Last night I met a dozen young boys, ages 8-11. They were not dissimilar from my own son and my mind quickly formed a connection to them. They came over to the car I was sitting in, knocked on my window, smiled and pulled me out of the vehicle. They enthusiastically talked to me in Swahili and I understood nothing. They huddled around me which felt foreign and fantastic at the same time. I didn’t need language to understand their welcome and hunger for love.
These boys were homeless, living on the streets. They ended up on the streets for various reasons. In some instances, they boys were kicked out of their homes because their family structure had changed.
The new-step mother in the home didn’t approval of the previous mother’s offspring and the boy was forced to leave. Thanks to a international and local charities they now live in ‘The House of Hope’ called Nyumba Ya Tumaini.
Today, I am sitting in on a meeting with Tatua community organizers Rose Chege and Jacob Okumo and founder Natalie Finstad. The essence of Tatua’s mission is to expose the power of ground up solutions. Rose and Jacob are championing a movement to help boys, like those described above, to go to school and obtain an education. Natalie coached them and helped them to develop their plan.
If you could have seen Rose and Jacob you would have been taken back. They tell me that they originally sought out Tatua because they wanted to “create change where they lived and help build their communities”. When they talked about the homeless boys they had passion in their voice a sophisticated understanding of the situation at hand. They also felt a sense of responsibility for solving the problem.
I felt humbled as an outsider watching and listening. My thoughts shifted from ‘How do we help Kenyans?’ to ‘How do you support Kenyans as they help themselves?’.
Here is some of the language they used:
· “If there is a problem in the community, we can fix it.”
· “I mobilize things in my community.”
· “ I have hope”
· “How can I help shift my communities focus from receiving to giving to one another.”
Take away: ****Leaders emerge in every corner of this earth. Rose and Jacob are emerging leaders. They have a fire inside them. It’s the same fire that lives in all of us when we are filled with purpose and meaning.