In September this year, Habitat for Humanity Kenya (HFH Kenya) was privileged to host a team of nine volunteers from Habitat for Humanity Paterson. HFH Kenya has enjoyed a close partnership with the Paterson’s for over more than twenty years. The Paterson tithes have been used to construct decent and durable houses for low income earners and persons affected by either man made or natural disasters. Families living in Kenya’s rural areas have moved from grass thatched houses to permanent shelter and many men, women and children no longer live in tents exposed to the hot long days and chilly nights sometimes with heavy rains because the donations from partners such as the Paterson’s has been used to construct permanent durable houses.
The post election violence witnessed in Kenya in late 2007 and early 2008 left many families homeless, property destroyed and thousands dead. The Maai Mahiu camp for internally displaced families came up as a result of the violence. The team opted to build a house at the Maai Mahiu internally displaced persons (IDP) camp located a few kilometres from the capital city of Kenya. The camp is home to 335 families with a population of more than 2,000 people majority of them women and children. The Paterson team built a house for Leah Wairimu, an old grandmother who has lived in a tent for the past four years, Leah lives with her two grandchildren. This was the half a million house constructed by Habitat for Humanity worldwide. During the teams’ visit, the house was dedicated to God and handled over to the family.
The visit by Habitat for Humanity Paterson to Kenya is not only important but symbolic to the Kenya team and beneficiaries. It was a time to share, to learn, listen, interact and build relationships. The people we serve were amazed at the level of commitment and love portrayed to them by the Paterson’s. After going through such a traumatic experience in life, losing one’s possessions, dignity and hope, every human being needs compassion and a shoulder to lean on. The IDP’s and specifically Leah Wairimu’s family found true compassion, empathy and a shoulder to lean on, they also found true friendship. The plague placed in their house is a constant reminder of this great compassion and love, they treasure it dearly.
As a team, we have learnt that there is more to giving than simply handling over a gift. Indeed, it is in giving that we receive. The benefit of giving is experienced in transformation and it is this transformation that we witnessed in the faces of Leah and her two grandchildren. A transformation that gives us great satisfaction in what we do and every day, each one of us experiences this growing desire to help more families move from tents to houses. We can now testify that true satisfaction in life comes from giving and being part of transforming lives. Life begins to make sense when we begin to give not only our money but our time, our laughter, our stories and ourselves.
We are truly grateful to the Paterson team for visiting us, giving us their time, donations, stories, and most important, creating the time to be with us.
Thank you for supporting us and believing in us.