MATUL Stories




Alissa Wächter - First Few Months in Nairobi, Kenya

Just a couple of months in to the MATUL Nairobi, Kenya program I have mastered the art of a bucket shower, Swahili language classes are in full swing at four days per week as well as a class at a local university, two online classes through Azusa Pacific University, a microfinance internship with a group of women from the slums, and settling into a new church home. I live in the community of Kibera, just a 3 minute walk from Kibera slum, which is the second largest urban slum in Africa. No one knows exactly how many people live in Kibera, but the population is estimated to be between 200,000-800,000. Yet it is only the size of New York's Central Park. The conditions for residents are dismal, as there is only one latrine (toilet) for about every 50 households, and there is no sewage or waste disposal system, so human waste and garbage is dumped into the river that runs through the community or left along the roadside. Crime and disease run rampant, and the U.N. estimates that 1 in 5 children die before their fifth birthday... Read More


Brandon Wong - Flood in Manila, Philippines
Article for the New Urban World Journal

By the time I woke up the marketplace was eight, maybe even nine, feet under water. Luckily my family and I were living on a slightly higher elevation and were safe for now. I figured my host family would appreciate having some food from the local store on hand should the storm worsen and headed out with my classmate Paul.

On our way back from the store, we saw a group of men at the church. They had fashioned a raft out of a 3' x 4' x ½" wooden board, four 4-foot long bamboo poles probably a good 5 or 6 inches in diameter, some rope and an old tired fashioned into an inner tube. I rushed home to deliver the groceries returning to the church.

When I returned, I was told to hurry up and join the men who had already left, raft in tow... Read More


Grecia Reyes - Life in the City of Joy
Article for the New Urban World Journal

The stories of Kolkata that I have stumbled upon are marked by movement—for some this is done by faith, falling in love with the city and letting this foreign culture become their family. For others, the move is made out of desperation, the city becoming a place of survival, where they take whatever work is possible. Perhaps one of the most joyful experiences in Kolkata has been working for Freeset, a fair trade bag and apparel business offering employment to 170 women that have been trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade through trafficking and poverty.

The factory is a multi-story building. There is much activity happening throughout the day and a whole lot of NOISE. Chaos reigns, especially when orders need to be met. Despite the chaos, there is always time to be in community and feel this sense of peace from the simple sounds of sewing machines, the children laughing in the crèche, and the women signing and gossiping as they get on with work... Read More