Sunday, July 13, 2008

Awareness Report

We just spent the past two days out in the village, and while I have been there many times before, somehow this time was very different. I saw a devastating aspect of it that I have yet to see. We spent the afternoon yesterday passing out school uniforms and mosquito nets to just a small handful of the orphans who live in that community. Kandaria village has a total population of about 4000 people. Over three hundred of those are orphans being cared for by others in the community, to the best of their abilities. In my feeble mind, that is an alarming number, and to see even a small group of them all brought together absolutely broke my heart. We met with 45 orphans. 45. That means there are 90 mommies and daddies who are dead, just for this small group of children. That’s astounding! Many families don’t have enough to feed their own mouths, not to mention the mouths of other people’s children. This is a very serious reality, and it’s difficult to truly embrace the devastation of it all until you look into the eyes of the 3 year old who hasn’t eaten a meal in days, who is took weak and too malnourished to even walk, and who has to be carried everywhere she goes. This 3yr old was smaller in size than my 16-month-old daughter, and my heart absolutely broke to watch her.

As the children arrived, I saw eyes that spoke of dejection and hopelessness. They arrived one by one and took a seat on the grass to wait for the uniforms to be passed out. As their name was called, they stepped forward in clothing that was tattered and torn, some with no shoes, some with swollen bellies, and sores on their skin, claimed the new uniform, and stepped into the house to try it on. It was a new child that emerged from the house, with a crisp new uniform in tow. It was amazing and encouraging to see the children reappear with new clothes on their backs and a smile on their faces.

It certainly didn’t solve most of their problems, but it has provided them with a bit of hope. Now they can go to school without worrying about not having a uniform or being mocked endlessly for the holes and tears in their clothing. It’s a step in the direction of allowing them to actually concentrate on schooling for a little while rather than the burdens this world has dealt them.

Sometimes the issue of orphans in Africa can seem so large, so incomprehensible. Sometimes it’s a problem that we see as “over there,” too far away to actually be of any use, or too big for one person to make a difference. We saw several children that day who didn’t have any shoes, not even one pair. According to the people there, one simple pair of shoes for them to wear with their school uniform (they would end up wearing them everywhere, but meant for school) would cost about $10. Ten dollars. That’s it. That would mean skipping two trips to Starbucks, one meal at a restaurant, or bypassing a few unnecessary items on the next trip the store.

One might say, “Well, I can’t help everyone.” And while that is true, you can help one, or two. And it starts in places like this. How many shoes are in your closet? How many pairs of shoes does your child have? Imagine if your child had sores, scrapes, cuts and bruises on his/her feet from walking everywhere barefoot. Imagine walking through a forest like that. How much would you sacrifice to rectify that? Just trying to provide some perspective.

Many of the children that we saw yesterday (and keep in mind that we saw only 45 of the over 300 in this community alone) are seriously malnourished, eating only a few meals a week, two of which are provided for them through a feeding program at the school which provides lunch twice a week. Many of the children there come to school for the meals alone. At home, if there is any food at all, it is cassava, which can only provide so many nutrients at best. Have you ever tried to concentrate on something with a hungry belly? Have you ever tried learning while hungry? You have to feed the belly before you can feed the mind.

The government here boasts about the free education that they offer, yet the conditions under which that “education” is provided has not been altered in the least. Children in the villages have a rustic building for a schoolhouse, no windows, no doors, dirt floors, no desks. These are difficult conditions in which to learn. The children have no backpacks, pens, many are without shoes and socks.

I am not putting this out there to guilt anyone, but it is heavy on my heart to simply share it. I realize that the number of people who will actually come and see firsthand what life is like here is very small relatively. So we are here now so that we may give a report back to you, that we may truly be one.

James 2:15-17 says:
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

You might be saying, “But I am only one person, what can I do?” Great question! A revolution starts with just one person. A revival starts with just one person. Let that person be you.

Proverbs 30:7-9 says this:
“Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Maybe it’s time to take inventory of what we have, and ask the Lord if we have too much. Maybe we spend too much in a day on senseless things, meanwhile, the children of our brothers and sisters across the ocean are doing without altogether. Maybe it’s time to seek contentedness with all that God has given us already, stop accumulating more, and start giving the blessings away.

Allow me to give you some specifics:

Lunchtime Feeding Program (2 days/week) - $1000.00/month
This includes maize, beans, salt, tomatoes, and onions, and also pays a small fee to the cook. This provides lunches currently for about 250 students, though the number of students is increasing because they hear that there is food at the school.

Shoes for orphans (part of school uniform) - $10

School Uniforms - $20 (This is a jumper and shirt for girls and shorts and shirt for boys)

Deworming - $200 every three months (This provides medication for about 60 kids and is extremely important in the villages)

Skin Ointment (for fungal infections, common in the village) - $150 treats about 40 kids

These are the starting points. We have been told by the people here that there are many NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) working in this region of Kenya, but the Kenyans fondly call them “brief-case” NGO’s, meaning they come to the country with their nice briefcases, do some office work in the cities, write a nice report to send back to supporters, and then go on their way. There is no visible effect on the ground, in the trenches, in the villages of the country. We are here to see a visible difference made, true transformation, working with the local leadership at the grass-roots level to be sure that help is getting to where it is needed the most. We start with one community at a time, and as one is empowered and transformation takes place, they will help to empower the next. That is how multiplication takes place.

If it is on your heart at all, please consider standing with us. You can visit the website for Unite 4 Africa, Inc. here. God bless you all.


  1. Thanks so much for this post! Im going over there right now!

  2. Kelsey,
    Thanks so much for reading. I am encouraged to know that! Thanks for the blessing!

  3. I just read your blog by reading a post that you had put on the LPM blog. I was curious because it said that you lived in Kenya. I figured I wanted to read your blog because I am an M*ss*nary in nepal so I wanted to know how I can pray for you. Please let me know if you get a chance ( of those specific heart things that I can pray for you about that come with living in another culture and land. praying for you adn will keep looking at your sight!

  4. Shauna - I search for new entries on your blog daily as they touch me so much. I am especially touched by your entry about the orphans. I am waiting upon the Lord to lead me in my response.

  5. Jen,
    Thank you for keeping up with us as we go. That means so much. I praise the Lord that you are listening for His guidance and how He desire for you to respond. That is encouraging to me. The orphan situation is just staggering, and there are times that I feel completely overwhelmed with it all. But I have seen the difference in just one life, and then another, and then another. We are praying for outstanding transformation to take place, so that the orphan population will stop climbing. Thank you for joining us!


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