By Megan Ann Williams
The Kibera Slum in Kenya, one of the most populated places on earth, measures 1.5 square miles, and is home to more than one million people. You won’t find it on any vacation pamphlets or flyers, but it is where Marissa Moschetta, a senior from Houston, chose to spend her 2010 summer vacation.
Having been on six different trips, Moschetta has always had a love of missions that has carried on to her life here at Baylor. Her experience on these trips, starting in middle school, has helped to shape her passions and ultimately led her to pursue a degree in social work. Her desire to help alleviate poverty came from seeing the world’s needs firsthand, and realizing that meeting physical and spiritual requirements are most effective when they go hand in hand.
Moschetta’s most memorable mission trip was with the School of Social Work in the summer of 2010. She was one of nine Baylor students to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, to see how the skills that she had learned in the classroom could be applied to problems around the world. Together, they visited slums, orphanages, and churches, and were able to envision how they could make a difference in the world. “It really helped me to permanently have a ‘zoomed out’ view of the world,” Moschetta said. “There are needs greater than mine. There are ways that I can advocate for these children, and they are loved by God just the same as I am.”
The social work team visited the Reynolds Ministry Center and Kay School in Kitale, Kenya, as well as the Kibera Slum. They learned about poverty, community development, and foster care as alternatives to the often-detrimental orphanages. Despite how trying the experience was, both physically and emotionally, Moschetta came away from it happy to have served a foreign country in a new way.
The kindness that was shown on the mission trip was not a one-way street, however. She left Kenya with the gift of love that her new friends had given her. She said that she has never had “such a connection with the people” that she served on her mission trips.
This summer, Moschetta is working as the youth and family development coordinator at the Boys, Girls, and Adults Community Development Center (BGACDC) in Marvell, Arkansas. “It is an extremely impoverished area, and I get to be immersed in it!” she said. The program is run through the Shepherd Poverty Alliance, and this is the first time that Baylor partnered with it as a part of the Baylor Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative, which was designed to create a vehicle for social change in issues of poverty and social and economic justice. The program is still growing, with people like Moschetta leading the way into its future.
She is not only laying the foundation for her own life, but also for the future of the School of Social Work. Moschetta’s experiences this summer will give her a new look into the world of non-profit organizations. She is paving the path to her future, and is excited about the unknown opportunities of tomorrow.