I’ve traveled extensively for Cross through the years, but I’ve never seen an example of urban poverty as horrible as the Kibera slum. Kibera is one of the biggest slums in the world, with an estimated population of 1 million people living inside the maze of broken down shanties and piles of garbage.
I can’t imagine the hardships a child experiences growing up there. It’s tragic that this is all they know of life – the signs and sounds of this terrible, gigantic slum. On my trip there, I watched children playing in piles of trash and grieved over teenagers who had resorted to sniffing glue as an escape from their problems.
It would be easy to fall into despair in the midst of this chaos, but my visit to Kibera also revealed that there can be hope – even where life’s challenges seem overwhelming. For example, The African Children’s Choir, best known for their performances across the United States, Canada and Europe, has founded a Music for Life program in a nearby school. Since they can’t take every child in Africa on tour, they have established Music for Life after-school programs to teach children music, the Bible and the hope that Jesus brings. The Cross International team visited this project and witnessed the impact they are making on the children of Kibera.
When we walked into the first classroom, we were mobbed by happy children who wanted it to give us a hug and perform the songs they’ve recently learned. It was such a far cry from the destitution I had witnessed just a few minutes earlier.
“We work in seven different African countries,” said Mwai Githinji, program director. “We wanted to know what we can do for the kids who can’t go on tour. Ninety-five percent of these children are from the slum. When they go through the program, their self-esteem rises. It is our avenue to show the children that they can do something.”
That’s exactly what I saw: Children who are being empowered to do something in life. As they sang worship music and recited Bible verses, I saw hope shining in their eyes.
“We teach the children about God’s love and use the Bible as well,” Mwai continued. “We give devotions, Bible stories, and just let the children know we share because of the love of God.”
For many of the kids, this is their first exposure to the Gospel since they come from a variety of religious backgrounds.
This Music for Life program is helping children do more than survive life in the slum. Its dedicated Christian leaders are giving these boys and girls the tools they need to thrive, and the message of Jesus is proclaimed as a result. Praise the Lord for bringing hope to one of the world’s worst slums!
Cross International is proud to partner with African Children’s Choir. For more information about how you can host the choir at your church, click here.