Kongowea is a tough neighbourhood. I think I am realizing it more and more as I spend more time in it. I realize the depth of what poverty does. I am seeing the effects of addictions and strongholds of nasty substances. I see laziness and sexism. I see all sorts of religions. I see dirt everywhere. It's overwhelming. It's a tough place to live.
I sat on the sidelines watching the game on thursday when all of a sudden a huge black cloud of smoke started rising from behind one of the houses. I know that behind that house is a large pile of garbage and typically, kenyans burn their garbage. So I guess someone decided that during our football match was the perfect time to light the heaping pile of garbage on fire. At first it wasn't too bad, but then it got worse and worse until my lungs started to burn. I started getting a tickle in my throat and soon started to cough. It was just me either; the rest of the crowd was dong the same. I couldn't imagine what the players where feeling as they were dashing up and down the field. I tried not to let myself think about what I was inhaling or what sort of smoky, dusty, germs were landing on my skin.
Then in the middle of the game, everyone rushed to the other side of the field. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. I was left all alone. People started scrambling and racing up and down. My heart started to race a little not knowing what is going on and if I was safe. I guess a fight had erupted on the sidelines. It wasn't because of the game but some guys had their own personal issues and decided that the pitch was the prefect place to create a big scene and get everyone involved. Kenyan's mob mentality always amazes me. Kelvin kindly asked that they boys take their fight somewhere else, and the game carried on.
Now our tournament has started to attract some political attention and now we are having requests of local politicians to use it as a platform to gain supporters. They would be even willing to support the tournament financially. Any of them who approaches us gets a big, fat NO WAY! We are being extra careful when it comes to politics (if you want to learn more about kenya's political situation right now, just google what is happening at the ICC with some of the country's MPs). We want this league to have nothing to do with it. We have no guests of honour or special people. Its a local tournament for the local people.
So the community continues to tug at all my heartstrings. There is so much need! Pray that we can continue to guide, mentor and lead these boys and this ministry despite the tough surroundings.