Monday, June 10, 2013

Rift Valley Academy Visit

Last Thursday, I visited the Rift Valley Academy (RVA), a Christian boarding school in Kijabe, Kenya. I went to talk to some students about Sewanee, to try and get some prospective students interested in the university.
http://www.rva.org/

Interesting fact: The cornerstone for the school was laid by Teddy Roosevelt!

 Having a few friends who attended RVA, I've always wanted to visit but I must admit to being surprised by how beautiful the school is. Despite being located in an area where there is a lot of hardship, RVA managed to give off an aura of hope.

I met the college counsellor for RVA, Steve Peifer, at the Village Market in the morning, and rode with him to the school. Thank goodness, because I doubt I'd have been able to find the school otherwise.

Having recently been kind of frustrated with Kenya, largely due to the traffic issues and desperate inequality, it was refreshing and much needed for me to visit a place that reminded me of how much I love Kenya. Those who have lived in the country probably know what I'm talking about; that pull in your gut when you're in the Rift Valley surrounded by breathtaking views and people who are determined to come out on top of any circumstances that they may face.
The campus was gorgeous, and I found myself wishing I had visited sooner!


The students were amazing and had lots of questions about Sewanee. Hopefully, in a year or two, we may get some students from RVA to attend.
The person I interacted with most was Steve, and from the beginning he came across as a person who was passionate about the people he worked with and served. He gave me some great career advice, and managed to set me completely at ease at the RVA campus; I almost felt that I had been there before!

He gave me a copy of his book, 'A Dream So Big: Our Unlikely Journey to End the Tears of Hunger,' which I thoroughly enjoyed and will be doing a short review of below. I definitely recommend that all of you get yourselves a copy at http://www.amazon.com/Dream-So-Big-Unlikely-Journey/dp/0310326095

 Yes, I know that missionaries in Africa kind of seem to be overdone. However, reading this book, one walks away with feelings of hope and faith, as opposed to despair. Steve and his family moved to Kenya after losing an infant son about 14 years ago. What started out as an intended one year visit turned into a long stay that brought meaning to so many people's lives. Before moving to Kenya, Steve has a successful corporate career, which many would think one would have to be crazy to leave. Reading this book however, you realise that he is definitely not crazy, and may be one of the more sensible men of our time. Coming to RVA, Steve won numerous awards for his work, one of which was a CNN hero award.

Apart from his efforts with guiding the students of RVA, Steve managed to implement feeding programmes at some local schools, as well as computer centres at some of them. I don't want to spoil the book by giving away too much, so I won't give too many details about these.
This book has a great combination of humour and emotions, and the ability to move someone to laughter and to tears. We get to know Jessie the dog, the antics of twins Katie and Ben, the often touching kindness of JT and Matthew, and the strong love that Nancy and Steve share. By showing the stark reality of the people in the Rift Valley, along with their unwavering hope and courage, Steve definitely does justice to the topic of Kenyan poverty without being just another 'charity worker,' the likes of which often do more harm than good.

Anyway, I'll leave you to discover the rest of this for yourselves. Have a hopeful Monday!




2 comments:

lydiah ireri said...

this a touching visit you make me long to being at RVA .anyway this my dream school for my kids.would really wish to meet steve.advice on how i could contact him kindly.am a trained high school teacher in kenya

lydiah ireri said...

this a touching visit you make me long to being at RVA .anyway this my dream school for my kids.would really wish to meet steve.advice on how i could contact him kindly.am a trained high school teacher in kenya

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