Monthly Archives: November 2013

To the Unsung Kates

“And she’s only 24,” I asked for about the third time as I stood in the kitchen of Serving His Children a malnutrition clinic that reaches out to children in Uganda suffering from malnutrition. I didn’t get to meet Renee while visiting my cousin who is volunteering at the clinic Renee started. But I didn’t have to meet her to know that she is an incredible woman. I looked at the walls and walls of pictures showing what the children looked like when they came and what they looked like when they left. It’s hard to argue against pictures. Renee’s organization (which she first had a vision for when she was 18) educates mothers and relatives about proper nutrition, gets kids back to a healthy weight, seeks to meet families spiritual needs, and checks up on the children once they have returned home to ensure that they stay healthy.

 

Just a few of the children whose lives have been saved by Serving His Children

Just a few of the children whose lives have been saved by Serving His Children

It’s facebook trend at the moment to post the story of Kate Davis author of Kisses from Kate. An incredible story of a young girl who came to Uganda and ended up adopting 13 girls. I haven’t read Kate’s book. I intend to. I’m sure I’ll be able to relate to a lot of her experiences. The longer I’ve lived in Kenya the more I’ve discovered that there are many, many “Kates” maybe not as celebrated but they are definitely making a difference in this crazy world that we call home.

People like Reah whose husband died suddenly leaving her to take care of their young daughter and over 30 children who live at Morning Star Children’s Home. She’s dealt with no money coming in to pay for food, the government threatening to take away her kids, and too many other stories to tell. At the end of the day she trusts in God, and He has brought her through each day.

Or people like Ruthann who manages Abba’s House the children’s home where I work. She’s 24 as well and has been here from the beginning when the youngest boy (who was around 5 at the time) thought it was ok to go to the bathroom in the middle of the living room floor, or when one of our girls thought that taking a shower meant dumping a huge bucket of water over her head flooding the bathroom just before everyone arrived for the grand opening. She’s had to go after a child who ran away because he didn’t want to eat cabbage for dinner and has had to break up fights in the beginning when the kids thought it was ok to settle their differences using physical means.

I could go on and on telling more stories of more people (young people) who are quietly making a big difference in the midst of difficult circumstances. Not to take anything away from Kate Davis, my cousin has met her and she sounds like an incredible, down to earth person who really should be celebrated. I guess my point is that there are a lot of “Kates.” They may not have time to write a book at the moment, but they all have incredible stories. They may not have their story passed around on facebook, but that doesn’t make their story any less inspiring. They make me stop and ask what more can I be doing with my life because they are all younger than me and are living so close to God that’s it’s hard not to feel changed just by knowing a piece of their story. So thank you to everyone who is quietly making a difference in life no matter your age, no matter how celebrated or uncelebrated you are. The world does not appreciate you enough, but your reward in heaven will be great.

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Atypical

A month after I got to Kenya I considered writing a blog about what a typical day of working in a children’s home looked like for me. I think I gave up the idea of writing that blog when I was standing in the grocery store that day trying to buy food for a family of seventeen kids and the power went out. That was seven months ago, and I don’t think I’ve had a typical day yet.

So what is typical? Nothing really when you help take care of seventeen kids everyday but some things become slightly more typical, well, at least for the most part. So, I’ve decided to stop waiting for a “typical” day and just write about today. Today was anything but typical. The kids are off school until Friday. Two of our staff members were gone over the weekend saying bye to a friend who was leaving for America.

The day started at 5 am when one of the kids woke up with a headache. We’ve been waiting weeks for his glasses to come in, but we’re still waiting. After giving him some Tylenol and a glass of water I went back to bed for a couple of hours. The one nice thing about the kids being off school today is that I was able to set my alarm for seven instead of 5:30.

Breakfast was easy. I made chai and Richelle, our newest staff member, got out jam and bread that had been cooked earlier in the week. After breakfast the group assigned to dishes started to clean up and Alyssa, Richelle, and I came up with a schedule for the day. We told the kids they had free time until 9am which gave me a small window to wash my hair in the girl’s bathroom sink and then try to scrub the paint off my arms from the weekend’s operation paint the wooden play ground structure before the slides arrive. Only two interruptions later, I even had time to brush my teeth before making it back to the living room by 8:59.

