“Education is the most powerful weapon in the world that you can use to change the world”- Nelson Mandela
Kylee Henneman believes the same and recently showed 492 kids in Kenya how important education really is. Kylee has always had a passion for teaching on an international level and came to Kenya over the summer in 2017 to volunteer at a school in Kibera known as Global One. Kibera is located just outside of Nairobi, Kenya and it is the world’s second largest slum. When we asked Kylee what made her decide on Kenya, she shared that she had always wanted to go to Africa since she was in middle school and at this time in her life, the Lord orchestrated the entire opportunity for her. After her time over the summer, the experience stayed with her and she knew it wasn’t anywhere near over. Just this month (March ’18), she returned to Global One to build a library. Here is why…….
” I felt like the Lord really wanted me to go back and just be the hands and feet of Jesus living out my passion for the education of children” says Kylee. This past summer, she counted just about 100 books for the near 500 students. Kylee says she “wants the kids to have books and be engaged to read, read, read! Reading is the best way to expand a child’s vocabulary and I hope this new library brings that sense of power to the children of the school. I want them to know that there are people cheering them on, wanting them to be successful in their education. I want them to feel loved by people they don’t even know who are so far away (back in the United States) but are still praying for them every day.” Kylee also says “my passion is for every child to have an opportunity to be educated. These kids are very intelligent and capable of going very far in the world and I don’t want their dreams not to become a reality. The books in the library now offer the children stories about animals, other cultures and countries, even our solar system!” These books will continue to serve the students that come through the doors over time.
Kylee partnered with many to obtain the 500 books she flew back to Kenya with this month. Yes, you read that correctly….. just over 500 books! Kylee’s friends and family helped collect children’s books, along with her Church, college Professors, and the Academy for International Studies. She does note that even with the number of books she had, she still did a little shopping at a Christian Thrift store in Boone, NC (where she attends school) and spent only $10, with all the rest of the books being donated to her. Kylee wants to thank everyone involved in this important project!
Getting these books to Global One was definitely a challenge. At this time of year, it’s the rainy season and the terrain in Kibera becomes mud. Kibera is a series of small walkways (dirt, now mud) that weave in and around mud and metal housing structures so you can imagine! To top it all off, it is also always raining! Kylee says “the $7 rain boots I bought were the best investment ever!” With the help of the School Headmaster and some other teachers, they were able to get all of Kylee’s heavy suitcases filled with books through the wet and muddy terrain and into the school. Check out all of the excitement where the kids crowded the book wall to then find a place to sit down and read!
Kylee’s time would not be complete without also stopping to see Mamma Regina. Mamma Regina is well known in Kibera by the children for her weekend Bible Studies. Mamma is also a very active lady in her community in general and in her church. Over the summer, Kylee met Mamma through another volunteer who knew her and had the chance to help with the kids Bible club. Each day while Kylee was in Kibera on this trip, she stopped to see Mamma to or from Global One so they could pray together daily. Kylee’s Grandmother’s church back in North Carolina recently partnered with Mamma to provide rice, beans and other cooking materials so the weekend Bible Club kids could share a meal after their bible studies together. The children are so thankful!
Kylee is originally from Minthill, North Carolina and is a graduate of Independence High School where she completed the Academy of International Studies. As part of the academy, she was required to complete 40 hours of International service hours and 80 hours within the United States, as well as write a research paper on a topic of International interest. Her research topic was International Adoption and the impact upon those adopted. Kylee is no stranger to the International scene! She visited Nicaragua for the first time in 2013 and later worked and lived in Nicaragua for two months in 2016 doing missions work. Her missions work included youth group, vacation Bible School, and school tutoring. After returning from Nicaragua, Kylee enrolled at Central Piedmont Community College (North Carolina Community College System) for her first two years of study and transferred to Appalachian State University this past fall where she studies Elementary Education with a concentration in Social Studies. Once she graduates with her Bachelor’s degree, she plans to teach in North Carolina.