There are currently 38 children at the United Hope children’s home. But that number changes frequently. About 6 or 7 of the children have a living parent, usually the mother, who is widowed. I’ve heard it many times. The story of a mother who lost her husband to illness, violence, tragedy, and she is left alone to care for her children. She used to manage the home while the husband was working. She would take care of the children, spend her day bent over a bucket or bent over the muddy creek, washing laundry by hand, hunched over sweeping the dirt floors with a short band of sticks tied together, she would trek through the fields and hills gathering fire wood to cook dinner on, and more. And then they are left widowed. And there is no one bringing in money for food, for school fees, for anything. So then, these mommas go and try to find work in the local rice fields or tries to sell some items by the side of the road, and they don’t make much. They make enough to eat maybe one meal a day, sometimes one meal every few days. And that also means the children have no school fees, so they are the ones at home doing the washing and cleaning and gathering. So these 6 or 7 children at United Hope are a result of the moms desperately asking United Hope to care for their children while they try to get on their feet. But then the large majority of these children are total orphans. 31 total orphans. Meaning that they have no living parents. Many of them lost their parents during the post-election violence and riots, many of their parents died, while other children don’t know what happened to their parents, they never found them, rather they died in the violence, or ran and later weren’t able to find their children in the mess. Other times they left town searching for work and never returned. Other children are orphaned due to things mentioned above, illness, violence, and tragedy. Commonly they die after being sick and not affording medical care, most commonly malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis and HIV/aids. Often we hear that the father was abusive or didn’t want the burden of providing for the family.There is such a variety of stories. But the result is that there are now 38 children living at United Hope.
Since becoming a mom myself, I have gained a new perspective on these children. I have loved these children, but now I love them more. I want to love them more. I want to love them and treat them as if they were my own. As Keelyn’s parents, we will provide for Keelyn whatever he needs. He will eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks or juice in between. He will go to school and get an education. I will sit down and help him with his homework and make sure he understands it. He will go to the doctor when he is sick. And when he gets home from the doctor, his mommy will love on him and cuddle him to make him feel better. If he falls and gets hurt, I will scoop him up and kiss his boo boo and make it all better. If his feelings get hurt, I will comfort him and encourage him. If his mosquito net is torn, he will get a new one because I don’t want him to get malaria. I will lather him down with bug spray in the evenings. If he’s out grown his shoes and his heels hang off the back of his sandals, I will buy him some new shoes. I will make sure that the water he drinks is clean and that he eats healthy nutritious meals. I will buy him little toys and games and suckers and popcorn for a couple extra smiles a day. Daddy will get out and play soccer and whiffle ball with him. And most importantly, we will teach him about God, about Jesus, about becoming a follower of Christ, and I will always pray for him, every day. And daddy and I will pray aloud over him and teach him how to pray, too. And we shed tears for him. Why? Because I am his mommy. And Tim is his daddy. Isn’t that what we do for our children?
What about these children that have no mommy or daddy? Yeah, I know the Bible says that God is the father to the fatherless. But as Christians, aren’t we the body of Christ? Doesn’t God use us to be his hands and feet to be the father to the fatherless? The Bible lists many times about caring for the orphans, providing justice for the orphans, taking up their cause, etc. (James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17, Hosea 14:3, Psalm 10:18, Psalm 82:3, Jeremiah 22:3) These children don’t have a mom or a dad there to care for them and provide for them, not the way that we care for Keelyn. Not the way that you care for and provide for your children. And I want them to have that, and they deserve that. Gosh, they deserve it! Don’t you think so?
So apart from other parts of our ministry, this has become one of my biggest missions. To be an advocate for these kids. To be sure that they are loved, to be sure that they are provided for, to be sure that they are taught about the love of Jesus Christ pray for them to become followers, just like I do for my own child. They are our children, too. They are your children, too.
I am very thankful that we had enough donations a few weeks ago to buy the kids all new mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets. We also have a monthy sponsor who provides fish once a week, and newly a sponsor for toilet paper and toothpaste!!! I am excited about this. Our kids ate all their toothpaste the first day we gave it to them back in august last year. So when we bought it for them again, we made sure they knew how to use it, and not eat it. But often now, the kids do without toothpaste, simply because food is more important, and money is prioritized to the bigger needs. Same for the toilet paper. The kids usually use old notebook pages from school for toilet paper. But now they will have soft toilet paper for their tooshies. And they will have toothpaste to put on their toothbrushes! But there is still a long list of things. The kids only have hot tea for breakfast. And thankful to have the small portioned meals for lunch and dinner. But we would love to add meat to their diet. As of now, the only meat they get is the small fish once a week. But we would love to give them some beef or chicken at least once a week, too. Also give them some bread and fruit for breakfast. Well I won’t list everything, but if you are interested, please please, check out the tab up top that says “Support” and then click on “Sponsor a project, item, or staff” for a list of things and estimated amount.
And for those that don’t know! We are going to build housing for the kids! Eventually, anyways. We still need your help. It is estimated to cost between $50,000-70,000 dollars. We are very thankful for support from our home church of over $11,000! God is so awesome and I am thankful he is using the people at New Hope to provide for His children. But we still have quite a long ways to go! Tim and I were feeling overwhelmed there for a while, and we said, well we know if this happens, it’s only God’s doing!! Because there is no way we could ever do it! But that’s the way it’s supposed to be because he is the one that will receive all the glory for it!! But please don’t forget that these are your kids. Think of it this way…. If you and your spouse were to pass away, wouldn’t you want someone to love your kids like they are their own? Providing for your children everything they need?
We love you all and are grateful for your love and support and prayers. Always.
Tim and Jenni