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Where are all the men?

Where are the men?

Travel 5 miles off the Northern Coast of Kenya into the interior coastal ridge and you will find a place called Gongoni. Gongoni consist of three main villages set a top a gorgeous coastal ridge line near the thriving city of Mombasa; Kenya's oldest city. A top this coastal ridge is lined with coconut trees, a thick diversity of other trees, an abundance of foliage, and soil so rich in nutrients a farmer only need to accidently spill seed on the ground to reap a bountiful harvest. In the afternoon you may find yourself sipping Chi in the home of one of the local families, enjoying the afternoon sea breeze whisking through an open air sitting room. If you didn't know any better you'd think you were on a tropical island in a 5 star resort, but the truth of the matter is if you scratch just below the surface you will find many social ills that will make you want to sell everything you have and give it to the poor.

The social ills of the Gongoni community are many, and like many other communities in East Africa the people are tough, persevering, and hopeful in the face of overwhelming circumstances and abject poverty. As I had the privilege of traveling from house to house meeting the people in the Gongoni village I seen and heard many things. Upon arrival at Mary's house I saw approximately 13 children, 3 of whom were Mary's, gathered around the front of the house in torn tattered clothes. One small boy named Safari was wearing what was once a white shirt now brown and missing most of the buttons and what appeared to be blue shorts now glistening of a reddish tinge from the red soil which also covers his feet. The time was 12:00 p.m. and school wasn't due to be out until 1:00 p.m. yet here were 13 children all school age gathered around us. I also met Mary's second oldest daughter who is 16 years old and has never seen the inside of a school classroom. I saw no father, empty stomach's, little literacy, and a scarcity of hope for the future.

Children not in school

Mary's story was not unique but sadly all too common. As I went from house to house I saw the same story repeated over and over. As my journey progressed from house to house I slowly began to see through the thick fog of the various challenges responsible for such circumstances, and a question began to emerge. A question pointing to the main social ill responsible for such circumstances suddenly began rising to the surface begging to be asked. The splintering question capturing my mind was begging to be asked was, "Where are all the men?" I thought to myself, "The men must be out in their fields working the land on their farms." Or, "The men have traveled outside the village to the nearby market places to buy and sell." Or, "They must be in nearby Mombasa working and will be traveling home later." All of these would have been acceptable to my mind, but none of my scenarios was the truth of the matter. The men were not working the land, buying or selling in nearby markets, nor have they gone to work in the city. In fact many of the women are widows, many were married off young (12-16 yrs old) only to return back home with 3-4 children of their own after failed marriages. Yet others have only been frequented by men who sired the children never to return, leaving the women not only to raise children on their own but also deal with challenges of living life HIV positive.

Where are the men? I've been told one of the greatest social ill facing this society today is the absence of the men as Fathers, Husbands, and Leaders.It seems, NO amount of money, aid, or development without addressing the social ill of the absent Father will help the dire situation of some communities in East Africa, but unfortunately will only be a badly placed band aid upon a society that needs to experience the restoration of its men to their rightful place.

Please be praying for the Lord to begin releasing strategies from heaven that will be effective in reaching these men of East Africa to be restored to their rightful place as Fathers, Husbands and Leaders.

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