Soweto Slums, Kenya
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Belinda is 5 years old and enrolled in the nursery school at New Hope Education Centre in the Soweto slums in Kenya. Please Pass the Bread sponsors the meal program to feed the children in the school.
Most travel advisories will warn of the dangers of going it alone in Soweto when visiting. Crime is high and the vulnerable are easy targets. Like Belinda, the young children living in these slums have no choice but to survive one day at a time, hoping the next day will bring something better.
Belinda’s mother was only 17 years old when she gave birth to her, and being born out of wedlock she has no father. A year later her mother died from HIV Aids, months after giving birth to another child. Belinda’s brother only lived for 5 months and then he died of malnutrition accompanied by measles.
Belinda lives with her grandmother and her uncle in a one-room shanty with no water or electricity. Belinda’s grandmother washes clothes everyday for a living where she earns approximately $24 US (Kshs. 2000) a month. Her grandmother is barely able to pay the rent with the money she earns every month. And more unfortunate yet, she is unable to buy food to put on the table most days.
We thank God Belinda was tested last year and was found HIV negative. However Belinda’s grandmother suffers from the diseases, which killed Belinda’s grandfather and her daughter (Belinda’s mother). She is on anti viral medicine, but her biggest challenge right now is to put food on the table.
In addition to being surrounded by personal tragedy, Belinda faces many dangers as part of every day life. She is at risk of encounters with child offenders, especially on her way to and from school. When she goes home from school she finds nobody waiting and she is alone. Her grandmother is always out looking for casual jobs to try and generate an income and her uncle, still very young, is in high school.
Every day Belinda wakes up at 6am and gets ready for school. She doesn’t have breakfast at home since there is nothing in the house to eat. It is at school, mid morning, where she eats her first meal of the day. At lunchtime she receives another meal, and most times lunch will be her last meal of the day. Through the support of Please Pass the Bread and the meal program, Belinda is assured at least 2 meals a day, “which is vital to her well being.”
Belinda’s enrollment in The New Hope Centre and the PPTB program is giving her a good education, she is learning about Jesus and good Christian values, and is getting the proper childcare she needs.
During the Bible studies, Belinda has learned that God loves and cares for all children. “I know Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins”. And if you ask her, she’ll recite her favorite verse, Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” She has learned to rejoice even in tough and difficult situations in her very young life. How precious.
What makes Belinda happy? “I am happy when at school and playing with my friends. I know my life is getting better because I get to go to school.”
Thankfully, children like Belinda are experiencing something better. They are given a “future and a hope…” through the committed care provided by the team at New Hope Education Centre – as it shines through the love of Jesus from each of their hearts.