TTI was started by Clara Wiggins after she traveled to Kenya and saw first-hand the injustice that poverty had inflicted on children in the slums.
I made my first trip to Kenya in 2007. I was invited to be a part of a team trip and thought of it as a once in a lifetime experience. Little did I know that the trip would change the course of my life. When I arrived in Kenya I was stunned by the beauty. The beauty of the countryside, of Lake Victoria and the beauty I saw in the people.
While we were there we visited a place called Nyallenda, a large slum in Kisumu that has been hit hard by the AIDS crisis. Our team was asked to visit people who were HIV positive so that we could encourage them and take them a bit of food. It was my first time in a slum. I visited several people before coming to the home of a woman named Rachel.
When I walked into Rachel's house I found her sitting on a mat on the floor. She was sick and asked for prayer. I asked her how I could pray for her. She told me that she was afraid that she might die and wanted to know what would happen to her children. Her words hung heavy in the room. I sat down on the mat next to Rachel and put my arm around her. She started crying and told me that I was the first person who had touched her in months. She told me her family had disowned her when they found out she was HIV positive. I didn’t know what to say. After praying with Rachel, I did my best to collect myself.
I left her house feeling sad about how Rachel had been treated. I also felt confronted by what I knew the Bible says about caring for the poor. I knew that this situation was so different from what God had intended. As I continued walking through Nyallenda, I met a group of kids who were gathering at a community center in hopes of finding lunch. As I talked to the kids and learned their stories, I had a greater understanding of Rachel's question. Many of the kids had lost their parents from AIDS.
I walked away from the experience with the lingering question...... Who is taking care of the children? As I traveled back to the states, all I could think about was getting back to Kenya. I made it back to Kenya at the end of 2007 and then again in 2008, just after the post-election violence hit the country and took the lives of over 1000 people. As I watched the post-election violence unfold on the news, I just kept thinking about the children.
I made several trips over the course of the next few years. On each trip I went to Nyallenda, and with the help of some people from a local community center, I was able to track down some of the kids I met on the first few trips. At first it was hard to know how to help. I started by funding a feeding program and buying shoes and school uniforms for kids. It was difficult to know what to do for kids who had so much need. But, with a lot of help and a lot of prayer.... a plan started to emerge.
In those early days I learned a lot. I learned that poverty has a way of stripping people of dignity and the basic things they need to live. Food, shelter, education, health care and family. I decided that the best way to do that was to start addressing the areas where basic things had been stripped away. Some of the kids needed a safe place to live. Other kids were not eating regularly. Some were being used to raise foreign aid by members of their own community. All of the kids needed a chance to go to a good school. Many of them were HIV positive and all of them were fighting bouts of malaria and typhoid and needed health care.
In the beginning, I tried the group-home approach but learned quickly that in most cases, children do better when they live with their families. So we scrapped that idea and started looking for ways to help kids live with family members in the community. In most cases we have been able to find family members. When that is not possible we have been fortunate enough to find families willing to foster kids. One of the amazing l things that has come from the project is that the kids have started to have a sense of family and community when they are together. They celebrate each others' accomplishments and comfort each other through the hard times. It is a beautiful by-product of the project.
We currently have 40 children enrolled in the program. Some of the kids are HIV positive and some of the kids have lost their parents to AIDS. We will see our first round of kids graduate from high school in December of 2017 and our first vocational school graduate in November of 2017. Being involved in TTI and in the lives of the children we serve has been a privilege. I don't have words to describe how amazing it is to watch as the kids grow up, gain ground and start to thrive in life.
For more information visit our what we do page