I’ve been in Kenya for a little while now, almost 7 years. I love this country. I do. I love the fresh air and the rolling hills of Kisii where I live. I love Kenyan culture and all of the different communities. I love the people. And… I’m even starting to dig the music.
However, there’s one thing that I’ve never gotten used to and it’s like nails on a chalkboard whenever I hear it. The word “mzungu”. I hate it. Mzungu most commonly translated means “white person”. Kids are constantly yelling it. To this day I can’t walk around my own village without kids running behind me yelling it repeatedly.
On one hand it has encouraged me to go out and build relationships. This way they know my name and if they have to yell at least it’s “Matthew!” and well, that makes me feel special. I’ll stop and high-five that.
I’ll never forget a few weeks ago when we had just received a few new kids into the children’s home. I was walking up to the dining hall and a lot of our kids were out hanging around and one of the new kids shouts over at me “mzungu!” and all of the kids just let out this huge gasp as it fell awkwardly silent.
One of the kids whispers “oh no…” while another one corrects her quickly, “his name is Matt.” I couldn’t help but laugh. They knew me so well. I actually felt so loved and honored in this moment.
Another thing kids like to say to white folks is “give me sweet!” over and over again. They’ll chase your car yelling it for a mile sometime. I just want to know who the white guy is driving around Kenya throwing candy out of his car. Whoever you are, stop it. Stop it right now.
All this to say things are shifting in my village. Kids who had once yelled “mzungu” or “give me sweet” or “how are you! I am fine.” are asking a new question. They’re coming up and saying “Can you take me to school?” They’re coming over on the nights and weekends and asking for a book.
And to be honest, I have kids telling me made up stories about how they’re orphans because maybe then I’ll understand how bad they want to learn.
Just think about that for a minute… one could jump quick and judge the lie, or you can pause and look at their options.
Of course this opens a door for me to talk to these kids about character. And I love that. But these kids have the option to play all day if they want… I feel that I would have been all over that. But they want to learn.
Thankfully at Oasis for Orphans we offer programs for both orphaned children and kids in vulnerable situations. It’s called Guardian Care. Guardian Care allows vulnerable and orphaned children to live at home with their guardian while we provide them with a quality education, counseling, and a home-cooked meal at our school.
But we can’t do this without people like you who can make it happen.
So there’s my friend Patrick. He is around 12 years old and stands about 3 feet tall with cowboy boots on. He comes over to my house every day. This kid’s life is far and I mean far from easy. But he’s got the biggest smile on his face EVERY single day. Why? A month ago he came up to me and said “I want to go to your school. I know it’s my only chance to do something with my life and I know I can’t become a lawyer out there.”
You know what I said… “Come on Patrick… just don’t call me mzungu.”
We have 23 kids in our Guardian Care Program at The Valley right now, Patrick included. Each are in need of only $50/month to cover their educational needs, a few meals a day, tutoring and mentorship throughout the week. Will you partner with us through sponsorship and give these kids the opportunity to dream and become – a lawyer, doctor, teacher, engineer, or whatever else makes their heart skip a beat. I’d love to see these 23 kids sponsored this month. Message me to learn more or click here to get started.