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Returning to Kenya

Published: Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 2:35 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 2:42 p.m. CDT
(Photo contributed)
Melissa Zehr (center) has served in Kenya for the past year and looks to return for another six months.

A year ago, I began my adventure in Kenya with a service program through Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, Pa. I endured a rich but challenging time in Kenya for 11 months.

During my first few months there, I felt isolated and often wondered about my purpose in this country. My job assignment was to help teach math and science, but I felt challenged and struggled to teach the students who stared at me and mimicked me.

But, I learned to adjust and connect with the Kenyan people. I became friends with my coworkers and enjoyed interacting with conversations in their main language, Swahili. Gradually, I fell in love with this country and my students. I learned many parts of the Kenyan culture, from the relaxed schedule to the relationship-oriented mindset of the people. I mastered the transportation system and even learned how to cook Kenyan meals. Toward the end of this experience, I volunteered at Mukuru Menno Academy two days a week and Eastleigh Fellowship Centre, starting peace clubs at different schools nearby and working with neighborhood youth groups of Somali Refugees. 

I made the decision to return for six months and plan to go with a different program. In the fall, I will return to Nairobi, Kenya, and continue to work at Eastleigh Fellowship Centre, teaching English as a second language and coaching soccer and volleyball. Another role will be to resume leadership with peace clubs in nearby schools. This experience will have a different dynamic than my last one because Somali refugees live in this area, and I am excited to work with these people.

As I prepare to enter this service assignment, I would like to ask for help from the community because I can only go to Kenya as soon as I raise my support. I appreciate your support, both spiritually and financially, as well as donations of sports balls, jerseys and used tennis shoes that are in good condition. For this mission, I need to cover $13,000 in costs related to the trip. If you feel led to give, make checks payable to Willow Springs Mennonite Church with EMM GO!, in the memo line. Please send your gifts or donations to: Willow Springs Mennonite Church, P.O. Box 386, Tiskilwa, IL 61368.

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