I don’t know first hand, but I think for any former addict every day must be full of challenges. For our kids, the struggle to overcome the urge to sniff glue and smoke opium; to keep moving forward and never give in. And when each day must seem so long, a year is a very long time. That’s why I am extremely proud of each and every child here. I am also proud to say that today, June 26th 2014, marks the one-year anniversary from the day Arrive rescued the first 15 street boys from the streets and brought them home.
There is nobody begging these kids to stay. They can either take this opportunity they were given, or leave it. There are long days, lots of work, and tough times. There are fights, struggles, and outbreaks of bad behavior. But there are also tons of laughs, bonding moments, and daily momentous improvements. There is food, a warm bed every night, education, and a bright future. After all, we are still a family even if our dinner table is a bit bigger than most!
Don’t you love the feeling of jumping into warm pajamas? Well, it’s a feeling that not a single one of our kids have ever experienced until today! Besides slaughtering a goat and having a family feast of roasted and boiled goat meat (a delicacy in Kenya), a variety of soda, and a dessert of cake and lollipops, the childrens’ big gift today is a pair of their very own pajamas. For all of the children, it is the first pair they have ever worn. The middle school students of Pockets of Hope have once again stepped up to make the lives of our kids better; this time by fundraising and sending money to buy each child here a brand new pair of comfy, fuzzy, cozy pajamas. If you think nights on the equator never get cold, try sleeping at 7,004 ft above sea level…
This past year has been unforgettable. Here it was by the numbers:
365: Days since the original 15 street boys were rescued and brought to the Keumbu Rehema Childrens Home by Arrive. Also the numbers of days Pastor Robert and Mama Terry have cared for these children like their own sons and daughters.
317: Days of school and/or classes. Even on school break, Arrive hires teachers to come to our home for morning classes. Kids who couldn’t read can now read and write. Kids who couldn’t speak English can now have conversations in it. Kids who couldn’t add 1+1 can now divide fractions. Most importantly, kids who were discouraged or scared of education now know they have the power to succeed and be self-empowered for the future.
280: Marshmallows (combined) consumed by all of the children during the night we made S’mores. The number would have soared into the thousands if the supply of marshmallows hadn’t run out.
100: Percent of former street children who have improved their academic position in their respective classes since being rescued by Arrive.
45: Hours, per month, per child, saved by our running water system. This equals to 540 hours (22.5 days) per year per child, or a staggering combined 16,200 hours (675 days) for all the children in one year.
30: Number of boys and girls living at the Keumbu Rehema Childrens Home.
26: International volunteers and visitors who have been welcomed to the Keumbu Rehema Childrens Home. They have come from 8 different countries on 5 different continents (Africa, North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia).
14: Chocolate bars I keep on hand incase anybody needs an emergency chocolate fix. Does it matter if that “anybody” is always me?
9: Number of the original 15 street boys living with us today. They are: Enock “TanoTano,” Duke, Evans “Siginia,” Nicolas, Daniel “Mrefu,” Astarico, Brian “Kichwa,” Melikzadek, and David “Semenega.” It should be noted that 4 of the original 15 boys have returned to live with their parents or relatives.
8: Tribes from which we have rescued orphans and street children. They are: Kisii, Maasai, Kalengin, Luo, Kuria, Luyha, Giriama, and Kikuyu.
4: Number of the original 15 street boys who have returned to live with their parents or relatives. Sometimes a few months of being sober and in school is all it takes to get these kids back on the right track. If we can effectively solve whatever problem caused them to flee to the streets in the first place, therefore successfully rehabilitate a child and return him/her to their relatives, it is an enormous accomplishment. This opens up space at our home to help even more children in dire need.
2: Years Fred has been off the street. While many are celebrating their one-year anniversary, Fred is celebrating his second.
1: Organizations that do what we do, how we do it. Arrive!
Maybe the best recap of this past year is in the form of a song sung by a boy named Justin. Justin is 14 years old and was a street boy who has a passion for music. After living at the Keumbu Rehema Childrens Home for five months, he was ready to move back home with his mom and siblings. We were able to find his mother and solve the deep-rooted issues that forced him to the street, enabling him to return home. Since leaving the streets Justin has remained sober, in school, and happy. During his time here, Justin always wanted to express himself musically. So, before leaving to live with his family, I took Justin (a.k.a. Justo) and two other girls (Daisy and Deborah) from our home to a music studio to record an original song he had written. Tumsifu means “let us respect him” and below is the final product – just press the “play” button to listen!
Cheers to a hugely successful and exciting year, and to an even better year ahead!
Tumsifu – Justo [The song is sung in Swahili. The lyrics below are the English translation.] Justo! We are not going back to the streets again. Justo! Chorus Friends, Let us respect God. He has remembered us. We are not going back to the streets again. Friends, Let us respect God. He has remembered us. We are not going back to the streets again. Verse 1 We didn’t have good food. We used to sleep under wooden stands. We slept on the ground. We used to live but a very bad life. People think it is fine, But it was difficult. We used to arrive at our homes, And we were chased away. Then we go back to the streets. On the streets we would stay, And we returned to smoking opium. Chorus Verse 2 If I die, what is the problem? But living, I will live. Many people think we lived good lives. But it’s no life that can please someone. Now we have found a good place. If it means eating, we eat well. Sleeping, we sleep well. We go to school as students. Other people make fun of us, But we have decided we will learn. One day when I finish school, I will live the life I’ve always wanted. God, help me. These days I am a good child, I stay with other kids, and there are no problems. Our God, I will live with you, I will praise you. I live with you, I live with you, I live with you. Help me not to be a street child ever again. Chorus