After a short visit to the projects in Kenya that ReACT is a part of, I can honestly say that I have never been as excited and filled with a sense of God's partnership as I am now. Partnering with our friends in Kenya as well as our friends here in the West is an enormous privilege that reminds me that we are a bridge between these two "similarly different" worlds.
We have three main projects that we are involved with in the Kitale area of Kenya.
First is our partnership with two schools in which presently there are seventy seven registered children that the friends of ReACT sponsor. One of the schools is for deaf children and the other is for children with various handicaps both mental and physical. We first started sponsoring children in these schools in 2005 and I can honestly say that I have never seen these children look as healthy and bright as I did on this trip. There is something that can be said for making small investments over a long period of time which many of you have been doing. Investments made this way (whether its time with your kids or finances for retirement) are, in my opinion, the most profitable in the long run and the fruit of this kind of investing is increasingly evident as each year and trip passes by. Like a growing child, we can also see where we need to make changes though this too is an exciting prospect.
ReACT has partnered with two other Kenyan families to care for OVC's (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) since 2005. Between these two families, there are almost 60 children that are cared for in what we call Organic Homes. The purpose of these Organic Homes is to provide a cost-effective, family friendly and culturally relevant means of caring for OVC's. While many in Kenya focus on "Orphanage" style of care, we have felt that Organic Homes provide a more multipliable model for orphan care at a more reasonable cost.
Our second partner is Daniel and Anastasia Juma. In 2005, ReACT began partnering with this home by helping start a small business using "bicycle taxis" or boda-boda's as they are known in Kenya. Over the years since 2005, Juma has saved and purchased his own motorcycles for use in his delivery business, started raising chickens for sale to local hotels and restaurants, started a popcorn business as well as other small ventures. This has not only increased his ability to provide for his family, but has also been a living example to his children and the 20 extra OVC's in his home. In the past months this family was able to move to a new property with 5 acres that will further move them towards being self-sufficient in the next year or two. We are now moving into the final stages of this process, that is, mentoring and reproducing this model with someone else. Complex things break down...simple things multiply. A simple model like this home is cost-effective, culturally relevant and simple enough to be reproduced.
Or third partner is Martin and Ruth Shikuku. They too have recently moved to new property as many of you know. They currently care for almost 40 children at their new location and are making changes that move them into new directions. We are both excited and challenged by the needs that this home brings with it. During this time in Kenya, a team has come around Martin and Ruth to assist them with the enormous task that they have in front of them. Everyone that I spoke with that knows this couple spoke highly of their hearts and desire to help those around them and we are also excited to see where God is taking this home and its children. It is our prayer that the team working with them there will be able to assist them with the decisions and direction that is in front of them.
As always, I have both enjoyed and appreciated the team at Transformed International in Kitale who have not only become our partners over the years but more so our friends. Daniel and Ashlie Lipparelli and the team of Eric, Anne, Mark and Derick are indispensable to our work there as well as our latest friend, Adam Pollock. There is always much room for laughter and friendship amidst the work to be done! Relationships are central to ReACT; its the "Together" in "Reaching African Children Together".
There is much more to say in regards to this trip and the work at hand that I cannot expand on now without writing a novel. For those of you who are the praying types, please continue to ask the Divine to lead us in these things...we desperately need His partnership as well as yours! The coming months will unpack these three projects in this blog and hopefully bring you, our partners, an increased sense of the bridge we are all building together between these two worlds.