Benson wakes up at 6:00 a.m. every Saturday excited that he will see his friends and learn Bible lessons. On this particular Saturday, the children at his child development center learn a life-lesson, and child development director, Mercy, takes them through the devotion.
It’s chilly and the teacher starts the lesson. As drum beats fill the air, children fill with excitement — the right mood for a story.
Teacher Mercy starts,
“Once upon a time there were two buckets that hung by the Simenya Well. They kept on being drawn by the residents of Simenya. One late afternoon, tired with the day’s work, they took time to rest and spoke to each other.”
At this point Teacher Mercy coughs and holds two buckets as visual aid while pointing them to the children.
In the background, one hears a symphony of coughs and sneezes from the children because of the weather. Her “classroom” is outside.
“One of the buckets was always grumbling. It never looked at life cheerfully. On this particular day, as it rested outside the well it said to the other bucket, ‘I am tired of the life we lead. However full we are when we are drawn up out of the well, we are sent back empty again. This makes me disappointed and dissatisfied.’
The second bucket looked at life differently. It did not grumble because it looked at the positive side of life. It said, ‘That’s true, but I always look at it this way — that however empty we are when we are set down, we are always full when draw up.’”
Teacher Mercy declares the end of the story, looks at the children, sees the cloudy skies, and whispers a prayer to God, “Please Lord, help us build classrooms to house these children.”
For the last three years, trees randomly placed in the Simenya Child Development Center church compound have been serving as “classrooms” for the children. Unfortunately the days can be nightmares for some of the children in the center, especially when they come to the wall-less classrooms, during extreme weather conditions.
According to Mercy,
“The long rainy seasons fall in March to May, while the short rainy seasons are during the months of August to September and sometimes trickle into October.
These are dreaded months by children, teachers and parents alike. One is likely to meet children shivering in the chilly days with hands tightly clasped across their chest, to preserve the little body temperature.
It is during this period, we have seen children affected by periodic fever. These are the times when we see children walk out of class or even stay away from the classes, with parents citing fear of fever attack.”
During the hot season months, we have not been spared either. This area has characteristic dry spells, which leaves the indigenous trees without leaves. Scorching sunbeams through the sketchy branches penetrate the out-door classes. Because of this, Simenya Child Development Center has made numerous efforts to address this immense challenge.
The community is aware that infrastructural development is their responsibility; however, with the ravaging rate of poverty in this community and high cost of living, they are not able to save money for this much-needed infrastructure.
The host church organized a community fundraiser (harambee), and approximately $400 was raised, which was used toward the acquisition of corrugated iron sheets as roofing materials for a semi-permanent make-shift structure built with trees.
In July 2008, God remembered Simenya Child Development Center in the form of a surprise gift for the center. It came from John, Benson’s sponsor, and it came at an opportune time.
According to Mercy,
“The contribution enabled us to come up with with capacity for 70 children. Though a two-roomed class, the construction has been made in a way that the middle partition can be opened up and the building turned to a hall for church or student center events and functions. Even the church partner hosts a few meetings in this new facility, courtesy of John of the UK.”
Benson is proud of his sponsor, who not only touched his life, but those of 70 children. However, some 230 others still learn in a nearby church hall, while others learn in the child development center director’s office. And more are still under the trees in the church compound until classes are built.
Benson is now a very happy boy. He is glad for the program he attends because he has access to his basic necessities, including a new classroom. He says that he cannot attribute any of this to anyone but to God. Despite being an orphan, Benson is looking at the brighter side of life, he hopes to pursue a good education and he confesses,
“God has given me a friend (his sponsor) who will take me to school until I become a teacher which is my dream career. I now believe Jeremiah 29:11. God indeed knows the plans he has for me to give me peace and an expected end. Even when society thought I was nothing, God and my sponsor saw me as someone.”