The dedication of the Project 24 center at Nyambiri was a wonderful event by all accounts. The turnout was great and as the old saw goes, “a good time was had by all”. The Bishop was there and wearing his high liturgical accouterments and the dedication of the new center was officially announced and completed. I am struck by the two little ones on the lower left sharing the chair and holding their water bottles. In my first trip to Africa we were warned that approaching children was a bad idea because the rumor had been spread that white people came and tried to kidnap children. Although tourist traffic was low after the terrorist attacks in Nairobi the rumor was out there. Since my first trip the sickness of sex trafficking and other assorted perversions is on the rise and the need for security at centers has gathered importance. My impression of the children was a stunned acknowledgment of their inward composure and appreciation of their attention. I was with a compound guard who was giving us instructions on how to shoot his primitive bow and arrow and he told his son to sit in the shade of a banyan tree and wait. The boy of about 4 sat in the same spot for about an hour, never moving, and calmly watched as we adults acted like 4 year old’s. He didn’t call out, cry or make a scene, he simply sat and watched us play and I am sure he wanted in on the action but he had been told to stay. I remarked that the children that I knew from back home would have lasted a few minutes and then through crying tantrums or just plain bad manners would have made sure that everyone in the compound knew that everything was about them. I’m sure children in Kenya have their moments but I never saw and tantrums, interruptions of conversations or general playground nonsense. Games are unsupervised and controlled by children and their is very little screaming about something being “unfair”.
There is a lot of social justice talk about cultural appropriation and if it were possible to appropriate something from that culture it would be those childish attitudes. I am sure there are cut ups and hoodlums but I only encountered that in the “street boys” of the larger cities. My deepest impression of the children that Project 24 is meant to assist is not only a love of learning but a love of the one that learn about and that is Jesus. They’re simple witness to Jesus is a smile and a personal devotional expression of His love to them. Halting and self conscious at times it still resonates.
God has ordained praise to come from children. Matthew 21 –
But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”