As my driver pulled onto the road leading up to Rapha Community Center, I was eager to finally reach my destination. It takes a long time to get there, and every year it feels a little bit longer. Regardless it’s always exciting to see the improvements in person. I saw changes as soon as we drove through the gate. The trees along our drive have grown tall, and so has our maize crop. I had heard from a number of people that it had been raining heavily, and I could see that our crops had benefited. I said a prayer of thanksgiving for this, considering our crop yield the past two years has suffered because of drought. We try to grow as much food as we can for our children including beans, potatoes, peas, kale, spinach and onions. In a good year we can yield 4-5 months worth of maize which saves about $2,000. Rain can be inconvenient, but it’s a blessing to our community.
Then I saw the secondary school. Two new classrooms had been constructed, and the office project was complete. I was impressed. My first stop was to the Principal’s office to reconnect with Tabitha, the director of Rapha Community Center. We communicate via phone and email, but it’s always important for us to sit together when I first arrive so we can discuss what’s happened over the past year. We both have important jobs that can’t be accomplished autonomously. We’re a team, and it’s very important for us to take advantage of the time we have together while I’m in Kenya.
Tabitha always amazes me with her positive attitude, her faithfulness and her perseverance. She has experienced countless personal struggles, and we have faced many challenges together, but through it all she has consistently acted with grace and kindness. She is a great leader, and I know that when I’m in the USA, she and the Rapha team will take the initiative to improve what they can, with the money that HEAL is able to send. I know this because every time I visit, I see growth, I see improvements and I see the joy on the faces of the children at Rapha.
This visit proved to be as rewarding as previous visits, greeted as I was by so many genuine and grateful smiles. The students were on a mid-afternoon break when I first arrived, so I had a chance to greet everyone. My first thought was, “Wow, we have a lot of students. This is amazing!” and my second thought was, “How am I going to learn all their names?” While I know all the children from our children’s home, the school is also open to the community, and there were many new faces as well as some that looked familiar but whose names I could not recall. I clearly had some studying to do, since I knew they would quiz me soon!
The biggest change I saw was in the children whom I have come to know well over the past few years. Many of them have grown taller than I. I know it’s not very difficult considering my height, but there was one in particular who surprised me. David Kiarie, one of our most promising boys in class 8, has grown surprisingly tall. I had to look up at him when he greeted me, and when he opened his mouth, I couldn’t believe how much his voice had changed. His physical appearance had matured, but I also learned that he is excelling in school and is the president of the student government in school. I suppose you could say that I am a “proud mum” because of David and all of our children who are thriving. The journey may have been long, but it was worth every minute, just to see the positive changes at Rapha Community Center.