By: Alexis M (2015 Team Member)
A few days ago, the Neema girls and staff hosted a Community Day. The property was decked out with three large tents and an impressive sound system that arrived in piecemeal on the back of a motorbike. We sat and listened to the Neema girls sing, heard a few words from local pastors, and watched performances from church choirs. This all culminated in a feast complete with an entire boiled cow. But none of this is why I will treasure the memories from Community Day. Don’t get me wrong, I clapped happily along with the songs, said my “Bwana Asifiwe’s” (Praise God in Swahili), and dished out chapati (Kenyan flatbread) on hundred’s of plates. BUT all of these experiences pale in comparison to the thing that happened before any of the celebration began….the welcoming of guests.
To watch our girls run down to the gate to greet their family, friends, and pastors made my heart swell with happiness. The pure joy in their smiles and the light in their eyes was so evident as they led their loved ones proudly down the path to their seats in the tent. This may seem like a small thing, but some of these girls are welcoming people who have rejected them or treated them as outcasts and counted them as worthless. On this day family members and community members extended the simple gesture of showing up. However, this translates into a monumental gesture of their acknowledgement and celebration of the Neema student they represent. Many of these girls had lost their community before coming to Neema. It was an immense joy to watch them welcome their community to a place where they are learning, growing spiritually, healing, and succeeding with humble spirits yet heads held high.
We are broken individuals without community. And our communities are broken if we discount and ignore the outcasted and oppressed. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says “[The body is a unit]….If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” I rejoice in the fact that Community Day honors the Neema girls.