Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why the New Life Home Orphanages in Kenya?

You may ask... why raise money and support for the New Life Homes in Kenya? What is so different about the New Life Homes than any other orphanage?

The New Life Homes are not typical African orphanages. Spread across Kenya in six different homes, the babies and children in the homes are treated like family, given professional medical treatment, and taught to become positive, contributing members of society. Contagious hope overflows from the homes, shining a light in the often bleak outlook for over 2.2 million orphans in Kenya.

While volunteering in the New Life Homes in the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to work in the legal and social work department of the New Life Homes. One of the roles of the social worker is to rescue abandoned children and bring them to the New Life Homes. One afternoon, Sylvia, the social worker in the Kisumu orphanage, was asked to come to the District Children’s Office to collect a small girl found abandoned in a bush in a village outside of Kisumu. I traveled with Sylvia to rescue the baby, to hold and feed her while Sylvia navigated the bumpy Kenyan roads. The baby was broken and hungry after suffering neglect and abuse from her mother, who was most likely a single girl afraid of the social, political, and economic consequences due to the strong cultural stigmas associated with having a child out of wedlock. After four hours of holding the child while visiting police stations, hospitals, and the district children’s office to collect her necessary paperwork and medical records, we returned to the New Life Homes exhausted as the sun set. The child was in need of immediate medical condition, so we rushed her upstairs to Prisca, a registered Kenyan nurse and the director of the New Life Home Kisumu. Immediately, Prisca took the child into her arms and whispered to her softly, “Beautiful girl, you are home now. This is your home, and we are your family, where you are loved. We will call you Betsy, meaning ‘my God is a vow,’ for we vow to love you and care for you always, forever here or in a new home. Betsy, welcome home, you are loved.”

Betsy is just one example of how the New Life Homes are a unique and miraculous place. Not only do the Homes treat the children like family, but the Orphanages are setting precedents for the care and treatment of orphaned children across East Africa. For example, the New Life Homes prioritize the rescue of HIV-positive babies, for the Homes have the medical capacity to treat HIV-positive children so that 75-90% become HIV-negative within a few months of arriving at the Homes.

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