My time here in East Africa has come to a close. Over the last two months I’ve had the honor and privilege to sit down with so many incredible individuals and listen to their stories; from young children facing the challenges of getting a basic education, to elderly men and women who have lived with leprosy the majority of their life, to leaders who have given up their personal pursuits to serve their community. The situations are different, the struggles and challenges vary, but their hope is what binds them all together.

What follows is a small photo journal of a few of these conversations.

We are so excited to be able to share these stories in video format with you over the coming year. And, as we release each story you will have the ability to become a part of the continued narrative… to give life to the hope that binds them!

So, join our community of action on by becoming an ally and keep an eye out as we start to release these stories starting in July.

Compassion = Action,

Travis Gravette
Founder & Executive Director

Walking through the slums of Mombasa, I start to think of all the other slums I’ve visited around the world. They can vary wildly, but all have similar through lines. You can feel the hopelessness, the despair, the lack of self-worth. There’s a longing for opportunity, for a dying dream to be reborn and displayed in front of you, not as a dream, but as your reality. Many dream of breaking free from the vice like grip of the slums, yet few seem to achieve it. Why is this? What makes escape so seemingly improbable, if not impossible?

Many have been born into the slums. Never having a chance, never knowing what one would look like. They’ve lived in dilapidated shacks, hastily thrown together, barely standing, their whole lives. They walk barefoot, through heaps of trash with raw sewage draining beside their walkways. Many have never even left the confines of the slum.

I walked through the slums of Mombasa, stepping on piles of fermenting and rotting garbage, over small pools of toxic looking green waste. We made our way down the coastline at the base of the slum, stepping around piles of feces littering the sand, as there are a lack of bathrooms. If you are not careful, you can feel the overwhelming hopelessness creep over you, like a thick fog that has no intention of releasing you from its misty haze.

But hope cannot be kept down. We are with a few of the Action Ministry team. They begin to introduce us to people they are working with in the slums. And they being to share their stories. Hope rises. Families that started out in a home that was literally falling to pieces, has now moved to a better part of the slum into a small mud and brick home. It may not seem like much, but it is a huge step for them.

We hear stories of teenagers and twenty-somethings, that have taken up soccer and boxing in Action Ministry’s sports program. We visit the gym where the boxers train. It is an incredible sight. They tell us how much they love it. How it is teaching them discipline and how those they train with have become like family. We hear of the programs and initiatives that Action Ministry has in store for these slums in Mombasa. And the misty haze begins to dissolve. The fog begins to lift. Hope, as it always does, rises to the surface.

We can be so quick in dismissing those of the slums, those living in abject poverty. We can throw our hands up in despair and walk away. Never looking back and muttering the question of what is the point. Let us not be so quick to judge, to dismiss. There is a strong tide beginning to shift in the slums of Mombasa. The team of Action Ministry knows the potential of these precious lives. They see the possibilites of these forgotten children. They refuse to let their vision be clouded by the fog of doubt and defeat.

It will be a long fight, yes, but one worth fighting. No one should ever be dismissed for not having the opportunities growing up that so many of us take for granted. No one. Let us link arms with Action Ministry as they support and love the people of the slums of Mombasa. Action Ministry is assembling many practical ways for you to get involved with helping the people of the slums. Keep visiting the Needs page on Know.Think.Act. To see how you can be a part of lifting the fog of hopelessness off of these precious people.

Jeremy Stanley
U.S. Programs Director

WARNING: This post contains graphic images of leprosy wounds and sores.

I grew up reading the Bible, hearing Bible stories, etc… Throughout the Bible you always hear about lepers and leprosy, that they were always deemed unclean, that they were sent away from their city or town or village into camps. There was a severe stigma associated with the disease. Those infected not only had to live with the physical effects of the disease, but also with an intense and overwhelming sense of loneliness and unworthiness from being cast aside and pushed to the margins of society. They became the untouchables. A scratched out footnote of humanity.

Leprosy is a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities. This can mean anything from what looks like a skin disease to the literal loss of fingers, toes and other extremities. Open sores and wounds form and cause even more pain and suffering.

The one thing that I (and I venture to say that many of you) didn’t realize is that leprosy is still alive and active today. It isn’t a strange, rare disease strictly confined to the ancient Biblical middle east. It is present today. It is primarily found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia and South America.

I never thought I would come face to face with those affected by this horrific disease. That I would watch men and women struggle with the basics that we take for granted… walking, holding things in our hands… that I would see limbs and extremities missing… nubs where toes and fingers once were. But I have.

I spent two days at a leper camp visiting with our newest affiliate Action Ministry. They are working with these beautiful people who have been affected by this grotesque disease. As in the stories of the Bible, these lepers have had to deal with the same stigma, rejection and neglect. The exclusion from society and years of being unloved has run so deep that it has had a severe affect on their children and grand children; who are clean and unaffected by the disease.

Through the work of Action Ministry there is a beautiful restoration taking place. The camp was once known as Tumbe (meaning a place for rejected people), but they have renamed it Blessed Camp. Through a feeding program, monthly medical outreaches, educational programs and the founding of a church, they are meeting physical and spiritual needs that have been untouched for years. The work that is being done is incredible… a work of hope and healing.

You can help Action Ministry and be a part of the work that is happening in Blessed Camp. Check out Know.Think.Act. right now. Whether through purchasing medication, food for the feeding program, or educational resources for the children, there is a tangible way that you can get involved.

Click here to help provide the supplies needed to dress the wounds of those affected by leprosy. As little as $80 can help 40 people have their wounds dressed twice a week. That’s $2 per person per week!

Jeremy Stanley
U.S. Programs Director