By Amanda Thomas
The Baylor Spiritual Life Women’s Leadership Team will travel to Nairobi, Kenya this summer to deliver 120 pairs of new shoes to St. Kizito Orphanage.
The Women’s Leadership Team was founded last year by Melanie Smith, international student relations coordinator, and Rebecca Kennedy, director of missions for Baylor Spiritual Life.
Six students make up the team and have been working with Smith to prepare for the mission trip. While in Kenya, the team will teach leadership skills to women in schools, orphanages and businesses, Smith said.
Fort Worth senior Lauren Goff, project coordinator for the Women’s Leadership Team, came up with the idea of taking the shoes to St. Kizito during the mission trip.
“I wanted to start a shoe project and bring over shoes to Kenya,” Goff said.
Buckner International’s Shoes For Orphan Souls ministry has distributed two million pairs of new shoes to children in the United States and in 74 countries, according to their website.
“We decided we wanted to do more than be tourists in Africa, take pictures, come back and show people the pictures we took,” Melanie Smith, international student relations coordinator, said. “We want to make a difference, and we saw so much potential [to do that] in St. Kizito Orphanage.”
San Diego, Calif., sophomore Hayley Gibson is keeping a blog to discuss the team’s goals and progress along the journey. On the blog, Gibson wrote that St. Kizito facilities are not large enough to allow the children to stay on site, although many of the children are homeless.
Along with collecting shoes, the leadership team has also been working with Searsville Baptist Church, which has donated $4,000 toward rebuilding and expanding the orphanage.
The team hopes to find more sponsors so St. Kizito can buy a larger plot of land and build a facility that can house the children, according to the blog.
“When we go to Kenya, we plan to look at a piece of land and put down a down payment,” Smith said.
Gibson said she has been on seven mission trips, including one with the leadership team to Nairobi last year. Gibson said the trip to Nairobi had such an impact on her that she wanted to go again this year.
“I’ve traveled a lot and seen a lot of poverty, but nothing like the poor parts of Kenya,” Gibson said. “We walked through the Kibera [Kenya] slums, the second largest slum in the world, and something inside of me broke.”
Members of the 2012 team said they were excited to work on this upcoming project and serve the Kenyan community again. Next year, the team will travel to Ethiopia, and in the future, they hope to continue giving to St. Kizito.
“I felt that there is an extraordinary need to empower women in Third World countries because they don’t have the opportunities we have,” Gibson said. “God is definitely preparing our hearts to start something huge.”