Friday, April 27, 2012

What Kibera Means To Me

The best way I can tell you what Kibera means to me is in photos. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's that time... I'm going to KENYA!

Hello Wonderful Friends and Family,

I happy to share so special news with you, I am returning to Kenya this summer!

The past two summers I have spent three weeks working with a team from my church in Kenya. The church I attend, Ecclesia Hollywood (, supports the indigenous aid groups, Ghetto Light Youth and Homecare Fellowship in the Kibera Slum of Nairobi, Kenya. The main focus of these organizations is to care for orphans, teens and widows affected by poverty and AIDS, by providing everything from meals to schooling to developing sustainable businesses. They are supported by Tirzah International (, an amazing organization working to empower women and children across the globe.

My experience these past two summers were nothing short of life changing. These children are so hungry for love and attention. Despite the fact that most of them only own 1 or 2 outfits, their shoes are falling apart, they may not eat for days at a time and face horrendous abuse, all they want is to hold your hand and to know you will return next year. How can I say no to such a simple request?

I left Kenya hungry to do more. Asking myself, how can I help these children in a meaningful way? This summer I will be returning with Ecclesia to work with Homecare Fellowship and Ghetto Light Youth once again. We will run the camp for Homecare and Ghetto Light Youth, in addition to working in the feeding centers and schools run by Homecare within Kibera.

A few facts about Kibera:

- Kibera is the largest slum in Africa, the second largest in the world.

- 1.5 million people live in an area the size of Central Park.

- One in five children will not live to see their 5th birthday.

- Only 8% of girls will have the opportunity to go to school.

- 66% of girls will have traded sex for food by the time they turn 16.

Last year I not only raised the money for my trip but also reached my dream of raising $10,000 to start an educational fund children of Homecare Fellowship. This fund is providing first aid, school supplies, test fees, desk fees and other things that would keep children out of school otherwise. I can’t tell you how great the need is for these these things. Running our first aid tent last year, most of these children had never seen a Band-Aid and most certainly did not know how to take care of their infected wounds. The schools that we visited had no books, paper or writing utensils. The teachers simply lectured from the few resources they had to a group of children ages 3 to 16. And clothes. Most of the children only have one or two outfits and shoes that are falling apart. In a slum with no running water or sewage system, this puts them at extreme risk for many diseases.

I know that I can’t fix everything that these amazing kids face each day, but I can strive to make their lives just a little bit better. We are looking to make a generational change, to help them to get a classroom education along with educating them on health and wellness. And most importantly we want to show them that they are LOVED beyond measure. Please help me to continue this movement.

So the fundraising quest begins now. I am getting a late start this year and our flight costs are due in a matter of weeks. Below is the breakdown of just how your money will be put to use and all the ways you can help. Every little bit helps, even $10! And all contributions are 100% TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

- Flight Cost: Approximately $2000

- Ecclesia Kenya Team Cost: $1500 (includes lodging, travel, food,camp supplies, etc.)

- Medical, School and Clothing Supplies: my goal is to raise $10,000, but the more you give the more we will be able to provide these amazing kids!

How To Donate:

Donate Online:

-Click on "Log in to Online Giving"

-Create new account or log in as returning member

-Select "Kenya Mission Team 2012" under "Fund" drop-down menu

-Choose "Paige Smith" under "Sub Fund" drop-down menu

Donate by Check: Make checks payable to Ecclesia Hollywood

- mark in the memo “Paige Smith - Kenya”

- mail to: Paige Smith, 1006 Everett Pl, Los Angeles, CA, 90026

Other ways you can help:

Forward this email on to anyone who might be interested in the cause.

Tweet about it! Follow me @paigecsmith and post the link below.

Facebook me! Post a link to this letter:

Blog about it! Share your thoughts and this awesome cause!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter, I know it’s a long one but it is difficult to sum up just how important these people and their struggles are to me. They have given me far more than I will ever be able to give them but I won’t give up trying!

If you have any questions please feel free to email or call. And for more information check out my

Much Love,


Friday, March 9, 2012

Tiny Miracles

Last year, about this time, I announced a shoot for the moon dream. I was honestly thinking about the quote, “shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land in the stars.” Well, I didn’t land in the stars, I landed on the moon. I announced on this blog, twitter, facebook and via email that I wanted to raise $10,000 to bring aid supplies and programs to the slum of Kibera. The support from friends, family and strangers blew my mind. I raised just over $10,000.

I quickly learned raising the money was only the first step. Then comes the planning. It takes a lot of time as you brainstorm ideas, present them and get approval from both Kenyan leaders and their US support and accountability partners.

