“Welcome, welcome! Please have a seat!” the mother excitedly greeted us as we squeezed through her half-open doorway. If we had opened it any further, it would have fallen off its hinges. I squashed onto a seat next to social worker Margaret, our knees touching the bed in front of us.
Once a year, Margaret and Daniel, our social workers, visit the home of every child in our programmes to conduct a home study. It is a chance to catch up on how the family are doing and see first-hand their home situation. Last week I joined them as they went house to house in Laini Saba.
This tiny home was so dark inside I strained to see the mother’s smiling face just a few feet away from me despite it being a sunny day outside. One of the walls was collapsing and there was some foul smelling water running down one side of the room. This house was abandoned until recently when this family was evicted and their home demolished to make way for the new road passing through Kibera.
The mother was so happy that we had come to visit. She bubbled over with pride for her son who was preparing to sit his KCPE exams at the Fountains of Hope School the next month. In every home we visited, we were invited in with a smile, offered water or soda. Some parents prayed with us. I was struck by how warmly we were welcomed in every home we visited.
Yet as we sat and talked, parents shared about their many struggles. Most parents were casual labourers or ran a small business, some had no work at all. Many families only had one meal a day. The houses varied in condition but they were all just one room and the families have to pay to use toilets nearby.
Even in their poor homes and difficult situations there was so much hope in their voices as they spoke to us. I was reminded that God’s hope shines brighter in every circumstance. There are no hopeless situations, only people who feel hopeless in their situation.
As I came away from a very heavy day, I reflected on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”
What matters is what we have within us that is unseen –hope, strength, faith – and not what we have on the outside that can be seen by people.
Written by Judy Akoth, Turning Point Kenya CEO