After traveling to Africa with World Orphans this summer, Alisha Bowker said she will be changed forever. "There are a number of stories I could share, each that had an impact on our team and myself, but a specific day will easily stay with me for the rest of my life," she said.
During the 11-day trip, the group visited children's homes in both Ethiopia and Kenya, but the day that deeply affected Alisha was when the group walked the streets of the the Mathare Slums in Kenya.
"Being my first trip I did not really know what to expect, aside from the simple fact that this is one of the largest slums in Kenya-home to well over 500,000 people. As we began our journey deep into the slums I was met with speechlessness," Alisha wrote after the trip. "I cannot even begin to describe to you the horrific conditions these individuals are living in."
Alisha described the living conditions for men, women and especially children as "a place so dirty, crowded, unsanitary, chaotic and forgotten that no human should ever have to call that home and yet hundreds of thousands do."
While visiting the slum, the group met with four families.
"I had the privilege to sit in peoples homes and listen to them tell their stories, I witnessed families being torn apart by disease and realized how important good health is to the survival of a family in the slums. I heard a woman tell of her difficult decision each month to choose between paying rent to keep a roof over her family's head, or paying the school fees in order to invest in her children’s futures," wrote Alisha.
"As we walked to each new home the local children would run up chanting their hellos and hoping for a smile, a photo or simply a touch. It took all that I had to not break down into tears; there was such innocence in the simplicity of their requests."
But in the midst of the devastation, Alisha still saw hope. Through World Orphans, the local church is able minister to families in the slums by helping them care for the children they have. And many children in the Fountain of Life children's home in Nairobi, Kenya are rescued directly from the slums.
Other programs, like vocational training, give teenagers and adults the opportunity to rise out of their circumstances and care for their families.
"We then headed back to the church and had the opportunity to speak to a group of teenage mothers who are part of a new ministry the church is starting. The women will be learning skills in jewelry making and sewing, with the intent to sell their products to gain financial support and stability," Alisha wrote.
"I was made aware that for many of these women this new ministry is their second chance…Their moment to get back on their feet despite past mistakes that left them in such a low and forgotten places."
The vocational training program in Nairobi and the Fountain of Life children's home are only two outreach projects out of hundreds around the globe that World Orphans has made possible.