The year 2013 is seeing many changes develop for the work of ReACT in Kenya. Recently, I have returned from spending two weeks in Kitale, Kenya where our projects are based. Myself, my good friend Dave and his daughter Rayel all travelled and worked together on various aspects of the projects we are involved with.
Among the significant changes this year is the transition out of our partnership with Transformed International (T.I.) and into a more independent role on the ground in Kenya. Since our beginnings in 2005, ReACT has relied upon Daniel Lipparelli and his team in Kenya to manage the various projects on the ground. At the beginning of 2012, T.I. underwent significant changes that led to their decision to no longer continue their ministry in Kitale. While our relationship with Daniel his Board has remained strong and positive, their decision to dissolve T.I. has had an influence on how the work of ReACT will be carried forward from 2013 and onward. Essentially, the Kenyan staff that has worked for T.I. from their start and also carried out the management of ReACT’s projects will now be employed by ReACT instead of T.I.
In some ways, this change is a significantly large change but in another way, the change is minimal. Much of our two weeks in Kitale was filled with tasks such as registering ReACT as a Community Based Organization (C.B.O.), opening bank accounts, transferring the land and buildings donated to ReACT by T.I. (more on that later), meeting with the Kenyan staff, revising our 16 page Policies and Procedures as well as visiting each project both old and new. These changes definitely added to the work we had to do in just two weeks. The wonderful thing that has made this transition significantly less intense than it could have been is the fact that the staff on the ground remains the same. Mark and Anne have managed all of ReACT’s projects for many years and I personally have known Mark for over ten years and Anne for about 7 years. My trust in them is high and I am so delighted to work with such capable and respected Kenyans! Surrounding them on the ground in Kenya is a Leadership Team made up of very capable people both Canadian and Kenyan whose combined experience makes this Team more than able to move the work forward. Like making a shift from second gear to third gear, there is a slight adjustment, but this is necessary for us to move ahead faster and more efficiently than ever before!
In addition to the structural changes mentioned, ReACT has also agreed to take on two of T.I.’s former projects. The Home Based Care Program and the Veronica Home are two additions that will add significant costs to our monthly budget, but we really believe that these projects are reflective of God’s heart. Of course, these are not just new projects but rather they represent children whose hearts we are privileged to come alongside and help in various ways. As I had long conversations with Mark and Anne, I realized afresh just how much their hearts are for these children to have opportunity and hope. Since Mark and Anne have already been managing both of these projects already, the changes are not insurmountable.
The Home Based Care (H.B.C.) program fits wonderfully into the vision of ReACT in creating a cost-effective and culturally relevant means of helping orphans and vulnerable children (O.V.C.’s). This simple approach to O.V.C. care involves coming along side extended families that are willing and capable of caring for O.V.C.’s with some practical support. Rather than taking a child out of their local communities and placing them in a more costly setting, the child lives with their extended family in a familiar home. Our role as ReACT is three fold. First, an assessment is done by Anne, our full-time Kenyan Social Worker to determine the specific needs of the child as well as caregiver. Second, the family is supported through a monthly food/supply drop that enables the extended family to care for the extra child/children in their home. The third role of ReACT is a monthly or bi-weekly Discipleship Class led by Mark Komondi. Mark is a young pastor at heart and having been raised as an orphan is able to relate to the children in a unique way. Mark meets with the children in their homes for a time of mentoring, prayer and worship. As the practical needs of the children and extended families are met, Mark has found an open door for mentoring these children and sharing God’s love with them. As a bird needs two wings to fly effectively, the balance between meeting practical needs and sharing the Gospel go hand in hand for the 55 children in this program. Please pray for open hearts as Mark and Anne work with these children and families and we consider how to sponsor the thirty plus children on a waiting list for this project!
The second project that ReACT has agreed to help facilitate is a home for ten H.I.V. positive children called the Veronica Home. The home is named for the young girl, Veronica that succumbed to HIV just a few years ago. The home is beautifully set on almost one acre beside a public school that provides the education for the children. The children receive daily parental care from the live in parents. These children each have a distinct story that speaks of the stigma associated with living in Africa with H.I.V. The property itself is partly surrounded by mature trees, a vegetable garden, several typical African huts as well as buildings that are used for another project called the “Neema Project”. This Neema Project is a twelve month program that takes former street girls and trains them in such trades as sewing and hairdressing as well as presenting Jesus to them. The buildings consist of a kitchen, office, dorms and several classrooms. While the all property and buildings are officially under the care of ReACT, the Neema Project is funded and run by some friends in Pennsylvania. We are excited about both the Veronica Home and the Neema Project and if anyone would like further information on either of these, we will be pleased to direct you accordingly!
As you can tell, we are moving through several changes with much to be thankful for as well as much that we need Jesus’ wisdom and intervention for. If I am honest, I can tell you that these last few weeks have been somewhat overwhelming but we are confident that all of the projects we are working with are a work of God that He has simply allowed us to be a part of. We are incredibly grateful for you, our partners in this work and whether you partner financially, thorough encouragement and/or prayer we are very aware that none of this would be possible without you by our side. I know that many of you sacrifice personally and work extra shifts to be able to give to these children and for that the children that you serve say “asante”!