The three of us divided up the kids and the chores in order to make the day run fairly smoothly. Richelle took the youngest kids out to weed around the carrots, I worked on tutoring three of the middle boys in English all while working on braiding one of the younger girl’s hair. Alyssa worked on composition with the oldest three and a second group of middle aged kids worked on finishing up a landscaping project that they had started on Saturday.

As lunch approached, I heated up left over rice and gathari (beans and maze) from Sunday’s dinner. Alyssa cooked up some cornmeal porridge for when the leftovers finished. Once the kids were full, we saved the rest for afternoon snack. Vicky, who cooks for us on weekdays, showed up right before lunch. We chatted for awhile, and then I got chai and a plate of food for two of the people who work for us.

After lunch it started to pour. I mean really pour. It let up for awhile but then started to pour again. The kids did a fairly good job of entertaining themselves. I finished up braiding one girl’s hair and then helped a different girl take her braids out. Sometimes taking tiny braids out takes as long as putting them in. After playing for awhile the younger kids went down for a nap. We worked on a shopping list while the kids played or helped Vicky roll out chapattis (a nice treat). After that we, hung out with the older kids until dinner.

Since there is no school tomorrow, the kids asked if they could watch a movie promising that if they did they would sleep in until 8am. We took a vote for which move to watch and the second Chronicles of Narnia movie won. After family devotions, I left the kids watching the movie with Richelle and snuck away to try to get this blog written so that when we head into town tomorrow to do grocery shopping I can quickly post it while I have good Internet access.

Half way through the movie I heard the generator make its, “I’m almost out of gas noise.” Since there is no way to get more gas before tomorrow, we paused the movie and had the kids quickly get ready for bed before the lights went out completely. After giving out some cough medicine and praying with the kids they were all safely tucked in bed. Now I’ll probably stay up and watch a movie until 11pm so that I can wake up our bed wetter one more time before going to bed so that she can make it through the night without having to change her sheets.

Just a typical day rolling with what life brings and making memories along the way. Life is never boring when you live with 17 kids, and it is usually anything but typical.

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Grass Circle Therapy

We sat on the grass circle in the middle of our driveway braiding hair and soaking in the warm Kenyan sun. I worked on one of the little girl’s hair while the older girls took turns braiding each other.

“Sometimes in the camps we used to not eat lunch until 4 pm,” Zippi said completely out of the blue. We’d been talking that week as a team about trying to help the kids work through problems from their past, so when this window opened I ran with it.

“How many meals a day did you receive? What type of food did you eat? How many people did the food feed,” I asked. As Zippi and I talk her brother John suddenly chimed in “My mom tried to leave me in a sewer,” he said. His ten year old eyes looked hurt and distant. “She was not a good mom.”

We kept talking. John in Swahili. Zippi in English. Zippi told the story of how when there had not been enough food in the house her mom had threatened to feed them kerosene. That’s when her aunt took her and her brother away from their mom, she said. Sadly, her youngest sister stayed with her mom. Zippi vowed to one day find her.

We talked about healing. We talked about God’s protection. We talked about how going through hard times grows you and lets you comfort others. We talked about not judging someone who has hurt you but letting God judge them, and as we sat on that grass circle I thanked God for the opportunity to see a small piece of my kids begin to heal.

I don’t have nightmares at night, John does. I don’t know what it’s like to be abused by a relative or to have to work all day cooking and cleaning then staying up late at night just to get your homework done. Zippi knows what that feels like. I don’t know what it feels like to be abandon, uncared for, or neglected; but I am happy that our kids are here now safe and loved.

“I was so excited the night before I came here that I didn’t sleep the whole night,” Zippi told me the other day. They’re here now. They’re safe. They’re loved and free to just be kids. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so that I can be here for them whenever the kids decide to share their stories. Thank you to everyone who helps support a child at Abba’s House. You are changing lives, shaping hearts, and allowing them to become the people God created them to be—loved, chosen, accepted and whole.

John enjoying the grass circle

John enjoying the grass circle

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