Five years ago, I went to Kenya to help build a beauty school for women living the most impoverished of conditions. I felt a deep need to help these women.
I had been to Nairobi a few times before with my church to serve along side Mission Of Hope Int. Like most Savior Barbies… I was “shaken to the core” “broken” “speechless” “lost but now am found” “#blessed” and blah blah blah…
Those phrases you could find on most all short-term missionary’s Instagram.
When I went to help MOHI in this endeavor, I subconsciously thought I was over my head, until I got there. Then, I knew I was over my head! The stories of the women I went to teach were unbelievable. Gang rape, starvation, incurable diseases, lost children, and the list went on… and on… and on.
I’m this crazy American girl who thought she could change the world because she had been on a short-term missions trip or two. And now I was in Nairobi building a full-fledged beauty school for women in one of the most impoverished slums in the world.
Slightly/completely terrified, I went and did just that. This school was built to accommodate 14 women for a 6-month term. So, 28 women every year would learn about hair styling, cutting, pressing, weaving, braiding, and all the other amazing things you can do with African hair! I wrote out lesson plans and a schedule for the teacher to use to educate these women.
And then I did what every other short-termer does…. I left.
I went home and prayed like crazy!!!
I went on to Brazil, Mexico, Cambodia, and Thailand to do the same. Help create beauty school programs for women in need of opportunity and who desired a career in hair design.
Fast forward 5 years, I went back to visit this little beauty school I helped build up.
Except it wasn’t there.
The beauty school was still there, but it was empty. Ephantus, director of MOHI’s vocational training, took me to another slum where the beauty school had been moved. It was in a much larger building with the other vocational training programs MOHI offers. I walked into a bustling beauty school with more students than I could count. I sat with Teacher Carol, lead instructor of the program. She hugged me and thanked me profusely for this school that have helped more than 120 women in the slums of Mathare Valley.
Shaken to the core… Speechless…. #blessed
Ephantus and Carol sat and shared how the beauty school exploded!
They had a waiting list every term and Teacher Carol had the hardest time when she had to turn students away. Every 6 months she would watch 20 or more women turn away disappointed that they didn’t make the cut. She could no longer handle that responsibility. Ephantus moved the school to a larger facility to accommodate up to 60 students. Carol was sure this would be the answer… until the first day of school.
162 men and women showed up.
Now, Carol was not turning away 20 women, she was turning away 102 men and women!
Then, something even greater happened. 38 of those men and women refused to leave. They flat out refused. The men said, why can’t we join? Why can only women be here? The women said, we have been turned away 3 times now. Not again. Call the police because I am not leaving.
And the next day, they all showed up again.
Carol was beside herself.
Ephantus was speechless.
They devised a plan and a schedule for each of those 38 students to be in the program. Some part time, some full time. They also enlisted some help from past graduates to help teach. It was a difficult task, but they did it!
Now, the Mission of Hope Beauty School has 98 students and they are on their way to building a brand new facility that will have the capacity to educate hundreds of students every year!
I truly believe this happened, because I left. I went, did what was asked of me, and I left. I allowed the locals to step up and take the lead. They didn’t need me to stay and continue to tell them what to do. They need someone to light a fire under their butts, then walk away, and let them run!
I’m just thankful that someone was me.