In September, eight Faith Lutheran Middle School and High School students visited Kenya through a partnership with World Vision, a Christian nonprofit that provides aid to impoverished countries.
Senior Tom Riggleman said he’d thought the students would be emotionally prepared for what they saw, but “the poverty was astounding.”
“We would see women on the side of the roads carrying these huge jugs of water on their heads,” Riggleman, 17, said of his first trip abroad. “One thing that really broke my heart was … there were these stagnant creeks that animals would be bathing in. Simutaneously, women would be getting water from those same creeks.”
The students traveled to the villages of Katito, Bandaptai and Kisumu, about 200 miles northwest of the metropolitan capital, Nairobi, for five days as part of a new program called World Vision Ignite — which Faith Lutheran students refer to as “The Kenya Project.” It’s billed as an engaged-learning experience that shows students global poverty and its effect on children.
Faith Lutheran is the first school to engage in the program. Through it, the school will support the villages students visited through an ongoing sponsorship.
On Oct. 24, back in Summerlin, the students read stories accompanied by video clips of their trip during an assembly in the school’s auditorium. They urged fellow students and others to commit to helping more people. World Vision representatives brought a virtual reality headset so others could experience a small village in Kenya the same way the group did.
“It really captures the essence of what it was like there,” Riggleman said. “There’s nothing like being there in person face to face with the people there, but after doing the VR experience again, it really took me back.”
That’s by design, said World Vision’s Derek Sciba.
“The idea is to not just read about it in a book, but have activities at schools to engage the students,” Sciba said.
Founded in 1950 by Rev. Robert Pierce of Southern California, World Vision is humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organization that has served over 90 countries since its inception. Oct. 24 marked the launch of the Social Innovation Challenge, a contest from World Vision that challenges students to find a solution to a real-world humanitarian problem. The winning high school will receive $25,000 from World Vision.
“Gratitude was so huge there,” Haley Lilla, a 17-year-old senior, said of Kenya. “When I got back I realized that even though I can’t share this amazing experience with everyone, I can show it through my actions. I can show it by being the person people call when they’re hurting— going out of my way to help people who actually need it …”