Recently, eleven black women affiliated with the InfluenceHers organization led by Brittany Grey and Liz Wright, embarked on an important journey. We traveled to Kenya with a commitment to feed into several communities of black people while focusing on women’s empowerment, education and entrepreneurship. Upon arrival we hit the ground running by first visiting Little Rock Inclusive ECD Learning Center in the city of Nairobi. Little Rock ECD Learning Center is an early developmental school for students ages 0 to 8 years that is hoping to transition into a grade school. It is similar to the American pre-K but on steroids. As a group of educated women, we were unanimously impressed by the work that’s being conducted at the school. For goodness sakes 3-4 years old were learning at a kindergarten to 2nd grade level! Not to mention the school openly services children with disabilities and cognitive difficulties including autism, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and impaired hearing/sight to name a few.
Lily, the founder of the center, works diligently to make sure the kids receive the proper foundation before entering grade school. Her pre-K initiative is top notch compared to other school environments I’ve witnessed here in the States. And the fact that occupational therapy, physical therapy and fine motor skills are incorporated in the treatment of those in need blew my mind. The children were well disciplined and even at the tender age of three have a sense of independence and accountability. We spent our morning and afternoon viewing the site and establishing its needs. We chanted songs, viewed a beautiful theatrical production put on by the drama team–yes, they have special teams– and later fellowshipped with the children by reading with them. Priceless.
It’s difficult to believe that many of these children are living in extreme poverty. In fact, shortly after our tour of the facility, we were able to witness first hand the extreme level of poverty that strikes this area. We walked through Kibera which is the largest urban neighborhood slum in Africa and the third largest slum in the world with well over 500,000 people packed in huts made of cow manure, scraps of metal and hay. We were invited to sit in the homes of a few families that attend Little Rock–to hear their stories and offer support and prayer for them. The families explained to us that having the children pre-K not only gives the parents an opportunity to work while they’re in school, but also sets a foundation for at least a little knowledge and discipline–just in case they are unable to afford additional education.
You see in many parts of the world including Africa education comes at a cost and if your family is unable to afford your schooling, you can’t attend. Can you imagine not having money for food on a daily basis; let alone education. The thought of this is disheartening and it’s every more discouraging to know that many Americans take education for granted. But I find peace in the fact that Lily and her team are committed to this community by creating a foundation for learning and education so that the chances of survival increase. Of course a portion of the donations we receive via fundraising supplied the school with a large amount food, toiletries and supplies. The kids and administrators were super excited and even had small gift bag for each of us. Again, priceless.
The ladder part of our day consisted of viewing the breathtaking landscape of the city as we traveled to the Kazuri Bead Factory, which provides sustainable employment to Kenyan women who are often single mothers. The ladies here hand make the pottery and jewelry and their work is absolutely beautiful. After I respectfully spent all my coins, we headed southwest toward Ngong Hills where we’d spend the next 3 days….Now that’s where things got interesting.