September 19th, 2017
Many Hopes: An Organization Changing the World in Kenya
In 2012, through Eagle Creek’s Live.Work.Travel. program, I volunteered in Kilifi, Kenya with an organization that rescues street children from abuse. Many Hopes provides an education, a place to live, appropriate care, mentorship, and legal aid to girls left abandoned or removed due to physical abuse.
Eagle Creek does this incredible thing where they gift employees with an extra 5 days of PTO if we serve with a not-for-profit organization. And so, I did just that. I had met one of the founders, Thomas Keown, when I was living in Boston five years prior. So, when it came time to think about where I wanted to volunteer, Many Hopes was at the top of the list. I was able to volunteer with the organization for 10 days – and those 10 days flew by. The girls were delightful and the staff is absolutely moving mountains out in Kenya.
The whole experience was incredible. And yes, it was incredible to see a part of the world I hadn’t yet seen… but the trip was even more incredible because of the girls.
It was also soul-jeering, heart-breaking, and unsettling to know that each of the girls I was working with had been a street child or victim of abuse. Yet, when I met them, saw them for the first time, they were just little girls. Sweet, young children and adolescents whose eyes were those of children wanting to connect, learn, and play. And so, we did. And it brought me life.
One night, we put on a fashion show. Some of the volunteers had packed pretty dresses, jewelry, and make-up from the States in order to bring out all the bells-and-whistles and make the girls feel like princesses.
Another day, we made Christmas cookies. Another we watched Harry Potter. We went to the beach together. We wrote stories and made up plays. We went into town to watch a 3D movie and then went bowling. They showed me their garden and how they harvest their food. They walked me around their home and showed me their cows and chickens, which they tended and cared for to provide sustenance for their entire (60+ girls) household.
When I went to visit in December 2012, there were about 60 girls living at the “home” and an incredible staff making it all possible. The leadership of the organization, had so much passion and love for the girls. The house mothers, the cooks, the gardeners, and the older girls who took care of the younger. It was wonderful to be reminded of what truly matters – and to see this community caring for each other so well. <3
I often think back to that December and how it changed me. How I saw redemption and renewal happening all around. Hope and healing amidst brokenness and despair. And yet, brokenness is all around. Everyday. And I didn’t have long to forget that. When I came home to San Diego, I found myself in a very despairing situation after the suicide of a more-than-close family friend, someone I considered a little brother. And it reminded me that brokenness and evil really is all around. And so this is my call to ask each of you to be present and change the world one moment, one encouragement, one hug, and one act of kindness at a time.
Here’s to the people who work to prevent trafficking, to provide support to recovering addicts, to counsel those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, to those who serve folks with cancer, or bring meals to the elderly. There are so many people who need love. We all do. I promise to do my best to be a steward of love. To give of myself when it’s not convenient or slightly uncomfortable. Join me?
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