I think it is vital to hear from the people in Kibera what they see as their greatest needs and meet them there. During my time in Kenya I saw three areas of great need:

  1. Basic Necessities: food, water, shelter and clothing.
  2. Mental and Physical Health Care
  3. Education and Mentorship

All three of these areas were echoed by families and children I have spent time with over the past two and a half years.

My first area of focus will be education. Education, because that is our only hope of breaking the cycle of poverty. While I will be focusing on education I am also going to be supplying schools with basic first aid tools, which can save lives in place where HIV/AIDS and water borne diseases run rampant. I will also be bringing with me as many children’s shoes and clothes as possible.

Now the exciting news... I’m going to Kenya in two weeks with the head of Tirzah International to meet with the leaders of Homecare and Ghetto Light Youth, visit schools, families, homes and businesses. I am honored to have the opportunity. I know that I will be learning so much about the people of Kibera and how I can serve and empower them.

For me the past two years have been especially difficult and filled with trials and loss. This little miracle of a dream reminds me that God is faithful. He is faithful and He hears our prayers, He hears our cries. His answers may not come in our timing but they will come in His. There are times when I have been frustrated, defeated and ready to give up. But two weeks from today I will be arriving in Kenya to put to use $10,000, the exact amount I dreamed and prayed for. I am eternally grateful for all of you who have become a part of this journey along with me, your support means more than I can say. I can’t wait to share all I learn with you when I return.

Asante Sana,


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Remembering My Friends In Kenya

I came across some drawings from my friends in Kenya today. There's nothing like being loved through art and I definitely was. Two little girls in my group drew me in their journals and a friend snapped a shot of the drawings for me. Just thought I'd share them with you all.

I'm hoping to head back to Kenya soon and maybe teach an art class in one of the schools... hopes & dreams...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thousands of Kiberans Displaced

An article came to my attention yesterday that left me discouraged and saddened. Over 5,000 people in the Soweto region of Kibera have been evicted from their homes with less than 5 days notice. The Kenya government is demolishing their homes to build new government housing. How can this happen, you ask? Kibera is not recognized by the government and therefore all the people who live there are technically living there illegally. The people of Kibera do not have the same rights as other Kenyan citizens, especially when it comes to property.

While I support the Kenyan government trying to create better living conditions for the people of Kibera, I have to think that there is a better way to go about doing it. Over 5,000 people were given 5 days to move from their homes, most with nowhere to go. Some residents didn't hear about the demolition until the bulldozers arrived. The government has provided no contingency plan for the people they have displaced. Yet again, the needs of Kiberans have been pushed to the side. The Kenyan government and aid groups often fail to listen to the actual people of Kibera and impose their own beliefs of what is best upon them.

It is easy for me to criticize and yet I, myself, do not have a solution. The one thing I can do is encourage dialogue. Dialogue and support that comes alongside the people of Kibera and does not dictate to them how they should live their lives.

For more information about what is going on in Kibera and footage on the ground check out this article from The Atlantic Cities.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Helping With A Hug

I am a big fan of Nicholas Kristof, the columnist for The New York Times and co-author of “Half The Sky”. He is in fact my favorite journalist. He illuminates the issues across the globe that I am most passionate about. He has covered Kibera and specifically the work of Shining Hope and The Kibera School for Girls in multiple articles. This guy knows his stuff.

I was overjoyed to come across an article he wrote this week entitled, “A Poverty Solution That Starts With A Hug.” In this article he talks about the release of a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics based on over twenty years of research. In the study doctors and researchers found that “toxic stress” in early childhood and even in the womb can create life long damage for a child. This occurs because of elevated cortisol levels released when a child is in crisis. The increase in cortisol then changes the chemistry of the child’s brain for life.

The fascinating part of this study is the antidote. Researchers found that best cure and prevention for toxic stress is affection. When a child is held, hugged, rocked, told they are loved, their cortisol levels actually go down.

When I read this article I wanted to shout it from the rooftops because it seemed to be scientific proof of my emotional experience in Kibera. The children we work with are often orphans or their parents are neglectful or abusive. In even the best scenarios the parents are gone all day looking for work. Children are left in the care of other children or to fend for themselves.

When our group of twenty Americans appears for two weeks each year they launch into our arms, fight over who gets to hold our hand and beg us not to leave. They are starved for affection. I often experienced girls who would rather lay with their head in my lap than play with any of the new toys we brought.

It breaks my heart because it is such a simple solution to such an epidemic problem. It costs no money or governmental approval, yet these children go without the fulfillment of one of their most basic needs. I’m not sure what the answer is but I am encouraged that people like Nicholas Kristof are shining a light on this devastating issue. Now go give someone a hug!

To read read Mr.Kristof’s article visit the following link:

Please also visit my previous blog post about Mary where I first discovered this great need.