Written by Emma Burger
“Meeting Vivian was the best part of my trip to Kenya,” says Nancy Heckman, a resident of Garden Spot Village since June 2012. It was Nancy’s third trip to Kenya; her second with a Travel with Purpose Trip with Garden Spot Village.
During the trip from 2/23-3/9, Nancy was able to finally meet her 13-year-old sponsor child, Vivian. The pair have been sending letters back and forth for a little over a year, but this was the first time they were able to talk in person.
Nancy visited Vivian at her school where she was met with not only her sponsor child, but with the work that Missions of Hope International (MOHI) is doing. MOHI, a Christian school and Kenyan non-profit, was originally started by a Kenyan couple, meant to financially support underprivileged students to try and combat poverty in the area. MOHI financially and academically supports students so they can receive a good education and open up opportunities for them.
Nancy and Vivian, along with the group and the other 16 sponsor children, not only spent time together at the school but also at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi. There, they saw the giraffes up close and personally feed them. “They were laughing and giggling, there was lots of joy,” remembers Nancy about the time with the 17 children. Afterward, the kids enjoyed their first time eating at KFC and were dancing on the bus ride back to their homes.
Although a very happy experience, Nancy does say that the poverty around the school was the hardest part to witness. There was no electricity nor indoor plumbing, and everyone either lived in a shack or apartment. “It really puts things into perspective about what we have back home and all that we take for granted. You think more about what you do have and what they don’t have,” comments Nancy. It was for this reason that MOHI impacted Nancy so much. MOHI truly gives these children hope and makes Vivian’s dream of being a doctor a possibility.
Overall, it was a very immersive experience that deepened the relationships of the Garden Spot Village Residents and team members. Not only did the group become closer, but allowed for Nancy and Vivian to meet one another after written communication since December 2020.