As the sun rose over the Indian Ocean, the members of the Springforth youth team from Atlantic Canada gathered together for a communion service on the white shores of Ukunda, Kenya. The service ended with as the youth sang Rend Collective’s “My Lighthouse”, a chorus that over the past two weeks had become Kamp Tumaini’s theme song– “You are the peace in my troubled sea. Oh, you are the peace in my troubled sea”. It was a beautiful way to close this year’s Kamp Tumaini.
Hosting short-term volunteers is one of the great pleasures of our ministry with Canadian Baptist Ministries in Africa, and this group was among one of our favourites. We are so glad that our three children were able to jump in and participate in the Kamp Tumaini program as members of the team.
This year’s camp ministry with the Guardians of Hope program in Mivumoni, far surpassed our expectations. It was a time of building relationships of mutual understanding and encouragement, as the Canadian youth engaged in a peer-education approach focused on overcoming social stigma and marginalization of people living with HIV and AIDS. The camp theme, Stronger Together, emphasized the importance of inclusion and compassion within our communities and relationships.
Over the five days of Kamp Tumaini, we worked with approximately 450 secondary school students. The songs, cheers, and laughter echoed throughout the community each day, as we lived and shared this year’s theme – Stronger Together.
Kamp Tumaini has been a transformational experience for both the students and the volunteers, alike. As one of the Canadian team members shared, “Seeing the youth every day brought me so much joy. Thinking about their conditions breaks my heart, but their happiness was overwhelming.”
For the seventeen Canadian volunteers, joining the ministry of CBM and our local partner was a powerful time of encountering life and faith in a rural Kenyan village. Through home visits, walking through the community with our hosts, and the days of Kamp everyone was touched in different ways by their experience.
“It hit me that there were half as many girls as boys in every class. I feel so thankful that I grew up in Canada where there are so many opportunities for girls. They didn’t choose where they were born,” shared one of the team members.
“Being with Kamp Tumaini broke my heart,” shared another. “In so many ways, their lives are not safe. They live with so much uncertainty and need, like their fears for the [Kenyan] election. But there was so much hope, I mean just hearing them sing the Kenyan national anthem with so much pride. The students I met have big dreams, they are ambitious, and they are willing to work for it.”
God’s Mission in the world is both local and global. Wherever we are, there are opportunities to live out the love and hope of Christ in our words and our deeds. The opportunity to do this cross-culturally is certainly a special gift that can help us understand not only another part of the world but gain a new perspective on ourselves and our own culture.
For anyone interested in joining us for a future Kamp Tumaini or Short Term Missions opportunity in Africa, the Springforth students offer some advice.
“You can’t fully prepare yourself for what you’re going to see,” shared one volunteer. “You have to be ready for anything, be ready to roll with it and experience it all.”
“I know,” laughed another volunteer, “I spent half my days thinking, I have no idea what is happening. We’d be playing a game with the students and one would be so excited to show or explain something that mid sentence they’d forget to speak English. But it was still awesome and I loved every minute of it. For anyone coming, they need to know that they need to engage. Don’t be standoffish. Don’t be afraid to step out, whether way-out or just a little bit. I know that I am going back [to Canada] more confident than I was before.”
“Kamp Tumaini has made me more confident, as well. I did not think that I could stand up and talk in front of people, but God showed me that I could. I’m taking that back with me.”
“Me too,” agreed one of the high school girls. “As I go back, I know that I will take more chances and engage more. I want to be more outgoing with my peers at school.”
We want to thank everyone who has been supporting this ministry through your prayers and generous contributions.
Please remember our family as we prepare for our upcoming Canadian Home Assignment. We will be traveling back for Oasis, the annual assembly of the Canadian Baptist Churches of the Atlantic. We will be settling Tristan into residence at Acadia University and connecting with churches in Ontario and the Maritime Provinces.
Aaron and Erica Kenny
About Aaron and Erica Kenny
Aaron and Erica Kenny serve as Africa Team Leaders, providing continental leadership and support for CBM’s team, partnerships, and programs. In addition, the Kennys direct CBM’s Muslim Ministries in Kenya where they are involved in strengthening local churches in reaching out to their Muslim neighbors through integral mission.