Bronwyn and I were being shown around StarKids Academy and Rescue Center. It is called a slum school because of its location and because the community it serves. The school consists mostly of steel walls built on wood frames. The kitchen was made from the wood left over from a shipping container. Most but not all the rooms have poured concrete and most of the furnishings came second and sometimes third hand. We went back to the dorms where the children who lived there slept. There was a room for the boys and a room for the girls. To get to the bunks in the back required you to craw over other bunks since they had put as many beds as possible in the space available to hold as many students as possible. Some bunks slept two children, not because there wasn’t enough bunks but because of the lack of mattresses. The mattresses (think foam mattress pads not box springs) they did have were old, thin, falling apart. Many had holes worn all the way through and were so musty. Our dog Amazi has three mattresses at the house that are all better than any of these. When you are a school struggling to have books and pay teachers and feed children, a new mattress is a luxury that you just can’t afford.
I knew the Holy Spirit was requiring us to do something. After our tour we went out to a nearby field to play games and teach some songs but the entire time all I could think about was tonight all those kids we were playing with would go to sleep in those beds. I was wrecked about it. Those of you who know me know that I’m used to seeing rough conditions. I worked in some of the poorest parts of Memphis with gang members doing home visits for years, but I had never felt the need to do something more than I felt about this. So, in the middle of playing games I went to Ms. Roslyn who runs the school and asked her about the mattresses. I asked her to help me find a supplier and get me quotes on a few different longer lasting ones and that I would see what we could do. After spending the day playing and going to classrooms we went home and by that evening she had some prices for me. The prices were for the thin kind they had that aren’t mattresses as much as foam pads, a middle kind that were a step up from that and something she called “heavy duty”. The “heavy duty” ones were what most of you would think of as a mattress (although still not box spring because most mattresses here even ours are not) and I knew that was what we would have to go with. We went back over to the school, made some arrangements for transport and I sent Nicholas and Victor with Ms. Roslyn to get them paid for. I knew if I went, we might get charged more.
We couldn’t be there when they arrived, mostly because I didn’t expect it to all happen so fast. Kenyan time runs a little differently, but we came back before they went back to the dorms and it was a beautiful site. 85 brand new mattresses piled up and kids running around them happy and excited to go to bed. We helped carry them back and get them on the bunks. It was amazing, it was like ten Christmases. We are excited about continuing to work with StarKids Academy and Rescue Center and planning an entire day of camp for them. We are also planning a work day at the school to help with some general repairs and haul out some junk. They do amazing work there and we are excited we got to be a small part of it.