Paul & the desks

I first tried making a desk in Kenya in 2010, and failed miserably. The wood was far too tough to cut, the saw not sharp enough, or most likely I just didn’t have the strength or endurance to complete the task. I went back to mixing cement by hand and let others try to build school desks.

This last summer, one of the major projects was building desks, and there was no escape for me this time.

For children’s desks, we nailed 178 lbs of nails into 2,948 feet of wood that we cut and sanded by hand. My brother, being a handyman back home, was asked to head up the project, measuring the wood, and helping the rest of us figure out just how exactly it was we were supposed to put the desks together so that they would be suitable for the children. I had to take apart many a desk before I got it right…..

My brother, the master fundi, in the Utah shirt.

On our last day in Kenya, we left Eunice’s school and headed to Grace’s school to complete the last of the desks. In just a few hours time, the last of the desks were done. I don’t recall how many we made, but it felt like hundreds.

That evening, the World of Difference volunteers gathered together to have a debriefing session. It is a time for us to express our feelings about the experiences we had while in Kenya serving others.

Paul and his wife Becky were two of our volunteers that had both grown up in Kenya, and later immigrated to the USA. They wanted to come back to Kenya to help their own country. It was the first time that World of Difference had Kenyans volunteer that were now US citizens.

Paul took a deep breath as he started to speak. He told us that when we had gone to a slum school earlier in the week, that it was the slum that he had grown up in. He continued, with tears in his eyes, to tell us that he remembered sitting in the exact same type desks that we had built when he was a child. He knew that the desks we were making were going to make a difference, just as the desk he used to sit in as a child had allowed him to get the education to become the person he was today….

I had never heard such a powerful sentiment in my whole life. Our team leader, jD, told Paul that he didn’t know why ( at the time) we should go to that area, but he now knew we went to that slum school just for Paul to have this experience.

It’s funny how things like this just seem to happen while in Kenya.

Paul, affectionately called himself “Black Moses”. A man who is symbol of quiet strength, and someone whose words I always carry with me.

Black Moses

I often think about Paul and the desks. His story was one that helped save me that day from my own difficulties, and continues to inspire and uplift me today.

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Wench, bring my ale, what say you?