[Written by Shawndee Lovoy]

In Swahili, Tabasumu means smile.

The largest slum in Africa is the Kibera Slum. In fact, it is one of the largest slums in the world. It is home to about 250,000 souls in the space of about 1.5 miles. The government owns the land and about 10% of the people are shack owners, and the other 90% are tenants with no rights. The average size of a shack is about 12ft by 12 ft, and usually houses and sleeps about 8 people. Only about 20% of Kibera has electricity. There are no toilet facilities and about 50 shacks will generally share 1 latrine (hole in the ground). When the hole is full then young boys will carry the contents and dump it in the rivers. Water is scarce and polluted. Cheap alcohol and drugs are rampant. About 50% of the young girls ages 16-25 are pregnant and most babies are unwanted/aborted, or uncared for if born. The average life expectancy is 30 years old.

There doesn’t seem to be much to smile about in Kibera slum.  3 of my 4 children have been to Kibera slum with their grandparents. We have ministry partners there who are the hands and feet of Jesus in one of the darkest places on earth. The circumstances of these children’s lives are dire and without much hope. But I’ve seen the smiles. I’ve seen the pictures of hundreds of smiling children who just want to be loved and noticed. They are drawn to anyone who will show them attention and my children have had the life-changing chance to meet them, love them, laugh with them, and see them for the children of God that they are.

We have the chance this missions month at Cross Creek to provide smiles through shoes, socks, snacks, and bibles gifted to the Tabasumu ministry in Kibera slum. Our Cross Creek kids are working hard to raise money to purchase as many of these items as we can, and to bring smiles to the faces of these precious children. We are so thankful to the Lord for our ministry partners and friends who give of their lives to love these children and provide basic needs to make their lives a little better. Let’s continue to pray for the smiles of the Kibera slum children. Pray that they would know their worth and life is rooted in Jesus. That He sees them and cares for them. Pray that Jesus would be their smile and their peace.