Before I elaborate on the two more young souls saved from, if not death, at the very least an oppressive life of nothing but struggle, I would like to elaborate on my last blog post. An amazing project has come to fruition! Last night, the computer, which I am currently typing on, ran out of battery and died. I plugged it into the wall socket, woke up, and the computer had 100% power. However, our entire electrical grid was switched off – this computer, along with the lights, TV, and chargers, and running water system’s pump, was and is being charged by panels that sit atop one of the Arrive structures. Arrive now uses solar energy!
This has been a long, sometimes discouraging, sometimes stressful but ultimately and undeniably worthwhile project. Initiated and directed by volunteer Tim, Arrive has long craved for solar energy. Using solar means our electricity bill will be lower, decreasing Arrive’s monthly operating costs. The panels are environmentally friendly and increase our sustainability. However, in my opinion, the most beneficial aspect of solar energy is the guarantee of power.
Instead of relying on our electricity provider Kenya Power, we now rely on the sun. With Kenya Power, electricity would routinely go out from anywhere from three minutes to three months. Now, we know that our running water system (which relies on electricity) will continue to supply everyone with clean drinking water even if the power goes out! I cannot stress enough how monumental this project is. And the best part? Increasing the system is 100% doable; if we want to enhance the solar power system, we simply add more panels and batteries.
This week, volunteer Matthew returned to the United States. Even with the success of the new pigpen and its muddy inhabitants, Matthew couldn’t leave without seeing the kids try bacon. So he and Tim bought a large, 70 kg (154 lb) hog, slaughtered it, and slow roasted it over a fire for a full day. A chunk of meat was cut off and allocated to be cooked as bacon, but on Saturday night, all of the kids tried slow roasted, pulled pork, complete with homemade barbecue sauce, for the first time. They LOVED it! The paramount aspect is that this pig roast was only a “taste” of more to come…literally! As our pigs in the pen grow bigger and reproduce, pig roasts, which provide the kids with much needed protein and variety in their diet, will become more and more common.
Due to Matthew’s successful fundraising, he was able to rescue and sponsor two additional children who now live at Arrive’s Keumbu Rehema Childrens Home. The first is Maria. This second grader has attended our school for free because she lost both of her parents when only a few years old. Living with her lazy aunt, this young girl had a long list of responsibilities: care for the livestock, cook, clean, dispose of trash, fetch for firewood and water… and attend school. Many days, the former responsibilities prohibited her from the final one. Now, her primary focus is school as she is all moved in at Arrive’s KRCH. She has already connected with the other girls, and the person who I feel most bad for is her aunt. Maria begged her aunt for the opportunity to live with us, and her aunt reluctantly agreed. Now, all of the household chores that her aunt dumped onto Maria so that she, herself, could relax (no, she neither had nor has no other work that prohibited her from helping Maria with the chores) will return back to this irresponsible woman.
The kids at the KRCH truly do live in paradise. Sometimes even I forget this, but nothing reminds me like a trip into Kisii at night. Breaking almost every single one of the American Travel Warning’s instructions, we (Matthew, Tim, and I) ventured into Kisii from 11:00pm to 5:00am. My main objective was to show the volunteers how street children live when Kisii goes to bed. As much as I have grown numb to the intense poverty which I am constantly surrounded by, it is still a shock to see five-year-old children sleeping on boxes as beds, under cars, using plastic bags for blankets.
We must have met at least 100 street children, ranging in age from four to twenty-four. Many followed us around Kisii; all wanted to follow us home. Three children, all about eight years old, were suffering from syphilis. Their story was more horrific than the syphilis (which they weren’t reluctant to show us) itself. An older woman offered them food only if they had sex with her. Starving, they were forced to agree. Apparently, besides the food, she gave them syphilis as well. We made sure they had the correct medicine, but as we found them sleeping in mud under a wooden table with nothing more than a plastic bag as a blanket, they have larger problems which Arrive is trying to solve (like taking them home)!
Luckily, for one child, his problems were solved. At 3:00am, I told all of our following street kids that we would buy for them chai tea. They began clapping and cheering like their favorite football team won the Super Bowl. The fact that a single cup of tea got these kids so excited shows how much so many of us take for granted. After we took all of them to drink chai and eat beef at 3:30am, we were forced to tell them to return to their “homes” (the street). However, we choose a few who showed me distinct characteristics that indicated potential. One of those few was Rubin.
Meet Rubin Nyakundi. He doesn’t know how to spell his name (for all we know, it is Roobyne). He doesn’t know his age (we think he is about ten). He doesn’t know the whereabouts of his parents, or if they are alive. He doesn’t know how long he’s lived in the streets. But he did know that we represented the opportunity of a lifetime for him – an opportunity for a fresh start.
We found Rubin sleeping on the ground with four other kids. Throughout the entire night, I noticed something different about him; indescribable, most likely related to a gut feeling, that made me sure he should come home with us. After getting to know him and his story, we decided that Rubin deserved the opportunity. Since coming home last week, Rubin is constantly doing something he hadn’t done in years – he is smiling. Besides a bed, blankets, three meals a day, opportunity for an education, new brothers and sisters, and the disappearance of the threat of being senselessly beaten by older boys or “community police” on any night on any occasion, he now has hope.
That is was makes Arrive different. We give kids hope. We give the ones who need it most all of the tools to empower himself or herself to make a brighter future. From the “on the ground” successes to our administrative efficiency to our financial transparency, Arrive is truly different. But we need your help. While we are grateful for your ongoing support and for these children, I humbly plead that you please do more. Share this blog post. Show your friends or family our website. Sponsor a child. Host a fundraiser. Do something. I promise that if you were with us in Kisii that night, seeing five year old children shifting through dumpsters for half eaten, ant infested, thrown away food, you would be inspired to make an even greater effort to spread awareness of Arrive’s work and to get Arrive more funding. We need Arrive to reach the next level and rescue more children like Rubin and Maria, and we need your help to do it.
The wise person who said “Be the change you wish to see in the world” was, well, very wise! Arrive started with people like, you, Matthew, and me. Arrive’s ultimate success will rely on these same people. Arrive helps the most impoverished, most underprivileged, most disadvantaged kids and has been nothing short of miraculously successful in transforming their lives. So, on behalf of all the children we saw that night in Kisii and of all the other children we didn’t see in this beautiful country who are living alone, on a street, and without hope, I ask you to step up and take action.
After that night, Matthew’s words were “I am forever changed.” He cried after processing the initial shock of what he was witnessing. Seeing everything first hand cannot be described in a blog or in a photo. But maybe they will be enough to spark an instinctive revelation like “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” ( -Dr. Paul Farmer). If upon reading that eight-year-old orphaned street children who are so malnourished that they are forced to trade sex with an older woman for food resulting in contracting sexual transmitted diseases doesn’t inspire you to take action to help these kids, it challenges my thought that this human instinct does indeed exist in every person on this earth. Help Arrive help more children, and together we will continue to empower the world!