Maxwell Adventist Academy has a yearly trip to hike up mount Kenya. School goes off on a Thursday evening and reopens on the following Tuesday evening. I had the chance to go with the school on that trip, but after hearing that one of my friend was going to volunteer at an SDA orphanage in a village about 4 hours away from Nairobi I was in a dilemma. Working in an orphanage was one of the experiences I always wanted to have and hiking up mount Kenya is probably a lifetime chance. After some prayer and looking at the school calendar I realized that if I don’t use this break to go to the orphanage, I probably wouldn’t have another chance to go. So without hesitation, I decided to volunteer for 5 days at Ian Castleman Orphanage.
|Yes! We made it.|
Ian Castleman Orphanage is not in Nairobi or anywhere near there. It’s in a village that is about 50 minutes away from a town called Nakuru, which is about two and a half hours away from Nairobi. To get there, Violetta (a close friend of mine) and I decided to take matatus, public microbuses, to experience more of the culture and how the people live on a daily bases. And sure enough, we had an experience! When we arrived to the matatu station in Nairobi we bought our tickets and waited for an hour for the matatu to arrive. Once it arrived it took us about two and a half hours to arrive to Nakuru. Then we faced the challenge of trying to find another matatu to take up to the village. When we asked some of the locals who were there, they told us the station is not nearby and that we had to walk or take a taxi to reach there. It was hard to walk with five bags and a box full of project for the kids, and we didn’t have enough money to take a taxi. Well, guess what? God answered the prayer that we did not even pray. To everyone’s surprise the matatu that never passes through the station where we were at, passed just when we needed it. Not only that, but it seems that everyone we got in contact with through out our trip was very helpful. All the sudden I found the taxi drivers leaving their taxies, picking up our luggage, placing it in the back of the matuatu and telling, “Go. Go. This is the matatu you need”. I felt like a brand new SM who slowly discovers how God works in small details of a person’s life.
|The sewing machine was broken so we had to sew everything by hand|
When we arrived to the orphanage I was stunned. Kenya has a lot of orphanages but this one is very different. The orphanage has more than 140 orphans; many of them are disable and about 10 are HIV Positive. After hearing a lot of the stories about the kids I felt like I could not handle anymore. The stories and the situations the kids were in broke my heart. To be honest with you, it took me two days to get use to the place I was at. Over all I really enjoyed my time there and I had a beautiful experience. I spent a lot of time playing with the kids, leading worships, sewing clothes, and even teaching the 7th grade Algebra and CRE (Christian Religious Education).
Here are some of the stories that really touched me.
Emmanuel is a disable child who came to the orphanage with his mom. His mom pleaded to work as a career at the orphanage so she can have some income and take care of her disabled boy at the same time. After 8 months of work, the woman ran away leaving her child behind. The director of the orphanage told me that he hasn’t seen her for 18 months since then.
Elisha Ian Castleman:
Elisha was found under a tree covered in mud, with his placenta still attached to his body. He was immediately taken to the hospital and after recovering he was taken to the orphanage. The director of the orphanage held him in his hand when he was only 2 hours old. The OCS (Office of Commanding Situations) found Elisha’s mother. She was arrested for attempted murder. When asked to defense her case, the mother said that the father of the baby left her and when she realized that she couldn’t raise the child up she decided to leave him under a tree.
Joseph has a problem with his spinal cord, which affects his back and brain. A lady who pretended to be a poor neighbor of the mother brought him to the orphanage. After the little boy was accepted, the directors discovered that the lady who brought him was his own mother.
This girl has the most interesting story of all. A story I would only see in movies such as Tarzan. While some women were collecting some firewood around the fences of a game park, they saw a child with some baboons. They then rushed to the child care office and reported the story. The baby was taken outside the park and immediately to Elburgon Hospital that is about 4 miles away from the orphanage. Doctors reported that the baby was seven years old when she was brought out of the game park. It was also assumed that the baby was left with the baboons before she was one year old and that is why the baboons considered her their own child. Charity was breast fed by a baboon, which cause her to grow baboon hair all over her body. Charity is now in the orphanage doing a lot better. She still has some baboon hair on her back. However, it’s slowly going away. She is still in kindergarten and when she screams, it sounds just like a monkey. I heard her say one word the whole time I was there. It was: “Thank you”. Just hearing this word coming out her mouth made my day! I believe that one day she’ll act just like a normal human being acts.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15. I read this verse so many times but I never really realized the deep meaning it holds. It was just so hard to imagine a woman leaving her won child. I never though that I would actually hear true stories of women who have no compassion on their children. However the Bible itself tells us that they will forget, but He will never forget us. Praise God for Ian Castleman Orphanage and all the people who serve there. God has not forgotten all these children who were forgotten by their biological parents. He sent other people who can be their parents, take care of them, and show them His unconditional love. And I had the privilege to work with these people for 5 days.