each child his or her snack during their 10:15 AM break; meanwhile I took pictures. During the break, Megan and I had tea with Teacher George, some of the Allamano teachers, and one of the Consolata sisters. After the break, Megan and I were able to sit in during classes at the school. I witnessed firsthand Teacher George’s ability to control his class and teach them important math skills. I was able to take many pictures and videos during our time at Allamano School. My highlight of that day was reading Green Eggs and Ham to the children who were a great audience.
Since landing in Kenya this past Sunday, the team has had some eye-opening and humbling experiences. As we go forward, we know that God is with us and everything we do here will make an impact on Kenyan lives. I have been honored to document each of our experiences with my cameras and am anxious to share them with the Tree of Lives family through social media and website postings.