ATX to Kibera: The story, The song, The video
Reagan High School in Austin, TX, is in a tough part of town. The state brought up the possibility of closing it down due to academic struggles. So these students, many of them coming from difficult lives and homes, would now have to travel farther to school and learn a new school setup, new classes, and new friends. In the midst of this, a young chemistry teacher named Candice Kaiser took a trip to Kenya. While there she filmed many of the young people of that country sending messages to their US counterparts. The most memorable person was a young Kenyan named Daniel. His message was simple, “We love you. Come visit us.”
She brought the video back to share with her students, hoping it would open their eyes to a society even tougher than their own. But the students didn’t respond the way she expected. They responded with, “Let’s go.” They had been invited and wanted to go. So these students worked during the year raising money for the trip, and with some outside support, this summer a group of youth from Reagan High School went to Kenya. They met the students who had invited them. They saw their homes. They listened to their stories. And they shared their own.
The strongest personality among the Americans was a young man Nijalon; his friend call him, Ni-D. When Ni-D landed in Kenya, he set out to find Daniel. The two connected in ways most unexpected. They each lived without their parents: Daniel, an orphan, Ni-D, who never knew his dad and whose mom was in prison. They understood each other’s stories. And they both loved music. They wrote a song together. Crazily enough, there was a studio nearby. Daniel kept pursuing the American group, asking them to help get the song recorded. Finally, that’s exactly what happened.
Now, I know this story because when the Reagan students planned their trip, they wanted to document it. So one of my good friends, Lee Rothenflue, went along on the trip to film. Once the song was recorded, Daniel and Ni-D turned their focus to Lee, asking to make a music video. There were many reasons not to: it takes too much time, too much effort, they don’t have the right equipment. But in the end, that’s exactly what they did.
Now there is a connection between two poor neighborhoods on opposite sides of the world. The Texas students are trying to raise $50,000 to build a school for the kids they visited in Kenya. You can donate at www.mannaworldwide.com (include the project number 76137. 100% of your gift goes to build this school. Manna is not taking anything out of it for administration). The lives of these students were changed more than anyone planned. For they did not just see with their eyes, but loved with their hearts.
See for yourself. It’s a four minute video that tells a much greater story. A story of God loving the orphans, reaching out to two complete strangers, and creating a bond through life and music stronger than anyone expected for two young men who have learned to expect nothing.
Take a few minutes and watch. Then share it with your friends. “JC”