Jumping into A Better Future with Maisha Safe House Family
25th of July was a special day for the Jump Rope family. Impelled by our mantra “Jumping into a better future”, we sought to share our giftedness with Maisha Safe House family. We were linked to Maisha safe house family by Mr. Patrick Odongo, who is the Director of Ugali Youth. We were aware that although the Covid-19 pandemic had had a serious negative impact on the urban poor, there was still ‘a silent majority’ of vulnerable people, ‘a special category of poor’ who were being left out in most mitigation efforts. These were the children. And in a special way, the girl-children who had been exposed to various forms of grievous abuses from their very own families and communities.
As Jump Rope family, we were conscious that we had very little to give in terms of material resources. We also had very little to offer in terms counseling skills. But we strongly believed that no one was so poor or wounded that s/he had nothing to give or offer, and none was so rich or happy that s/he has nothing to receive. From the onset therefore, we had resolved to leverage on what is often perceived as our limitations and woundedness and transform them into moments, spaces and experiences of mutually liberating joy and hope. We were driven by our focus to positively change our otherwise debilitating situations by tapping into the only assets that we had in the here and now, namely; our very presence as individuals, the transformative giftedness of our child jumpers and local experiences of community solidarity.
Encountering Florence was such a privilege and blessing to the Jump Rope family. She is such a gem. Her hospitality was an embodiment of what Maisha stood for. With an amazingly accommodative heart, she showed a blend of deep love for the kids and measured firmness, ingredients which are needed to feel, accompany and guide the woundedness of the silent majority.
While most of the jumpers were familiar with safe houses, they only knew them as a rescue center. Our brief interaction with the leadership of Maisha safe house though, quickly revealed to us that Maisha is uniquely designed as a family and not just a center for rescue. That Maisha is not trying to act as a parallel family, but a bridging family which seeks to improve and reconcile our very own families by constructively engaging the endemic menace of sexual abuse and violence hidden within families. The joy and happiness that we experienced among the children in Misha safe house obscured their woundedness and vulnerability. In spite of the subliminal pain, there was visible hope
Coach David and Isaac were not surprised when Maisha children opined that they didn’t understand why people had to come all the way from Kibera to jump rope for them. At face value, rope skipping appeared so normal a practice that they were skeptical of its novelty or value addition to them. But when the young jumpers started demonstrating the complex jumping skills and combination of team drills and choreographies, they were all left amazed. They realized that the ‘Rope’ symbolized more than just a normal sport kit. The jumpers shared their deeper interpretation of what a rope is. Rope is first and foremost a lens through which they look at life. ‘Rope represents a mindset’, coach David observed. While for ages ropes had been used to tie a people in various forms of slavery, for Jump Rope family, a rope represents the mindset and social/moral skills necessary to engage and jump through the inevitable hurdles of life.
Jump rope is designed to transform people from victims to victors. They marveled at how Mitchell Kuya, one of star jumpers from Kibera was able to secure a scholarship in one of the most prestigious centers of academic excellence –Makini School– through jumping. They learned how Jump Rope instilled deep respect for both genders as Jump Rope is one of the rare sports in which both males and females form mixed teams for competition. They also got to learn how young boys and girls from what is normally seen as chaotic slums of Kibera were able to make annual trips to the US and Norway, as the only team representing Kenya in the World Jump Rope championships.
From our young girls’ team of Mitchell Kuya and Blessing Naliaka, they learned how a jump rope has taught them high levels of discipline, hard work, consistency and trusting the process. ‘Jump Rope’, Coach Isaac explained, ‘taught them that while failure is an integral part of life, conscious practicing and repetition of doing good, has the capacity to gradually disempower the effects of failure in our lives and open up new avenues for growth and progress. Finally, they also learnt that jump rope was about being conscious of every step. “Every step matter; every step is thought through” said Mitchell Kuya. Just as every step counts in Jump Rope, so does every step count in decision-making process about our lives. Our progress and growth process are a summation of every little small steps that we make daily.
With hearts full of thanksgiving, the encounter between the Maisha safe house family and Jump Rope family opened new doors for future collaboration and mutual help. Young girls can empower themselves more through joint programmes. At the end of it all, Jump Rope team discovered the deeper meaning of life through Maisha, while Maisha family were roped in to the belief that no matter our woundedness and disempowering past experiences, together, we can still jump into better future.
JRAK TEAM KENYA