As I walked deep into the Obunga slum with a few of my Kenyan co-workers, more and more kids began following us. Little Gift and his grandma were leading us to the house where we were going to meet Baba Geoffrey (“Baba” means “Father” in Swahili). Baba Geoffrey’s son was an Ndoto sponsored student, but he had recently graduated from college and is now a clinical officer!
As we approached the house, out came this tall man with speckles of grey hair and the biggest smile I have ever seen! Baba Geoffrey was so excited to greet us, and he eagerly led us the rest of the way to his home. Dodging clothes lines and a few kids playing outside, we finally made it.
I had to duck down so as to not hit my head on the door and came into his quaint home with a table and some seating. There was a curtain that separated the bedroom from the living space and hid his cooking utensils for when he had guests. The walls were made of mud with a concrete floor, a wooden door, and a tin roof. There was no light inside except for the bit of sun streaming in through the door and Baba Geoffrey’s beaming smile.
We chatted for a bit and Baba Geoffrey began sharing his story. He began selling groundnuts for a living in 1973 so that he could pay for his school fees up to 7th grade, and he has been selling them ever since. He leaves at 6am to purchase them from the market, prepares them, and sells them in Kisumu from 11am – 7pm. He told us that on a good day, he could make 200-300 KSH (roughly $2-$3 dollars). As he shared his story, he prepared some groundnuts for each of us with great pride.
He began to speak about Geoffrey, and how he had always hoped for more for his sons and daughters. Geoffrey finished 8th grade and earned enough money to attend high school. He had scored well on his K.C.P.E. (Kenya Certificate of Primary School) exams and was accepted to attend Kisumu Day Secondary School. When he learned about Ndoto and came to apply for sponsorship, his entire family was hopeful that he would get a chance to be sponsored. When he was accepted, the family was overjoyed!
Baba Geoffrey talked of the changes he has seen in his son. He said that he sees Geoffrey making good choices and respecting his father. He watched him continue to make good grades and pursue his dream of becoming a Clinical Officer as he joined Kenya Medical Training College. Geoffrey was the first one in his family to go to college! His story has given hope not only to his family but also his community. His sister, Julian, is also an Ndoto sponsored student, and Baba thinks she might perform even better than her big brother. Baba Geoffrey is one proud dad. He beams with pride and joy about his life, as well as his children and their accomplishments. As we were leaving, he said it was his goal to always help his son remain on his knees giving thanks to God for the blessing of his education and to pray for the future of his family and community.
We walked back to the Ndoto office, groundnuts in hand, and I couldn’t help but smile. This family has worked hard, done the best they can for their children, and been grateful for every moment God has provided. They are why we work in this community and why we press on towards the vision God’s called us to. We don’t always get to see the fruits of our labor, but that day was one blessing from God that I won’t soon forget.