4 airports, 3 planes, and twentysomething hours later, I have arrived safely in Nairobi. I am in a budget hotel in a slightly shaky part of Nairobi, but I feel quite safe as I have stayed in this neighborhood before. It's near the main bus depot, so it's not that different from staying in some hotel near Union Station in LA or Port Authority in NYC. I chose this hotel because it's where Grace said it would be most convenient to meet for breakfast before she hopped on a bus back to Samburu in Northern Kenya. Grace is the founder of SHERP, a home for over 100 handicapped children. I first met Grace a few years ago when I visited SHERP. I was so impressed that GO went on to fund 2 projects there. First we supplied beds to all the children (they had never had proper thick mattresses), and later we made the center wheelchair-accessible, which Grace told me this morning was such a great blessing for so many of the children and the ramps we funded bring them great joy. Grace is so grateful to GO donors for investing in this.
As we dined on watermelon, eggs, chapati, matoke (a potato-tasting banana stew) and sweet chai, Grace told me about the first boy she ever helped. She was only 19, and he was 6. She saw him on the street and started by taking her brother's old shoes and old clothes and bringing them to this blind boy who had little hope for the future. Today, thanks to Grace's ongoing support all these years, he is enrolled in university here in Nairobi. She still supports him, but once he graduates, he will become an English teacher and will be able to support himself. Thanks to Grace he is a productive member of society, which is all she wants for all her children, many of whom were abandoned or rescued from murder attempts (handicaps are considered a curse by many in Samburu, though Grace has been making slow but steady advances to educate Kenyans about this).
I asked Grace how GO can help her again, she will be emailing GO her budget and financial documents tomorrow so we can find a suitable project to fundraise for. The needs of the kids are many. Grace is a true local hero and I'm very happy to know her.
Breakfast wasn't all business. We happened to bring each other gifts. I gave her a silk wallet made by girls at our project partner in Cambodia, and she gave me an African shirt made by girls at SHERP. Both gifts from income-generating projects that help our partners work toward sustainability. I will be quite stylish as I am wearing the beaded shirt around Nairobi today…