It was a side trip tacked to the tail of a long, blistering day. We’d been out visiting KKC schools, and I’m sure we looked a fright, sporting grime and sunburn, our hair blown tumbleweed-stiff.
But still the good folks at Oiti Primary welcomed us like dear friends. They’d been writing for months with a candid plea: Please include us in your feeding program. When we finally made it out to their school, they pumped our hands with gusto, radiating nervous hope.
After hours of sun, stepping into the tin-shelled school office brought a murky rush of shadow. The teacher in charge thanked us profusely for visiting, then shared the history and stark need of the kids at the school.
In this arid sweep of the Rift Valley, families tend sheep and goats and skinny cows. When the rains don’t come, life sputters and coughs to a halt—grass shrinks back, livestock dwindle, and money and food vaporize into the searing sky.
The daily reality of many rural Kenyans means tea for breakfast and nothing for supper—lunch is the main and only meal. During lean years, even lunch grows uncertain, and kids will leave school to forage the brush for anything edible. In the States, kids stir up mud pies to play and make their mothers crazy for the mess. In Africa, kids eat the pies to quiet a hunger clawing them inside out.
“Kindly we request your organisation to come for our rescue,” wrote the head teacher at Oiti. The District Education Officer stamped the letter, with an added note: “Highly recommended. Pupils in the school are from very needy families.”
It was easy to confirm the veracity of this need: classrooms bare, save for one short bench. Less than half the students still around, the rest having left at lunch or not showing up at all. One young pupil wore a single shoe, and I wondered if a brother or friend had the mate. I meant to look, but kept getting distracted by roomfuls of shy, hopeful smiles.
As we left Oiti we were already in love with those kiddos, all of us quiet in the car and offering up the same prayer. We don’t have the funding to take on another school, but You do, God. Come through again, please.
And this is where the story gets good.
As of early August, Oiti is sponsored. Come flood or famine, these kids have a sure-thing meal every school day. We’ve seen the miracle enough to guess the details: attendance will hit a near hundred percent. Students will thrive and have energy to spare: energy to remember and analyze and giggle and problem solve and shine.
To our kind and huge-hearted friends: thank you. We’re blown straight over by your care for our students. God is doing some joyful, life-giving things here in the valley through you, and we’re drowning in wonder of the ways He comes for our rescue.