Kenya (MNN) – When events like Typhoon Haiyan occur, the devastation spreads beyond the original point of impact.
Relief efforts in these cases are diverted from the daily ministries to provide for those people in more destitute situations. This is the case for Bright Hope International, specifically with their work in Kenya.
CH Dyer of Bright Hope reports that World Food Program covers about half of their food costs yearly for their work in the slum community of Mathare Valley.
“Over the last few years, we’ve seen the World Food Program certainly decrease, actually stop in some areas of Nairobi from providing food. We get about half of our food needs from the World Food Program.”
As resources become strained, Bright Hope knows that their program may eventually be cut from World Food Program’s funding. Changes are being made to keep their program moving even if this does happen. However, some of the cutbacks are detrimental to the work they are doing there.
Their work, providing education through the local church, is successful largely due to the fact that they are able to provide food for starving children. Often the kids show up because they know there will be food.
Dyer gives the example of a woman named Grace who lives in Mathare Valley. She lost her husband and is trying to provide for her young children. “They’re trying just to survive. They need an education. This is the only opportunity–to go to this church school that we support. And honestly, it’s the only meal the kids get each day. So for them to show up at school and not have a meal would be devastating to the family and to the kids themselves, and obviously the learning process.”
Already Bright Hope has had to cut back from two meals a day to just one. To lose their ability to provide food completely would significantly decrease the involvement in the school.
In an attempt to reduce dependency on World Food Program, they supplement the rice they receive with additional resources including meat and vegetables.
The education they provide is a long-term ministry to help children climb out of the slums in which they live. Many supporters understand this concept, but often the push for long-term overshadows the awareness of immediate needs. Dyer has a unique view from inside the ministry: “A lot of times we think as Americans, ‘Hey we want to do some of the meatier things of job training or micro-lending or things that really help in the long term,” and we forget that some of these immediate needs really are about survival and about helping kids have an opportunity to learn and to grow in school and to come to school.”
By providing for their immediate needs, Bright Hope can continue the education of the children with their future in mind: “It’s a Christian education, so they are learning Scripture, they are learning the Bible. Not only are they doing math and reading and writing and science and all the different studies, but they have the basics of the Christian faith.”
The Scripture learning is not merely supplementary, however. Backed up by the gifts that have been given by Bright Hope, the Gospel is making an impact on these children:
As I’ve talked to these young people, they know Scripture; they know there’s a Jesus and that he’s real to them and that he’s looking out after them. And they know that this church is providing these services—the school and the meals—because of their faith in God. And that the resources that people from America, from Bright Hope, are there to encourage them in their faith, encourage them that they can overcome the poverty that they’ve been born into and find a way out of that community.”
Dyer urges you not to forget these children and their basic needs this Christmas season. It is easy to forget in a season of abundance that there are people out there who are just trying to survive on what little they have. Help Bright Hope bring true Christmas Joy to these communities this year. For a list of gifts that Bright Hope administers, check out their Season of Hope catalog.
As always, pray that the Gospel will continue to flourish as these little ones hear about Jesus and feel His love from brothers and sisters in His name.