By Jennifer Wiley
Several years ago (2014), I received a box in the mail from someone in Washington D.C with a request to take it a lady named Mamma Regina in Kibera on my upcoming trip to Kenya. At the time I did not know Mamma Regina, but another volunteer did and wanted to send her some items she had gotten for her. When the box arrived, of course I searched it good and then re-packed the items in my suitcase going to Kenya. (I know, I know, but in this network of volunteers, we all help each other get care packages to and from)
When I arrived in Kenya, I had a task….. go into Kibera (the world’s second largest slum) and find “Mamma Regina” and give her these items (clothes/lotions, just basic items of love). Okay, so that’s over 1 million people here in this one community…. one word… HOW? Thankfully, one of the NVS staff knew her too and was able to take me to her.
When I knocked on the door, she had the most inviting smile and happiest voice I had ever heard. She welcomed me right in as if she had known me for my whole life and made me Chai. I instantly loved Mamma Regina too! Over the years, I have visited her time and time again, even taking other volunteers I meet in Kenya with me to meet her too! Everyone should know Mamma Regina, she is truly full of joy!
Mamma Regina is an active lady in Kibera. She is very involved in her church and has been providing a Bible Club for the children of the community for years. The children come early on Saturday mornings for breakfast (“Uggi” (ew-gee)/porridge) and then stay for Bible studies and lunch. Lunch is often rice, beans and some veggies when available. Mamma had been partnering with various church members and people of Kibera over the years to make the food available for the kids in the Bible Club. Most recently, my friend Kylee’s Church Missions Board supplied enough rice and beans to last many weeks (and when we say many weeks…. definitely many weeks!).
Mamma Regina is a very special lady to the community of Kibera, to so many volunteers and to me. She has lived in Kibera her whole life and despite the environmental challenges of Kibera, she still wants to serve others by sharing the word of God with the children. Stopping to meet Mamma Regina is something you don’t want to miss if you are walking through Kibera! It is a guarantee you will laugh together and pray together! I am so glad she has been part of my life in Kenya for so many years and I am so thankful to that one volunteer from Washington DC who sent me a package to be delivered. What that volunteer did not know is that she had sent me a gift too- Mamma Regina! Mamma Regina has become a second mother to me in life!
(In the photo above, we started out praying together but it turned into this scene here. We take prayer seriously, we promise, however, Mamma’s humor causes us to not be able to help ourselves sometimes. It is moments like these that are so meaningful!)