Changing Lives for Good, and for Life
Hey John! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. I’m looking forward to hearing all things Kenya! You’ve been on a fair few trips now. What’s it like going back in the aftermath of Covid?
Well, going back to Kenya after such a long break, I wasn’t sure what to expect and how I would feel. The first difference to note was that here in the UK we were over the worse of the Covid outbreak. In Meru, Kenya, they were behind us and, as such, were adhering to strict distance rules and enforcing wearing masks at all times. For me, going back is all about my faith in Jesus Christ and the love He has placed in my heart for the people of Kenya, and in particular, Meru. The friendships and bonds made over past years remain as strong as ever.
Covid has made for some challenging working environments. Masks and hot temperatures aren’t a good recipe. Communication is not great at the best of time - so imagine it wearing a mask. Keeping everyone safe while still maintaining an excellent service was our top priority. Meeting our patients and talking with our Kenyan friends about the effects of Covid highlighted for me exactly how very privileged and well supported we have been in the UK.
What was it that drew you to Kenya in the first place?
I became a follower and worshipper of Jesus Christ over 30 years ago. It was at that time that God placed Africa in my heart. This translated into a growing need to ‘go and help’. I wasn’t sure where, how or what I was to do, just that at some stage, I would go. After a tentative look at Zambia, my son Luke asked if I would like to join him on a trip with SeeKenya to Meru. That was in 2018 and the rest, as it were, is history. I remember on my first trip having such a deep concern and love for the people.
My role has always been focused on all things to do with frames - fitting lenses, repairing, adjusting etc. It’s a role I thoroughly enjoy and get great satisfaction from!
Do you have any stories of lives you’ve seen changed while you’re out there?
Every trip leaves you emotionally challenged through great highs and lows. Every person who leaves our clinic with new glasses is a life changed and transformed. Having good eye care is something we, in the UK, take for granted. However, good eye care for the majority in Meru is a luxury. For some, their main concern is getting enough food for the day. Having good eye sight, especially for the young, poor and widows, is a game changer.
One elderly lady comes to mind. After going through all the relevant eye checks, she is presented with her new glasses. A moment later she is up dancing and singing, wearing her new glasses. She explains that where she lives, she is known as the 'weird lady', the 'fool'. This is because she cannot go out when it's dark (and it gets dark early) as it’s not safe for her - she can’t distinguish between people and other objects and is very fearful of falling over. Through SeeKenya's provision of glasses, for the first time she can see! No more will she be called ‘a fool’.
Another lady, after trying on her new glasses, starts to cry. When asked why, she explains that now she can see well enough to be able to pick out the grit from the gains of rice. This is huge as rice is the staple diet. Imagine eating grit with every meal!
So what are you looking forward to on your return trip to Kenya?
For me, each new trip provides the possibility to help change people’s lives for good, and for life. It is always a privilege for me to go and be part of a team who seek to serve, to give excellent eye care and so increase the quality of life. This is central to my faith in Jesus, who teaches us to go and care for the ‘poor and the widows’ in society. I would encourage everyone to think, reflect and pray in this regard. Who knows, you could be telling us of your exciting and rewarding times in Meru!
At a personal level, SeeKenya and Kenya also provides a window of opportunity for me to reflect, consider and to put a different perspective on my life. I can say from personal experience just one trip with SeeKenya will change your life.
As a team, we head out again this October to pick up where we left off. I look forward with much anticipation, working alongside a great team of servant hearted individuals, motivated by our love of Jesus, to see how God will work through us for the good of those we serve.
If you’d like to sign up for one of our upcoming trips, go to seekenya.org/trips. If you’re not in a position to go, why not check out our Get Involved page, where you can find a whole host of other ideas about how you can support our life changing work. Thank you.