This is the seventh and last in a series by Adventist Review news correspondent Marcos Paseggi on the Maranatha volunteer project at Kajiado Adventist School in Kajiado, Kenya. The project included several other initiatives across the country.—Enno Müller, news editor, Adventist Review
After long days of exacting labor under the east African sun, it was time for Maranatha Volunteers International participants to celebrate the completion of the new block of classrooms at Kajiado Adventist School in Kajiado, Kenya.
The July 7, 2022, ceremony brought together regional Adventist church leaders, Kajiado school faculty and staff, students, and guests to bask in the accomplishment and reflect on the importance of Adventist education.
“We thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” was the message heard time after time during the ceremony. “Thank you for investing in our future and helping us to thrive.”
A Place of Refuge
Kajiado Adventist School is an institution that for more than two decades has rescued and provided education to Maasai girls escaping the prospects of an early marriage, female genital mutilation, and abuse. The boarding school and rescue center has lately incorporated students from the community, including some boys, after parents are increasingly asking to send their children there so they also can get a wholistic Adventist education.
During the July 7 ceremony, Adventist church leaders from the local field, who are also doing what they can to support the viability of the school, thanked Maranatha for its commitment to help transform the lives of Maasai girls and others. “Your work is making a world of a difference in this place,” they told Maranatha leaders. “May the Lord bless you abundantly in your endeavors.”
Blocks and Steel Beams
After providing much-needed churches and schools in almost 90 countries for decades, Maranatha Volunteers International has also, since 2018, been helping to transform the Adventist Church and Adventist education in Kenya. It is accomplishing, ministry leaders said, one building and water well at a time.
On the grounds of the Adventist Church’s East-Central Africa Division building near Nairobi, Maranatha opened a workshop where workers prepare the steel beams used for the frame of its building structures across Kenya. The initiative has helped reduce costs and improve logistical challenges.
“Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we managed to keep production afloat,” Maranatha Kenya country director Ron Kedas said. Kedas explained how locally hired workers stayed in the complex around the workshop for weeks when everything else went into lockdown. Through a special permit, trucks kept coming and going, taking the much-needed steel frames to any place in Kenya where they were needed. “We never stopped,” he said.
A Time to Celebrate
At the July 7 inauguration event in Kajiado, in the traditional Maasai fashion, singing and dancing added to the festive mood of the 90-minute ceremony. Maranatha participants received recognitions for their service, including a special mention of the youngest (age 10) and the oldest (age 83) in the pool of visiting volunteers. Every member of the visiting team also received a traditional Maasai shuka robe and a bead bracelet with their first name engraved on it.
“Every time you wear this shuka and this bracelet, you become part of our community,” school leaders said. “You are not visitors anymore; you are now part of us.”
Sponsored by Maranatha and regional church leaders, the school received donated bags of food, including white corn, beans, and rice. Students also were gifted bars of soap, Bibles, and a copy of a modern, deluxe edition of Ellen White’s book Steps to Christ.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the time came for Kajiado faculty, staff, and students to step into their new classrooms for the first time. Singing, dancing, and loud, joyful exclamations accompanied the moment, as the group toured the new facilities and celebrated the achievement.
As Maranatha leaders usually emphasize, the ministry role is not just adding churches, schools, and water wells to the list of Adventist Church properties around the world; it is supporting the wholistic development of individuals’ lives, so that they are preparing themselves to, in turn, serve others.
Against that background, it was Irene Kawira, who teaches Kiswahili and Cultural Responsive Education (CRE) at the secondary level at Kajiado Adventist School, who perhaps expressed in the best way the thankfulness of all involved. During the inauguration ceremony, Kawira thanked Maranatha Volunteers International for their support of the institution’s development plans on behalf of the rest of the school faculty and staff.
“I want to thank you for all you have done for us,” Kawira said, “and I would like you to know and remember that here at Kajiado, you are not just building buildings; you are also building us.”