As I begin to explore Kenya for the third time, I am constantly reminded that the challenges facing the country are ceaselessly complex and copious. Millions are starving as the country suffers through a severe drought, formal unemployment is climbing near 70%, justice has yet to be delivered from the post election violence, and disease continues to erode the health of the people.
It's easy to imagine how one might quickly become overwhelmed, and yet, while the trials are many, hope and opportunity continue to breath. In fact, being in Kenya reminds me, more profoundly than ever, of the words from Dr. King, in his never forgotten Mountaintop address:
The world is all mess up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land: confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.
He goes on to say:
I see God working in this period in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding. Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa or Nairobi, Kenya… the cry is always the same: "We want to be free."
This cry is now a cry for economic freedom. A cry for empowerment; for sustainability; for opportunity; for dignity, not dependence; for a hand up not a handout*. And the cry is loud.
My prayer is that during my time in Kenya, the stars will begin to shine bright enough to blind out the darkness and the cry for economic freedom will begin to soften.
*Vision statements from the two NGOs that I plan to support.
This picture -- taken at a concert at the Nairobi Nat'l Museum -- reminds me of what freedom can feel like: a little girl dancing carelessly in her yellow dress and brightly painted face to perfect percussions.