The heart of any experience for me is the people. I can spend every day in the slums inhaling red dust and smoke from burning garbage, surrounded by distant shrieks of crying babies, bombarded with smells that no words can describe. But if those same days are spent with people as incredible as these, somehow all the other things cease to matter.

I want to introduce you to the family of ZanaAfrica. It has only been a short month since I’ve come to work with them but after dozens of cups of chai, countless matatu rides and miles of walking through the labyrinth trails of Kibera, I have developed such a deep love and respect for these courageous people.

ZanaA’s heart is to break the cycle of injustice from within. Instead of inserting naïve white people into the 50 schools where ZanaA holds Empowerment Groups, its founder Megan White employs young men and women who are living in Kibera.

Most of them have just finished secondary school and are working with ZanaA for the gap year before they begin college. It’s a critical time where an overwhelming majority of youth end up getting lost in drugs and alcohol.

Instead, these youth spend their days pouring into the young people of their community. They facilitate discussions about drugs, alcohol, sexuality, and peer pressure. They offer real solutions in overcoming these issues. They speak into 1000 kids’ lives every week.

Each one stands as a living testament that there is hope. They walk into classes of kids who don’t believe there is anything more than the life they’ve known- and then they see young men and women from the slums who have jobs. They have dreams. They are using their lives to inspire and build up and pour out into people.

Can you just think about the ripple effect this is having?

I wish I could set you up on a coffee date with each one of these incredible people. I wish you could hear the stories of the pain they’ve persevered through. I wish you could share in their contagious laughter. I wish you could shadow them for a day and see the relationships they’ve built in these classes. I wish you could see the respect they elicit from these kids that understand all too well where they’ve come from, and just what a miracle it is that they are where they are today.

For now, all I can give you is a picture, and this tiny taste of their big big hearts. I asked them why they came to work for ZanaA and I want to let them tell you in their own words…

————

amos

AMOS

As first I thought I had come to ZanaA just to work and get money, but later I realized that my coming to ZanaA was more than money and that it was one of my childhood dreams come to pass. At my early years I wished that one day I will be able to reach to my community and especially the girl child, who I felt was much abused and seen as an object of sex or punching bags for the violent men. I now feel attached and obligated to help young boys and girls. I want to do law which will enable me to represent the girl child in court and fight for her rights.

————

faith

FAITH

My best reason for joining ZanaA is getting an opportunity to reach to other needy children, to give them hope and encouragement and seeing smiles on their faces. Thinking that I was there once and to see how far I have gone. I have faith in them and us that will help them get as far as they want to go with their goals.

————

maureen

MAUREEN

Raised by a single mother and having passed through hard times with my mother and siblings I took this chance to help raise my younger siblings. Every time I get money from ZanaA I help my family by buying what is not at home. Through ZanaA I have been able to take my twin brothers to Secondary School.

————

jacqueline

JACQUELINE

I joined ZanaA because within me I have always had the passion to help out children who are out there. Because when I was in high school I used to admire those people who used to come and guide us. And I asked God I wish one day I could talk that to students out there. And I think God has answered my prayer. I work for Zana to touch a child’s heart.

————

moses

MOSES

My reason for joining ZanaA was since my childhood and due to the way I have been brought up as parentless child. I have the passion and desire to work with children of the same caliber as me and see them change and gain hope that the future holds great things for them. I sincerely enjoy my time with kids, sharing my life experiences with them, and theirs. My heart feels more at peace when I make kids view life positively and know that they can achieve their beautiful set goals.

————

rosa

ROSA

I did not want to stay at home and have to ask my family for small things and pocket money. I wanted the freedom to leave them without asking for bus fare and lunch. I wanted to be busy before joining campus and I knew that my computer skills would improve over time.

————

kajani

KAJANI

Why I joined ZanaA is coz it targets young people and working with this kind of people has been my passion. This has been directly influenced by the type of life challenges that these young people are facing and I passed through the same experiences. These challenges that I underwent made me want to give back.

————

grace

GRACE

I am at ZanaA so that I can reach more girls / women group who are in need of sanitary pads and they don’t know where they can get access to pads. Also to empower girls and women groups not to be dependent but to use the resources around them so that they can earn a living. Also my passion is to help girls to be role models in their community. Also to help them achieve their goals. Also to help them to get where they want to be.

————

These are the people I have come to know and love in this past four weeks. When these people talk about God’s faithfulness, it is no Sunday school cliché. God’s protection and provision is something they have prayed for in their most desperate moments and it is something that they have experienced in ways that have changed their life in the most tangible ways.

Once again, they are calling on God’s provision as currently ZanaA is in desperate need of funds. It takes a mere 86 dollars to sponsor one of these junior field officers for a month and keep the ripple effect going.

These eight people are giving their lives to invest in others.

Would you consider investing in them?

Enjoy this post? Get future updates sent to you for free! Join by email or RSS

Next Steps
    • Visit Zana Africa's website to read more about their vision for change!
    • Support Zana Africa financially with as little as $8! Check out their donate page for more info.
    • Choose one of the Junior Field Officers above and pray for them every day!
    • Send one (or all!) of the Junior Field Officers an encouraging letter or email! Click here for more information.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Christine Sullivan was a summer intern with World Next Door in 2009. She graduated in 2009 from Taylor University with a bachelor's degree in Studio Arts. She loves finding beauty in the unseen and overlooked and is passionate about bringing stories of injustice to light.

More posts by Follow Christine on Twitter


Comments

  1. Jane VanOsdol said... 

    Reply

    July 14th, 2009 at 9:12 pm  

    Christine,

    I so enjoyed your story. Thank you for bringing us a piece of life in Kibera. I am inspired by the courage of these young people who are reaching out to the younger children around them. I pray that God will indeed break the destructive cycles in the lives of the youth in Kibera. We can already see evidence of it in the lives of the ZanaA workers.

    Thank you for sharing their lives with us in such an eloquent way.

  2. Amy Sorrells said... 

    Reply

    July 15th, 2009 at 9:42 am  

    Thank you for all the tender and hopeful information in this post, Christine. This is indeed the heart of what you are doing. I can’t help but be smitten with Amos–could be the name but the fact he wants to help little girls makes my heart melt all over the place. Let them know there’s an American/Indiana girl hugging each of them (and you) through prayer!

  3. Sarah Jamieson said... 

    Reply

    July 20th, 2009 at 10:58 am  

    Hi Christine,
    I just wanted to comment on your beautiful post. I spent a year working in Nairobi, with Homeless Children International-kenya, the organization that Megan worked for as well. It brings tears to my eyes to see the beautiful faces of so many of the “kids” I worked with–Faith, Amos, Moses, Maureen, Kajani, and Rosa…to see the sparkle in their eyes and their evident desire to make a difference in the lives of kids that were “like them” is an incredible gift. Wow. So many thoughts, but I just want to say thank you, and please tell them that I’m SO proud of them. I still love them deeply.

Leave a Reply