In October, 2016, Amy, Kjell, and Mama C travelled to Kitale, Kenya to visit the Mercy and Caring Childrens home. There we had the opportunity to try out our learning software, the product that eventually became Kasuku Stories, for the very first time.
The day started out fairly gently. Pastor M—, the children’s home manager, drove us into Kitale to buy groceries and supplies. Aside from an emergency car repair (we somehow severed the battery cable) this part of the day was straightforward, even relaxing. A few hundred meters from the home, we stopped to chat with a lady who was walking up the road. M— invited her (and her son) to climb into the back of the truck. “She is like family” explained M—. “She works in town.” It was an uneventful ride into town. We parked near the grocery store, and M— headed off to repair the car. After shopping, we met back up with pastor M— and headed down the road to enjoyed a quick snack at the restaurant he used to manage. We had our first coffee in Kenya (“coffee is for export. Chai is for Kenya”), and chatted about our lives in our respective countries.
After the snack, we got back into the freshly repaired truck and headed back to the Home.
And that’s when the day really began.
It started by meeting the sponsor children. Amy and Mama C both sponsor a child at the home. We have seen them in pictures before, but meeting them in person was on a completely different level. Like, gut-punch emotional level.
We had prepared ourselves (to the degree we could) for the meeting, but sponsoring a child — receiving updates, pictures, and letters — is not the same as meeting a living soul and hearing their stories. It was a wonderful visit, but it was a visit we will have to spend some serious time processing once we get home.
We chatted for an hour, and when we were done, our sponsor children led us out the door us to meet the rest of the kids who live at MCCH.
First, we met the primaries. They greeted us with a song and dance. (Three actually). And then we were introduced. First came Mama C. Being Mama Nancy’s sister (the home’s founder), she was a huge hit.
Next came Amy. She introduced herself to the kids, explained she was Mama C’s daughter, and sat down.
Finally, as it came my turn, Pastor M— leaned over to me and said “you talk for 5 minutes. Tell them what you are doing here with us.”
I’ve been thrown into a lot of unexpected speaking situations, but standing up and facing 40 Swahili-speaking children in East Africa, challenged with the task of explaining why we were there — why we had travelled halfway around the world with a bagful of tablets to visit them, why we had any thought that we were doing something that could actually make a difference in their lives, here in a tiny children’s home in Kenya — this was not a topic or setting that I had any experience for.
Then I realized then that this moment represented everything that we had come to Africa to do. Until this moment, Learn Leap Fly was little more than a notion—a hunch. But in this moment, our project was finally going to become real, and we would finally see where the last 17 months had brought us to.
I pulled out the tablet, and stepped to the center of the room.