Leaving Footprints

James Ouma
Posted September 27, 2017 from Kenya

Lifesong Kenyahas hosted children who have come to visit our boys and girls two times. The CITAM Bururu Sunday School visit is the most recent one.The first children to visit came from Oshwal Academy, three years ago. The children brought their best clothes, toys, underwear and a few old clothes belonging to their parents.

While Jared Junior, who was a full time volunteer then, and I were sorting the clothes, we came across bundles of adult old clothes. At first, we thought the children’s parents had used the donations as the perfect way of disposing of old clothes.

“This is funny,” Jared said, “but wait a minute?”

“What are you thinking?” I asked.

“How can we turn this into a blessing?” he asked, his eyes lighting up. “What if we harvest the buttons?”

We were facing a lot of challenges at that time. Much as we were happy running a mentoring program at Dagoretti Girls Rehabilitation Centre, we were not completely settled. We would leave home, walk to Dagoretti for the program and come back home to find a padlock on the door. We seldom had enough food at home, couldn’t pay rent and lacked tangible resources to share with the girls.

The making of Jim Buttons

The Oshwal Academy visit came at the right time. For starters, it acted as a motivating factor. Secondly, Teacher Clifford Oluoch answered our call for resources by bringing the children. Thirdly, we had something to share with the girls and other children. Fourthly, the old clothes birthedsomething profound. It gave birth to the making of Jim Buttons.

A week later, we arrived at the centre and asked the girls if we could sew buttons on their dresses. Strangely enough, most of them did not have spare clothes other than the uniforms they were wearing. Jared and I begun sewing and repairing their dresses on them! It was the most humbling thing we had ever done as Lifesong Kenya full time volunteers.

Similar post:The Making of Jim Buttons

Most of the girls did not have panties, bras or any other inner clothes and to sew their torn clothes while on their bodies enabled us to minister in a deeper way. While sewing their torn clothes and replacing missing buttons, Jared and I begun talking to the girls about self worth, owning material things and purpose. With time, those who had extra pairs of slippers, buckets, basins and other things decided to start sharing. Those who have worked with vulnerable people know this is a huge breakthrough.

Looking back, I realize just how much of a blessing those old clothes have been. I discovered and realized that I don’t need millions of money to change the world. I just need to be available andwilling to use what I have available. However, my work and vision has outgrown using buttons. That has pointed me tomy writingand how I can use it to earn an income.

CITAM Buruburu Sunday School Visit

As a full time volunteer, it is not possible for me to hold a 9-5 job. That is where my writing comes in. I am able to write for clients when I am not actively involved in visiting the boys in prison or tracing their parents. What’s more, I am able to enjoy and operate in my gifting and calling as a writer.

I have not landed any clients yet. However, I have been writing, promoting my website and believe it is only a matter of time before work starts streaming in. I am also planning to find ways of using writing to empower the young people we are already working with at the juvenile prison and informal schools.

Involving children in our work

It has been my desire to involve children and young people in Lifesong Kenya’s work. That is why the CITAM Buruburu Sunday School visit excites me. The visit happened after Pastor Judy Anabwani linked us with Pastor Terry Mburu.The children from CITAM Buruburu brought lots of stuff that included tissue paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, milk, biscuits and underwear.

This was a good gesture and I appreciate because the boys and girls we work with received more things that will add value to their lives behind bars.Though 90% of these underwear won’t fit my boys in juvenile prison, it is a confirmation of what I have been trusting God for.

Lifesong Kenya has reached a level where using buttons and sharing tangible things is not enough. Lifesong Kenya needs resources, lots of it. Most of it are not tangible things. I have come to discover that vulnerable people, especially in prisons, don’t need the tangible things that most people easily and readily part with.

What prisoners and vulnerable people need the most

  • opportunities to gain valuable skills through training
  • job placements when they exit prison
  • families that are willing to walk with them during and after exiting prison

I have a lot of ideas that needs input of partners and individuals. I am planning to specifically share with children and young people. The CITAM Buruburu Sunday School visit was not just a visit to me. It has more to it than meets a casual observing eye.I take it as a sign from God that Lifesong Kenya’s next level of engagement has come.

Inbox me if you’d like to be part of this and need more info.You can also hire me as a writer for your website and social media engagements. This will enable me to earn an income and have more resources for my work as a full time volunteer. Clickthis linkto know more about my services as a write.

Comments 3

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Precious Onyeka Okoye
Sep 28, 2017
Sep 28, 2017

Thumbs up to you, keep up the good work...

maeann
Nov 02, 2017
Nov 02, 2017

Dear James,

Thank you for sharing what you are doing and your plans to share it with children and young people.  Thank you also for offering your skills.  May you connect with the right people with your objectives in helping.

Caro.f
Nov 03, 2017
Nov 03, 2017

Thank you for sharing what you are doing. I wish you the best in your future endeavors. It sounds like a great way to help the community. 

Have a great day :)