(I thought it would be fun to hear from someone else on here..I’m sure you guys would love a little break from my ramblings and opinions and hear from someone else for a change. Hoping to share a few more posts from my fellow Kenya friends in the next couple weeks too! -Kiara)
Wow…where to begin?! My two visits to the Seeds Children’s Home have been awe-inspiring. For me, it’s all about the children. These beautiful, energetic children who once struggled in the slums of Kitale now have a chance to thrive and to succeed. They are in a safe place, their bellies are full and they are loved. What child, anywhere on the planet, doesn’t deserve to be safe, fed and loved? Every child deserves these things…and more.
When I think about where these precious children came from, their situations, the abuses they have suffered, I am saddened and humbled. I try to avoid thinking about their past, honestly. I recognize that each of them has a story, and part of that story is difficult and painful. But I know their story doesn’t define them. It is part of who they are and who they will become, but their true story is just beginning. I try to concentrate on their present and their future.
In the present, they are blessed with the ability to go to school. So many of the new girls who now live in the Mighty Acorn house told me their favorite thing about the orphanage was getting an education. I was expecting the answer to the “What’s your favorite thing?” question to be “All my new friends!” or “My new bed!” or “Mama Irene’s kale and ugali!” But, no, they were happy to be able to attend school and learn something new every day. And I think that is awesome.
In the present, they are safe. They are removed from the daily threat of emotional and physical abuse, sexual exploitation, hunger and illness. They are safe and they are allowed to be children. On my most recent visit, I witnessed a very complex game in the courtyard of the orphanage. It involved teams of running/screaming/laughing girls, the tossing of balls, the stacking of corn cobs and the dismantling of the corn cob stack(presumably by the opposing team). I never did figure out the exact rules of the game but I so enjoyed watching the children be children.
In the present, they have faith. Each evening the children gather in a massive group of concentric circles to speak their devotions…which basically involves singing, clapping, dancing and one child reading a bible verse and explaining it to the rest of the crowd. Their lives are no longer filled with desperation and despair but are now overflowing with togetherness, faith and hope. It warms my heart to see them all holding hands…one giant family facing the future together.
And who knows what their future will be? It’s so exciting to think of the possibilities! Eric finished high school last year…the first child from the orphanage to graduate from high school. He then took a course of study (I imagine it to be the equivalent of Junior College in the US) in agriculture and horticulture. He still lives at the orphanage, but works each day as a gardener at a guest house in town. He is currently preparing the land behind the guest house for a green house. So he will be in charge of the grounds of the guest house and his very own green house…and he is VERY excited! I’m just so happy for him…that he has the opportunity for a bright future.
And there are many to follow Eric. The next young man to graduate was Newton Kioko. He finished high school this year and recently took the Kenyan university entrance examination. He is waiting for his scores and will soon find out if college is part of his future! What an exciting time for a young man who, ten years ago, was being cared for by a grandmother who was unable to provide for his most basic needs. He came to the orphanage and blossomed into one of the brightest students in his class. And now may be the first to attend university.
So…to speak of the future for these beautiful boys and girls. Who knows? Jobs, university, the possibilities are endless! The point is not whether a child becomes a gardener or a teacher or a doctor. The point is that, because of the orphanage…because they are educated, safe, loved and nourished in body and spirit, they have opportunity to realize their potential. And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.
I would be remiss if I did not mention how amazed I am by the compassion of David and Denise DeMarchis. Their generous gift has enriched the lives of not only the 100 children currently living in the orphanage but the countless other children who will follow…as well as every person touched by this experience. My trips to Kitale have inspired me and fulfilled me in ways I never knew were possible. I am so thankful for the DeMarchis’ vision in creating a home where these precious children can enjoy the present and explore their futures.