Posts Tagged ‘Kenya’

Africa Journal #3, Immersion

January 4, 2012


We are a group of just 10, and have spent our 2nd day today working at Fafu, a school in Kibera begun by a Kenyan man named Simeon, a man of clear heart and vision who came to Kibera to help its children to Face the Future; Fafu is short for those words. Living in conditions of unimaginable human poverty – unimaginable to me even as I walk through the slum, smell, greet, and interact – Simeon sees a way to create possibility through education, community and love. He and every single human there, 240 children enrolled, know the harshest facts of life and human nature, all the way to the bone.

Three years ago this tiny plot of dirt and filth was empty. Simeon’s vision and passion joined with Carter Via’s ability to mobilize resources and help have brought about this throbbing little wood and tin edifice where the children come together to find hope. We visitors are offering what we have. Some rough but sturdy benches are being built; blank, dirty walls are being covered with paintings; art projects are underway.

directing a play

One man with us is a theatre director and producer who just wrapped up a show on the West End in London. Today he is directing several of the Fafu young people in a play he has modified to 12 pages. After 3 days of rehearsal, we will see it. Some of the older children are being interviewed by our young members so that they can have an opportunity to tell their stories, present to us their dearest passions, describe unique talents and visions for their future. A young fellow at the school named Rogers has found that he can truly dance. We had a preview of his performance today and will see the full one tomorrow when the borrowed (pirated? electricity from a lot nearby will hopefully successfully pipe in the music. Rogers face is aglow with the genuine admiration and attention he is receiving. I worked in a private room with children one-on-one, along with a compassionate and gifted translator, to help listen to the suffering in the private psyches of several of the children whose difficulties are affecting their ability to engage with the work and the people at school. They have an opportunity to say in privacy what ails their souls, to verbalize and be listened to. My hope is to give them a model for the idea that they don’t have to suffer alone and in silence. The psyche itself requires and deserves expression in such ways, and can find it.

mural painting

We are swimming in a sea of love and chaos. In our debriefings tonight, a number of us realized all that most of the kids want really is a way to find someone to hold them and touch them. While Zoe paints the mural, 10 kids are attached somewhere to her body painting with her, the need for the touch and connection much more primary than the need to paint. Alexa found that in her art project work too. In my breaks I fixed the strap on a little girls back pack, and before I knew it one after another were pressing into my body wanting their straps fixed too. Back strap fixing is very important, but the experience of crushing their little bodies into mine while we fixed it was more essential. The tiniest ones just wanted to put their head on my breast and shoulder. Ok with me, sweet hugging is heaven.

Our director was laughing saying his job today was like herding cats, but it was happening. i feel right now like a cat herder of my mind. The immensity of this immersion is unsayable. The mystery of what pulls us all together for this moment in time, what the experience reflects to each of us – there is magic. Unrevealed but very apparent magic. Mystery, love, beauty, pain.


Just a blast here from the chaos. Look at the photos I attach through worm holes and see what you see. It’s so much mystery.


View from classroom, Kibera