As our group walked through the Mathare slum, led by Mary and Vickie, we were speechless by much of what we saw. It was a world we could never have imagined. There was garbage everywhere and filthy water running in streams along most of the trails between the buildings. The smell was indescribable, a mixture of rotting food, unwashed bodies, mud and some other odor I just can’t place.
Most of the structures were so close together that the sun light didn’t reach us. Suddenly though we walked into a large open courtyard. It was next to a school and the children were outside on recess. There was no playground equipment and nothing much else for the children to do, except run around, chasing each other and laughing.
Their laughter seemed out of place, but the sound rose above the poverty and decay. They were just kids who didn’t know any better. They didn’t know there was a whole different world out there, a place where the sun did shine and the grass was green, where clean water was plentiful and three meals a day was the norm.
And then they saw us.
If we thought little Sondra was obsessed with us, these school children in their matching brown uniforms were just plain fascinated by these pale foreigners. Their voices sang out a chorus of “muzungu, muzungu, muzungu”. They stretched their little hands into the air, their fingers raised in peace signs. They reached out to us, just wanting to touch us and be touched by a muzungu. Simply the laying on of our hands made them feel blessed. I said a silent prayer asking that God be with each of them. And I continue to pray for them daily.