The rains are here! Farmers are planting maize! The grass is turning green! Flowers are blooming! Kids are roping off their shambas (farms), some with innovative irrigation systems!
Rain water is being “harvested from the metal roofs around our place and a strange relief, which always seems to accompany the first rains, is felt everywhere you go!
I think I mentioned our water crisis last month. The boreholes just could not keep up with our needs and we were paying hundreds of dollars to bring water for domestic chores, watering crops and doing construction. The start of the rainy season was a bit delayed and everyone, including us, was holding our breath in anticipation.
This month, five little boys have joined our family; twins Haji and Alvin, Baby Levi, and just a few days ago, brothers Abraham and Joseph. The twins and the other set of brothers come from extreme situations of neglect. Mental illness, poverty and alcoholism have played their parts, leaving the children alone and hungry most of the time. Bringing them into the In Step family is truly rescuing them from only God knows what!
We have seen these sorts of cases dozens of times over the years, but I never cease to be amazed as I watch these children “come alive” as love, safety and nutrition become the norm for them. At first, they are mainly focused on the food, which miraculously appears several times per day! They are a bit confused about washing their hands and sitting at a table, but soon realize that these are (what seem to them like) rituals which are simple to perform and are always rewarded with a nice, hot meal!
After their stomachs and brains come to terms with regular meals being provided without any struggle on their part, they start “people watching.” They have come from situations which have not prepared them for an environment full of people! Aunties all around, attending to their every need is so foreign to them. Even something as simple as having their noses wiped or being given a bath… it’s like they don’t really know what to do so they become like statues, quickly figuring out that these are more “rituals” that are sure to pay off in the end.
Learning how to interact with other children is also a process. Some kids come to us with a very aggressive nature where other kids are concerned. They have come from an environment where they know better than to fight the grownups, but relationships with children who are not their siblings, are pretty much nonexistent. The In Step kids automatically want to include them in play, but these kids don’t know how to play. Usually, siblings just sit together and watch what’s going on, then slowly, over a period of weeks or months, begin to willingly participate in activities. A few months later, they are the ones receiving newcomers with open arms and you would never guess the tragedy that they had been through!
I know that there are long-term effects of the terrible traumas that these kids have endured, and I don’t pretend otherwise. But now they have a chance at life! They will be given all they need to reach their God-given potential! Watching them transform from frightened, hungry, dirty little creatures into normal, healthy, happy kids, is so fulfilling and makes me thank God for including us in these miracles of His! He has plans for each and every one of them; plans to give them hope and a future!
Baby Levi (pronounced Le-vee) is not from a situation like I just described. He has a loving mother and grandmother and is obviously used to getting attention. The little family of three comes from a tiny village and struggles for everything they get, even food. I have not met Levi’s mom, but Levi and his grandmother are both obviously malnourished. But that isn’t the reason he is here.
Levi’s mother is experiencing life-threatening heart problems and has been hospitalized. She is facing surgery and, if she survives the surgery, a long road of rehabilitation. Because, here in Kenya, hospital patients must have a caretaker stay with them in the hospital, her mom could no longer care for Levi, as she had to become the caretaker for her daughter.
Grandma came with the children’s officer to bring Levi to In Step, so she could see where he would be staying and know he was in safe hands. Her love for her grandson was so evident, yet her daughter needed her more. What a position to be put in! My heart absolutely broke for her, as I tried to imagine the heartache she must be experiencing. It was another reminder that life can be so hard, but God can always open a way!
I hugged Levi’s grandma (who probably isn’t as old as I am) and promised her that we would take good care of him. I told her to go and focus on her daughter and that Levi would be here waiting for them to come for him! I don’t know if that’s how things will go, but for Levi’s sake, I pray that his mom can come through this and the three of them can be reunited!
Some of you may have heard about the political demonstrations which have been going on across the country of Kenya. At this point, we haven’t seen any unrest in our area, but because the Capital city of Nairobi is the center of it all, it has disrupted Joanie’s speech therapy schedule. With the opposition party calling for peaceful demonstrations (which aren’t peaceful at all) every Monday and Thursday, it’s impossible to schedule travel in and out of Nairobi with enough time for Joanie’s appointments without passing through the hotspot!
The high school kids were home for a few days for half-term break. It was good to see them have an opportunity to relax and be with family. Please continue to pray for them, especially the Form Ones (Freshmen), as they are away from home for the first time and trying to adapt to a very different environment from what they are used to. They are doing okay with it, pulling up their socks, as they say here. I am so proud of them all! High school in Kenya is seriously strict and not academically easy! There is so much pressure to get good grades, be well-behaved, etc.! But they are doing it and they will make it through!
Thanks for sticking with me through another long update! We appreciate you all so very much, for absolutely nothing would be happening here if it wasn’t for your prayers and other support!
Happy Resurrection Day to you all!