In the slums of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, two boys grew up experiencing the same rough life of poverty and difficulty. “Things were not easy. Awful really.” Simon said, a teenager in the Empower a Child sponsorship program. As they grew, they each thrived on their passion for soccer and desire to learn, and soon had life-changing opportunities as our sponsorship provided an education for them. Dennis commented, “We can learn now and we have the resources we need that we didn’t have before Empower a Child.”
Simon Omondi and Dennis Omondi met one day in 2012 while participating in the summer Vacation Bible School put on by Empower a Child. Both boys were excited to be involved in this weeklong event. As the activities commenced and lessons were taught, the boys’ interaction was minimal. It wasn’t until they were in a group discussion about the life and ministry of Jesus that they began to talk with one another.
Simon laughs remembering those first moments meeting Dennis. “He was quite a bit shorter than me back then and I wasn’t sure what he would be like. I didn’t know we would end up being such good friends after that.” As they started talking, Dennis found out that Simon was attending the school where he would be transferring to the following year. He was eager to get insight from Simon about what he was to expect at his new school.
Over their discussions about secondary school, the boys discovered their common interest in soccer. Even more intriguing than just their love for soccer, they both rooted for the same team, Arsenal Football Club from England. This made for countless hangouts watching the games together on TV. Knowing that they both enjoyed soccer so much, they decided to sign up and play for the same team in the area they live in.
As time went on, their bond grew stronger. The boys are one year apart with Simon being 18 years old in grade 12, and Dennis being 17 years old and in grade 11. They make the most of their difference in grades by helping each other with their studies. Dennis talked about how helpful Simon is with his Chemistry homework. “Simon took Chemistry last year and he helps me when I am having trouble with my homework.” Simon says this also helps him to review the work he did in the previous grade, keeping his mind sharp.
Simon recalled a time when they were walking home from school together and his backpack broke. “The whole strap of it just broke apart.” He then went on to tell how Dennis, without a second thought, reached out to put Simon’s books in his own bag along with his. Dennis proceeded to carry the weight for both of them all the way home from school.
Dennis and Simon also laughed at what a coincidence it is that they partially share the same name. Omondi is a Luo name in their culture meaning ‘early in the morning’. This second name in Kenya is more of a middle name than a family shared surname. Each boy received the name Omondi because of the timing of his birth, early in the morning.
Each of the boys comes from a family with other children. Dennis has both sisters and brothers, while Simon just has sisters. Simon says that Dennis has become like a brother to him. This bond has taken their friendship to an even stronger level.
It is evident that the two spend countless hours together as they interact; one speaks while the other gestures with his hands as though he were the one speaking. They have found over the past three years that their friendship is unlike any other they have had in their lifetime.
As the boys looked at each other smiling when asked what they expect of their friendship in the future, Simon stated without hesitation,
“We want it to grow bigger and bigger.”
"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10