April 25, 2015                                                            written by teresa spurlock
Taraja.   never forget…

home visit to John Murwa

John Murwa…an amazing kid

He grew up in the slums – third born of five. More often than not food was scarce –  nor was there a place to lay his head at night. Like many, he roamed… At a young age, John found himself rounded up by police with other boys on the street. All scared, many hardened and rebellious, but John and a handful of others carried hope – and Taraja Director Robert saw it. For several years they lived at Youth for Christ’s Taraja Home – a transitional orphanage outside of Athi River, Kenya. The younger boys would attend school during the day nearly 10 miles from the home. When the van would break down, the boys walked, leaving well before dawn and arriving home well after it was dark…

Among them was John. He realized early on he was being given an opportunity and he did not take it for granted.  When he graduated from P8 he tested well and was taken to Jericho High School to board. We (how101) matched him with a sponsor who was a son of a doctor. This inspired John and drove him to study even harder. When we visited him at school in 2012 he was all smiles, even through the nerves!  The headmaster applauded him for his work ethic and encouraged him to work even harder as his goal was to become a physician. At the time John was pulling A’s and B’s and promised to study even harder to achieve more…

The bridge over ....
The bridge over

During holidays Taraja boys return to the home communities – which for most – is the slum.  This is for the hope of reintegrating as a self-sustaining leader one day, but also mandated by Kenya’s government to keep connections with family ties.

 

 

4John is the only hope in his family. Today we visited his mother and siblings in their meager home in Kingston near Murkuru slum. Last night’s rain made this a bit tricky. As with most slum areas, the dirt and open sewage system becomes mud and 8sludge.  Trying to slip down back allies, truly becomes a slippery slope! We were aided in navigation by John and two friends from Taraja – Michael and Duncan. It was a sweet reunion for these 3 boys. All destined to be leaders – all with challenges beyond measure. 

Michael, John Murwa & Duncan
Michael, John Murwa & Duncan

 

As for me, my heart swells each time I see them as I’m so proud of their perseverance, tenacity and growth! 

 

carrying food to John's home
carrying food to John’s home

We stopped at Nakumatt to get a big bag of rice, beans, sugar and other staples… John was so pleased to give to his mother. This will alleviate him from working the rest of his holiday break…

 

John and mum Beatrice
John and mum Beatrice

However, today was bittersweet. When we finally reach the home of John’s mother, we hear the truth. This place, like most others, is likely temporary as she is not able to keep up with rent. While fairly new, the room is probably 8 feet by 10 feet. The floor is dirt, there is one old small couch, a covered shelf and a curtain that separates the single bed behind it. John’s mom Beatrice shares this bed with her 13 year old daughter Ruth and younger brother David.

Sister Ruth and brother David
Sister Ruth and brother David

What we know is that when John is home on holiday, there is no room for him here…He is a good son. He comes back to do odd jobs, such as fetching water or any labor possible to earn a few shillings so his mom and siblings can eat. He, himself stays in another place where his 2 older brothers have camped in. They do not work. His mother is disabled and cannot work. John is the only hope….and yet John wakes up each morning hungry and after caring for others, spends time trying to get food for himself..

Robert, Bev, Lois, John
Robert, Bev, Lois, John

Beverly and I sat and listened while John and his mom shared silent tears… I asked John if he feels the pressure and he nods that it is unbearable. Taraja Director Robert spent a good amount of time yesterday counselling and advising him. Telling him he must get A’s and find the strength to carry on and succeed, so that he may be able to return one day to care for his family completely.  It is a Catch 22. At this time John is getting B’s – in a difficult course of study. When asked how others are getting A’s, he explains that they are able to go in to the school from 8-4 each day during the school holidays. They are all “candidates” so they are helping one another study to succeed. John has not been able to join them, he is looking for food for himself and his family…

Teresa and John
Teresa and John

John’s sponsor recently changed course and can no longer send funds. We were able to get him a new one, but the monthly fees are not enough to cover all needs. This is true for most of the boys in higher education. In John’s case, it’s urgent.  I promised him that we would not let him be hungry during holidays. We will be depositing funds to help he and the other Taraja boys tomorrow. We are so grateful for a generous friend of how101 who watches from a distance and occasionally sends funds. Funds that are greatly needed and will be used to bless many… Here is the problem, those funds will run out…

Taraja is in need of committed monthly donors and prayer partners – beyond school fees.  And while there are literally thousands of more street boys waiting to come to a place like Taraja, more cannot be taken in until those in the program are truly taken care of… To run the home it takes $1000/month…

The land surrounding it is fertile and progress is being made to grow crops for income. We are so grateful for funds raised to erect a second greenhouse last December.  But, for years it has been one step forward two steps backwards. The most recent catastrophe was that all crops that were ready to be harvested, died 3 days before gathering… One dilemma after another, has caused us all to shake our head and ask…WHY?

Please consider helping through prayer and/or finances. Both are badly needed. For more information, email tarajaproject@gmail.com
Each boy is special and holds promise – we do not forget…

Post 2 of 2.

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Lake Victoria (near Entebbe) Uganda (post 1 of 2)

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We were happy to participate in another “Suubi” graduation! (4/29/14)
This group of young mothers at extreme risk finished a 3 month course in special cookery – and baked the cake to showcase their talent!

 

Community comes in many forms, sometimes in the simplest of ways.  The children of these young mums are in the Starfish program, which blesses both the children and the mums.  All have all been loved and cared for by the Youth for Christ Uganda staff at Mirembe House (Crisis Pregnancy Center in Kampala, Uganda) and love coming back for reunions and special occasions.

We are privileged to come alongside them once a year at the Annual Mom’s Day Out, offer encouragement and training, provide a good lunch and this year, give them new blankets!

all about Kibera Kids – taken in by Kenya YFC – share their dance moves throughout the slums – and beyond! We helped fund transport for them to go to Mombasa where they were going to sleep on a church floor and share their faith through dance on the corners. EveryONE has something to give to the world – these kids and leaders are exceptional!

by Teresa

 

Partners for One

Kenya Youth for Christ’s Taraja Home has sheltered, educated and reintegrated orphaned boys ages 9-18 for many years. Challenges are never ending, but these boys work so hard. They fall down, they get up. We (how101) search for sponsors for each individual boy to attend school. We currently have 2 boys who are in need of personal sponsor families….email: tarajaproject@gmail.com (11 photos)

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And grateful! 

If you’ve been looking for posts from the trip, please forgive us.  Consistent and reliable internet access in Uganda and Kenya, are SO limited and with ALL that we pack into 15-18 days ~ well, lets just say we always have good intentions!

So over the weeks to come, we’ll begin posting more updates and pictures.

MORE to come!

Susan