No one is born fully formed. It is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are.
- Paulo Freire
The world is full of stories. Good stories. Bad stories. Redemptive stories. Tragic stories. Everyday, stories are being written. Yours and mine.
Here is an amazing story. Not even 2 years ago, chess was introduced to our students in the Kibera Slum and the Kibera Knights chess club was formed. Thank you, Ken Kaplan, for making the introduction. Our students immediately excelled. They competed, and won. Six of them did well enough in local competitions to qualify for the Pan-African Youth Chess Tournament in Cairo, Egypt.
That is the story from ten thousand feet. Good story. On the ground, it gets better. Six children (the Kibera Knights!) board a bus, and go to Nairobi’s international airport for the first time. Same children get on an airplane, and fly to Egypt. Upon arrival, they are swept off to the Hilton in Cairo. First hotel. First swimming pool. First all-you-can-eat buffet. First exposure to young people from all over Africa. First trip to the Pyramids. First camel ride.
Can you even begin to imagine it, or better yet feel it? In a flash, the world was 10,000 times bigger than it had been the day before. More complicated. More interesting, more alluring, more inspiring. Nothing taken for granted. Wide eyes. Big smiles. I think about the all-you-can-eat buffet from the perspective of young people who have not once in their lives overeaten. One of the students joyfully described, “We were serving ourselves the amount we desired.” Poignant words from a food insecure child from Kenya.
While competing, the Kibera Knights won matches and lost matches. They were witnesses to a world of abundance, and then had to return home to the slum. Accident of birth is a curious thing. One parent had these words, “They won. They lost. But most importantly, they learned they belong on a larger stage.” Of course, they do. They always have.
Expanding horizons. Who knew what a few chess sets in the hands of God’s poorest children would bring about? No one is born fully formed.
- Carter Via
CT Founder and Executive Director