26 October, 2015
All this week we’ll be sharing insights from our team who’ve travelled over to Kenya for a Church Engagement field visit. In this post, Rob, Church Engagement Coordinator, shares about his first impressions, his inaugural Kenyan church experience and what he’s looking forward to visiting CBM projects and meeting CBM beneficiaries.
I’ve arrived in Nairobi with great expectations. We’re visiting a great range of work by our partners in Nairobi, Kajiado, Kisumu, Kakamega and Kijabe. More about all of those places as the week goes on but we will get to see lots of community based work in urban and rural locations amongst people disadvantage by the combination of poverty and disability.
At CBM Australia we’ve been planning to take church leaders to visit CBM projects for about 4 years! We do understand the impact we can have on our field partners, country and regional offices and so we’re very grateful for the time and effort they have made to welcome us to Kenya. Linda Mwania, my colleague at CBM Australia has made the difference because of her deep knowledge of working with all of these groups and her skills at planning and negotiating such a visit. I’m also excited that we have Rev Dona Spencer from Southport Uniting Church and Wendy Campbell from Paradise Point Uniting Church part of this first church leaders’ field trip.
Our first day served to help us adjust to life in Kenya and connect as a team. Linda’s church in Nairobi, Nairobi Chapel, is an exciting church and very hospitable. I loved the passion of this community and the beauty of the relationships we experienced. The afternoon was different in a number of ways as we visited a local market where we met trade was brisk and sometimes brutal. Fortunately, humour was also found in the midst of commercial negotiations. I was offered all the contents of one stall in exchange for my camera!
After meeting our photographer extraordinaire, Guilio, we met up with Kirsten Bostelmann, CBM Regional Director East Africa, who briefed us on our trip and some important cultural guidelines that would help us not offend those we were visiting. It reminded me of the intrusion we make when we visit people with disabilities and the families and CBM’s partner organisations. They have important work to do and lives to live so we need to tread lightly and understand the privilege this is. Tomorrow we will meet people living in urban poverty and hear their stories.