Springforth Kamp Tumaini Recap and 4 take aways so you can live vicariously through the team
Here are a few of the lasting things I hope to carry with me from this learning trip with the Springforth students at Kamp Tumaini in Kenya. As you live vicariously through the Springforth students experience it is my prayer that it also changes how you live and lead.
We are stronger when we overcome all that could divide us and love and learn together.
Stronger together was the theme of Kamp Tumaini 2017. I am so very proud of the team of students that went from Springforth in Atlantic Canada to participate in Kamp Tumaini in Kenya. They displayed lots of courage as they embraced a new culture and embraced the whole experience. It was amazing to see the Kenyan students at the Mivumoni Secondary School and Canadian students embrace each other across gender, religious, economic, ethnic and cultural lines. Each Canadian student quickly got swallowed up by a sea of Kenyan students wanting to connect with them and share together. When you are doing things like making tie dye and laughing together as your hands turn blue you quickly forget all that could divide you. What a beautiful sight!
In Kenya, HIV and AIDs can quickly create a barrier, as social stigma, ignorance and fear surround the infection. One of the main goals of Kamp Tumaini was to reduce this stigma and embrace all students as loved and valued. Where we were, in the coastal community of Kenya's Kwale County, one in twenty people are infected by HIV. This extreme prevalence rate is one of the highest in the world. Among young people, like those in high school, the prevalence rate is even higher (some suggest it is as high as one in five young people). For close to fourteen years Canadian Baptist ministries and their African partner churches have been on the front lines working with people impacted by HIV/AIDs providing support and care. It was amazing to see the Springforth team join in the partnership for a short time. At Kamp you could not tell who was affected by the virus, nor anyone’s background, God quickly made us one big family. Through the Kamp the teens learned more about HIV/AIDs and the challenges that they face, however, they also experienced what it is like for everyone, regardless of their struggle, to be embraced and become “stronger together”.
Take away 1 - What barrier have you let stand in the way of deeper community and new partnerships? How can you overcome this barrier?
I love the approach of the Kenny’s and Canadian Baptist Ministries. I love that it is so clear we are not trying to build our own Kingdom or brand. CBM is not there to build our own church and enculturate people in any way. They are asking the same question we are asking ourselves in Atlantic Canada – how can we join God in what He is already doing here? How can we join God in OUR neighbourhoods? In Kenya that looks like the Guardians of Hope program that supports kids affected by HIV/AIDs by providing school fees, mentors, support… In Kenya that looks like helping Muslim women make beautiful scarves to sell, so they can better support their families. In Kenya that looks like providing a camp for kids affected by HIV/Aids, with their peers in schools, so they can know they are loved and valued. As CBM joins God in Kenya they are not trying to compete with other churches, schools, and ministries – instead they have looked for where God is at work and how they can join what God is doing to reveal Himself and His compassion through partnerships and working together.
What could it mean for you here?
Take away 2 - Ask the same question – where is God already at work around you? What does it look like to join in and help turn up the wattage on the good that needs to happen?
Richness & Poverty
While in Kenya many of our Springforth students rightfully broke down in tears as they recognized the contrast between the village and school we visited and the hotel where we were staying – with toilets, clean water, a buffet of food, Wi-Fi…
The contrast was stark.
Kenya is among the world’s 30 poorest countries, ranking 152 out of 177 countries on the 2006 Human Development Index with 46% of the population living below the poverty line of $1.25 a day.
However, the villages and school we visited didn’t see themselves as poor – they recognized their privilege – having their school fees paid, owning school uniforms, the villagers growing mangos, cashews, bananas, and oranges. We had important conversations with the Springforth students about poverty and about richness. While we saw material poverty, particularly in comparison to our luxurious North American life style, we saw much richness in Kenyan culture in other ways. It was so clear they are rich in community – the village caring for the other community members, extended family members living together and pooling their resources, students at the school rich in relationships and embracing their new Canadian friends… The richness of community in Kenya stands in stark contrast to our often isolation in Canadian society. When our Canadian students asked questions to the Kenyan students like “Don’t you get tired of eating beans and corn every day for a meal?” The Mivumoni students replied with “Oh no, it is such a privilege to be at this excellent school and my family & village has given me a lot to be here. I am so thankful for this opportunity.” What a far cry from our often Canadian response to the privileges we’ve been given!
Take away 3 – Do I live with this same thankfulness for all I’ve been given and entrusted with? Do I recognize the great opportunities and privileges I’ve been given?
Of course, another question follows – Am I being generous with the opportunities and privileges I’ve been given?
Our Canadian students were blown away by the generosity of the Kenyan’s. During our home visits, where the students divided up and visited some of the Guardians of Hope homes in the Mivumoni village, our students were offered oranges, tea, mangos and lots of conversation. One of the guardians came to the school where we were hosting the camp a few days later to bring her visitors fresh cashews she’d harvested for them! Everywhere we went in Kenya, for work or play, Kenyan’s broke out in song and dance to entertain and welcome us...even though they laughed with us at our attempts to join in the dancing. The students at the school repeatedly offered to share their lunch of beans, maize (corn) and tea with us. Although materially they appeared to have very little, they had all they needed, and their generosity was overwhelming to us.
Take away 4 - It begs the question – Am I holding what I’ve been given with open hands, ready to be generous?
How can you join God in what He is doing here and there?
- Did you know it only costs about $300 Canadian dollars to send a Guardians of Hope kid to boarding school for a whole year – including their uniform, room and board? What an important opportunity we could provide for kids and teens in Kenya.
- Did you know $20 sends a kid to a future Kamp Tumaini? You, your youth group, your church could send a lot of kids to Kamp!
- Want to serve and learn more? Arrange to go on a short term mission with a group from your church through our friend at CBM, Adrian Gardner http://www.cbmin.org/get-involved/short-term-mission/
- Open your eyes and ears to where God is at work around you in your neighbourhoods and networks. Start sharing what you have to join God in His mission right around you.
- Will you join God in changing Atlantic Canada (and beyond) one neighbourhood at a time? Learn more about joining what God is doing right here in Atlantic Canada through CBAC and CBACyf
P.S. In the days to come, lots more pictures will be shared by the team on social media and if you have them share with your church/group.