• Posted by Meghan on 17 Dec 2012

Since Grace will be 11 months next week, it seemed like we ought to go ahead and do a post about her being 10 months! Poor third child… 😉

Grace is busy spending her time chasing Eden and crawling away from Andy. She’s pretty quick and when she really wants to pour on the speed she ducks her head down and crawls so fast! She has pretty much dropped her third nap, taking a very long afternoon nap instead. And she has been sleeping through the night without a an early morning feeding for a little over a week. That means she’s sleeping 12 hours straight which is good for all of us!

Gracie has caught another cold, but doesn’t seem too bothered by it. She is still eating well and really likes the squeeze packs because she can feed herself with them. We love them because they are easy to travel with and don’t require a spoon! Grace’s front two teeth are finally coming in and we’re very happy that her fangs won’t be quite so prominent.

We recently had friends staying with us and Grace was really interested in their baby. She loved to pull herself up on the baby swing to peek at him or crawl over and stare at him on the floor. She was even nice about crying sympathetically when he cried.

We’re looking forward to Grace’s first Christmas and her first birthday which will be here soon!

  • Posted by Meghan on 16 Dec 2012

Sarah is six years old and Mercy is fourteen. They are not related, but their stories are the same. Both girls were sexually abused by their fathers over the course of several years. They both came to the shelter through the rape center.

Sarah is not attending school because there isn’t money for her tuition. Mercy just received funding and will start school at the beginning of the next term! Please pray for these girls as they continue to recover from the trauma of being abused and removed from their homes and for Mercy as she begins school in the new year.

  • Posted by Meghan on 20 Nov 2012

Note: Some of the details about these kids lives are hard to read, but I want to be honest about the things that children at the shelter are dealing with.

I first met Miriam in 2009 at the Sally Test Pediatric Center. At the time, she was an 8 year old who seemed very special to the staff, and I noticed she spent a lot of time at the center, more than most other children. She loved Eden and would help take care of her at night when I was home. I often found her carrying Eden through the wards to the Sally Test Center in the morning when I arrived at the hospital. As I began spending more time there with Eden, I learned more about Miriam’s story.

At the end of 2007, elections took place in Kenya which led to extreme violence across the country. Tribes clashed and over 800 people were killed in a little more than a month, and 60,000 people were displaced from their homes. Ben and I are proud and honored to know several people (Kenyans and Americans) that stayed in Eldoret and risked their lives to save many others. Eldoret (where we met Eden and where we live when we go to Kenya) was hit very hard by the violence following the elections. In a church, 200 people were hiding and rebels locked the doors and set the church on fire, burning between 40 and 80 people to death.

Miriam’s family lived about 2 hours west of Eldoret. During the night while they slept, Miriam’s home was set on fire. She and her two year old sister escaped through a window, but her parents burned to death in their home. A good samaritan found the girls and drove them to the hospital in Eldoret. Miriam’s sister died shortly after they arrived at the hospital. Miriam had burns on over 80% of her body.

For two years, Miriam lived at the hospital. She had multiple surgeries at different hospitals and was cared for by the people at the Sally Test Center. She bathed there, kept her personal belongings there and was a good helper with the other children. When I heard about what had happened to Miriam, I was shocked! She had so much joy, loved to dance, was so sweet with the other kids and liked to take care of the babies that were there. I could not believe that a child who had endured so much could even have the strength to get out of bed, let alone dance, sing, carry babies and love the staff. Here is a picture of Miriam (and a boy named Collins) from 2009. This was about 1 1/2 years after Miriam’s home was burned.

Since that time, Miriam has moved to the Amani shelter. She lives there when she’s not at her boarding school and is a leader among the family that the children have created together. She is very caring and still very sweet. I was reunited with Miriam when we returned to Eldoret in 2011. The IU Compound hosts an Easter party for the children that live at the Amani shelter and that was the first time I had seen Miriam since 2009. She looked so wonderful and seemed so much more confident! I was so glad to hug her and hear how well she was doing.

I was able to see Miriam several times while we lived in Eldoret, and it was fun to see her continued progress. She is currently waiting for a surgery on her scalp that doctors hope will help her hair to grow again on the half of her head that was burned while escaping from her home. Here is a more updated picture of Miriam from the Easter party.

Miriam’s school is already paid for, but if you want to help support her in other ways, such as buying her Christmas gifts, or buying supplies or food for the shelter, please email me or comment on the website and I can help you.

  • Posted by Meghan on 15 Nov 2012

Today my mom sent me a picture of Eden from just after we brought her home from the hospital. It was taken almost exactly 3 years ago, just before Thanksgiving in 2009. Recently our church recognized Orphan Sunday and I am so thankful that Eden is no longer an orphan, but I can’t help but think of all of the children that are still waiting for a mother and father at the children’s homes we often visited.

There is one particular place that I think of often. It’s called the Amani Shelter and was originally created as a place for abused women to recover after a stay at the hospital until they could go home. Before long, women would come to the shelter with their children and after several of the women died, the children remained at Amani. Today, the Amani Shelter cares for abused women and children as well as orphaned children and is run by Florence and Happiness, two of the most faithful, caring and committed women you could ever meet.

While Ben and I were in Kenya in 2011, several people pitched in to donate money to the Amani Shelter. We asked Florence and Happiness what the shelter needed and their list included flour, bread, meat, bowls and cups, as well as an umbrella for the guard and rain coats and boots for them because they walk to work and in the rainy season walk in the rain. At the time there were 4 women (one woman whose husband had stabbed her eyes out when he found out she was pregnant), an infant and 11 children living there. The house that is Amani Shelter is 4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and a barn out back for the chickens (which is also where the occasional men stay when they are residents at the shelter).

I wish I could describe to you the disparity between the needs that the individuals have and the hope and joy that they exhibit. The kids there are far more satisfied than my children ever are and many of them have never had the things that we would consider necessities.

I’ve been feeling convicted about the way we left Kenya behind when we came back to the US. We have become self-focused and slipped quickly back into the pursuit of the “American dream”, rather than continuing to care for and support causes and people that we came to love while there. I’m hoping that as we head into a busy time of year, focused on buying, gift giving and receiving, traveling and frivolous spending, that our family, and maybe yours as well, would take time to remember the people that have nothing.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share stories of some of the children at the Amani shelter. I’m also going to ask you to consider what you might be able to do to help the kids there. Some ideas are to donate money to the shelter to help them buy basic supplies (this could be a one time donation, or monthly support), give money for Christmas gifts (Javan, an employee at the IU compound, takes the kids shopping each year), or pay to send a child to school (this is a multiple year commitment). If you have an interest in joining us to support the Imani Shelter in some way, please let me know and I’ll help you make it happen.

  • Posted by Meghan on 29 Oct 2012

Grace has entered such a fun stage! She’s been very busy changing and growing over the last month. Grace continues to be very mobile and loves to chase Eden and Andy. She likes to play peek-a-boo with towels and blankets and waves and also said her first word, “hi”! Now she loves to wave and say “hi” any time she sees someone for the first time (like when the kids wake up from their naps or Ben comes home) and she likes to wave when she is being carried out of a room.

Gracie is pulling up on everything and has let go a couple of times for just an instant. She is eating more solid foods and has had tiny bits of hotdog, puffs, yogurt guys, bread, cheese and a few other things. She demands more solid foods now, but still eats a little bit of baby food as well.

Grace had her 9 month check up today and was 28 inches long and weighed 15 lbs, 15 oz. Grace seems to look more and more like Andy, but she’s MUCH smaller. Andy weighed slightly more than Grace does now when he was 3 months!

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