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I am on my way to Kenya to see our sponsored son, Ledama! This is part of an on-going story that began in 2006 when I took my pastor to Kenya. Our church, the Father's House, in San Marcos, CA ended up sponsoring almost 150 children from the WV Area Development Program we visited. The area is very remote and desperately needed the clean water, agriculture, schools and health care WV would help develop over the next 13 years. And the primary source of funding would be through sponsorship.

Shortly after the trip with my pastor, my husband Bob and I returned to Kenya to meet Ledama. He was only 5 years old and his father walked with him for over an hour to get to the WV compound. As you can see from the pictures, Ledama was terrified! And his father didn't look any happier. Finally we asked the staff to ask what was wrong. We were all horrified to learn that his parents had misunderstood what "Sponsorship" meant and they thought we would be taking their precious son home with us!!! The relief and joy was enormous when the staff explained we were only going to help them make sure that Ledama would be healthy, cared for and could go to school so he could grow up to be a leader in his own community!

My next visit in 2009 was very different. Ledama's mother and father came with several other siblings to meet with me and celebrate all God was doing to bless their lives through WV sponsorship.

Now i am going back for my final visit. Ledama is now 19 and will soon graduate out of the program. He is at the top of his class in school and over the years has written us wonderful letters in English. I look forward to spending a whole day with him and his family, and seeing how WV has brought sustainable development to the area.

Please pray for safety and good health as I travel. I leave on Friday and return on March 23. I will also be speaking to the WV Leadership conference on March 18, (Sunday night for those in the States.) Please pray that the Lord gives me a powerful word of encouragement to our incredible staff.

I will try to send updates while I am there. But if not, I will share the whole story when I get back. Jambo!
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Kenya 2001 - Part 3

Beautiful Backpacks and Bountiful Bubbles!

In male-dominated cultures like the Maasai tribe, girls often miss out on the formal education that boys are usually afforded. So one of the things World Vision does is strongly encourage families to allow their sponsored girls to go to school along with their brothers. Since sponsorship helps the entire family and community at large, it now actually benefits the family to hold off on marrying their young daughters off for the bride price. And girls who would never have gone past the first few grades are now being allowed to stay in school and even go on to higher education.

We saw this transformational development miracle when we visited the Maasai Girls Secondary School in Narok. One of the things that Women of Vision chapters do so well is to establish unique connections with the women and children they support. On this trip the women had their children paint burlap backpacks and enclose a personal note to the child who would get it. But the gift-exchange didn't end there. We also brought unpainted bags and markers for the girls at the Maasai school to paint and send back to the US kids.

We also visited a co-educational school where we were thrilled to see nearly as many girls as boys in attendance. It was there that I first witnessed the "miracle of the bubbles". One of the ladies puled out a little container of liquid soap and in one blow the school yard was filled with laughter as the children chased after the floating, iridescent balls. Even the shyest children joined in. It was there that I learned that bubbles will make a friend out of the young and the old. So I never travel to the field without bubbles in my bag.
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3 weeks ago

Marilee Pierce Dunker

Marilee Dunker's first trip to Kenya with Women of Vision in July, 2001. ... See MoreSee Less

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"Footsteps" Post #2

When I decided to celebrate my 18 years with WV by sharing the photos I have taken I didn't take into consideration that all my photographs from 2001 thru 2003 are printed on paper, not digital files! So, for the past few weeks I have been sorting through a mountain of "Kodak Moments! Every image and every face has brought back a wonderful memory, but it has taken weeks of scanning to transfer those "memories" onto my computer so I can share them here!

Now that that project is nearly done, I am faced with another dilemma. No one likes to be forced to look at someone else's endless travel photos! So, I have spent hours trying to decide what to share and what to put away in my personal photo albums. I hope I have chosen well.

It is also important to me to showcase the amazing World Vision staff who have made my many trips such a blessing. I have learned countless life lessons from you, been inspired by your love for Christ and humbled by your servant hearts! Unfortunately, I did not realize when I began traveling how quickly memories fade. So, if you see yourself or someone you know in a photo and I have not included your name, please add a "comment" and help me put a name with a face. Names are important!

In my first "Footsteps" post, I shared about our initial visit to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. It was there that I got my first glimpse of the kind of human suffering that broke my father's heart and the life-transforming interventions of Christian doctors, nurses and Christian workers that inspired him to found World Vision.

Our Women of Vision team then returned to Kenya where I not only saw World Vision's work in the field for the first time, but I discovered a world of joy, beauty and community... and the kind of faith that moves mountains! I pray that as you flip through my Kodak Moments, you will feel some of that same wonder and joy.


They say that your first love always owns a piece of your heart. I have had the privilege of traveling to nearly 40 countries and every single one of them has moved me with its unique beauty. But I have to confess that since my first trip to Africa in 2001, Kenya has owned a special place in my heart. A staff member once proudly shared that many people believe that the Garden of Eden was located in Africa. And after viewing the untouched majesty of God’s creation and watching the sun rise over the mists of the Masa Mara, I have to say that I believe it!

I may have been the team “leader”, but the truth is that I had no idea what to expect as we arrived in Nairobi from Ethiopia. However, I was in good hands! The Orange County WOV had been supporting children and projects in Kenya for years and previous trips had taught them exactly what we should do and see. They also understood that women see things a bit differently and our staff made sure that everything we did was designed to help us connect, enjoy and identify with the women and children we would meet.

A famous saying claims that you will never truly know another person until you walk a mile in their shoes. Taking this to heart, our team of Southern California housewives spent three days taking a crash course on "How to Be a Massai Housewife"!

Did I pass the course? Let's just say that what happens in Kenya stays in Kenya!
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