Be a Blessing

It’s a long story, but worth the read!

Have you ever seen something that was terribly wrong, but yet you didn’t know how to help?  The problem is so big, so large, so pervasive that it makes you feel small and unable to change things?  This has happened to me, and for a long time I felt unable to change the situation.

I had the privilege to visit Kenya on two occasions.  I went with the purpose to help an orphanage.  We’ve all seen the stories – kids with no shoes and barely enough clothes, entire villages without running water or electricity.  Children that are orphaned due to circumstances entirely beyond their own control.  So I went to help; but I came back with more blessings than I ever gave.  Some of you have had the same privilege in a different part of the globe, and you know what I’m saying.

The people of Kenya are some of the nicest and most genuine people that I have ever met.  I have worked along side them, eaten with them, laughed with them, danced with them, and prayed with them.  But their prayers are different from our prayers.  We seem to mostly pray for things, for comfort, for blessings.  My Kenyan friends pray for help; they pray that God will help them continue.  They pray that they will be a blessing.

During my most recent visit, our group spent a large amount of time away from the orphanage and instead we visited the community at large.  Some of my favorite times were in the schools.  Without being there, it is hard to explain to you just HOW MANY children there are.  I explain it often as like ants – the children are just EVERYWHERE.  And nowhere is this more evident than in the schools.  The children are so numerous that it is hard to comprehend how such a little village can have so many children.

The children in this picture are both literally and socially outside the fence. Public schools in Kenya are supposed to be free and sponsored by the government.  This might be true in the larger cities.  But in our village, this was not true.  Not only do the children have to wear uniforms, but the families must pay the school so that teachers can be paid.  If your family cannot pay, your child does not attend school.  And therefore these children are outside the fence.  It is sad.

Education is an essential ingredient in raising the standard of living among my friends in Kenya, just exactly like it is part of the solution here at home.  Farming runs in my family, so I understand the hardships that my Kenyan friends endure.  And many people choose to stay in the village and farm for a living.  But in order to make it outside the village, education is essential.  So it seems only logical to help my friends to help themselves with their education.

And let me emphasize something to you – the children that do attend school are there to learn!  Some of the higher grade students were studying and answering questions that our high school students had trouble completing!  And they sit at desks, crammed three four or five students to a desk, for eight hours per day!  And they learn!

Once I returned to the United States, it was easy to slip back into my comfortable world, my routine, surrounded by my family and my comfortable surroundings.  And there is nothing wrong with those things.  But I do believe it is wrong for me to forget my friends on the other side of the globe.   And this brings me back to my first question.  How do you help a situation that is so large, so wide spread that it seems to never end?  I mean, really, what can one guy do?

The answer is simple – it’s not a one-guy solution!

Have you ever had an image or a dream that you couldn’t get out of your head?  A good friend of mine once said, “never give up on a dream that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”  Personally, I can’t remove the mental picture of kindergarten students sitting on a hard dirt floor for eight hours per day.  I can’t forget the scene where five beautiful young ladies, probably sixth grade, sat as proud as they could be in the desk (one desk) at the head of the class.

The solution is simple.  These kids need desks.  Desks to help them learn so they can dig, literally dig, their way out of poverty.

And so the “Be a Blessing” campaign was born.  For each bathroom remodeling job completed in middle Tennessee by Re-Bath, we will have a desk made for one of my friends in Kenya.

1) This effort does not create a system where the Kenyan people rely on us for support.  We are not sending them food or clothes.  These things are important.  But our support is providing a long lasting item that  allows for Kenya students to better themselves.

2) This effort is easy to grow or shrink as needed.  For each remodeling job that Re-Bath performs in middle Tennessee, a desk is made and given to a Kenyan classroom.

3) The effort helps more than just the students that will sit in the desk.  Instead of purchasing desks here and sending them to Kenya (which would be insanely expensive), this effort helps three different groups of people.  First, it helps the farmer that grows the wood needed to make the desk.  Second, it helps the trade school student that is learning the valuable skill of woodworking.  And third, it helps the students that will sit in the desk, and each student after that.

Due to how we have organized this, all the money we send to Kenya is used to make and transport the desks.  There are no “administrative costs”.  If you choose to give toward this effort, that would be great.  Your money will be well spent. But the reason for this article is to give you just an idea of who we are, what we believe to be important, and just how we intend to help.  Thanks for reading.

– Rob Mathias