I felt welcomed in this hot place. Maybe it was the strange sight of a foreigner entering, maybe it was the fruit snacks that were being passed out. Whatever it was, the kids and even adults were not shy about asking for their picture to be taken. Something so simple that I often take for granted, these kids and adults reminded me of the joy of seeing their reflection looking back at them, even if it was from a camera.
We met many people along the way. Some sitting outside their small shacks, some weaving baskets, some simply sitting in their doorways, perhaps to try and catch a breeze to cool themselves in the hot, hot sun.
We came upon our destination, the pre-school. Most of the kids in the slums don't go to school, so this tiny pre-school is a welcomed blessing as is the teacher who comes every day to teach them. We arrived with just enough fruit snacks to pass out to the kids. Upon leaving, several found us and asked for prayer. God is a God of miracles and that's what I'm believing for the various ailments that were prayed for.
Despite the welcome that I felt, the slums are a very unwelcoming place to live. The lack of security for these shacks makes women and children vulnerable to those who prowl the night hours. The stories grew with fervor to break my heart...a mother who tied her kids up in the house and they ate mud to survive, young girls who had to grow up too soon when they became pregnant from men three times their age, an 8 year old boy who went around raping girls and his mother brushed it off as silly child's play.
Pray for the slum areas. Pray for those who find themselves the victims of such evil. Pray that lives would be transformed by the hand of God. It's a reality so far from my own, but it exists, and I can't turn a blind eye.