Reflections on Kenya: Deep Love Between Red Rose and LitWorld

Kenya feels a lifetime away. As I sit in my grassy backyard, vast with space and air and growing food, it is difficult for me to remember that just a short time ago I was in Kibera. Kibera, where babies play on banks of sidewalks littered with garbage, where extended families share living space the size of my garden and where it is more common than not to question from where the next meal will come. Here fresh, cold, potable water runs freely from the hose. There the water is too often poison, causing diseases like typhoid and dysentery from the horrifically unsanitary conditions.

As usual, returning to the United States is both a relief and a challenge. While my friends and family understand that the work we do is important, it is difficult for me to share our progress to the extent where they can fully understand. The learning has occurred not only for the teachers and students in Kenya, but also for the LitWorld team. Each visit is an opportunity to witness and participate in the ground-up development of a student-centered, love-inspired learning environment. We are afforded the gift of participating in meaningful transformation.

On this visit I made deep observations and realizations. I observed the love passed between the Red Rose family and the LitWorld team, and I realized the commitment we have to each other. I observed the expansion of Red Rose and Children of Kibera, and I realized the potential of these two great organizations to positively and immensely impact the lives of so many Kiberan youth. I observed the inspiration and empowerment of adolescents, and I realized that giving voice to children will help them seek to solve their own problems and find their own personal justice.

Minutes out of Kenya and already I miss the smoky, dusty air. This place, this work, it embeds itself in your skin, in your mind, in your heart. It leaves you questioning how it is possible that people can be living such different lives just a plane ride away. It demands to know who is protecting the world’s children, who is instilling in them the values of hope and possibility. And it begs for more; we have just only begun.

- Annie