The past ten days have been a whirlwind; they’ve gone by in a blink of an eye, yet have felt like a lifetime. Volunteers Jon and Lauren impacted the lives of the kids here at home and this blog post is a mere attempt to show how.
They completed two large projects here on the ground. Each project was thought of and planned by them. The first was a stone, brick, and cement walkway stretching from the fish pond, to the girls’ dorm, to the volunteer house, to the main house. Previously, the path way a thin muddy walkway where kids and adults routinely would slip and fall due to the steepness and mud. Now, complete with retaining walls and a veranda, this path creates a walkway to avoid mud even during the rainy season – saving the kids hours every week washing their shoes and using sticks to remove the caked, dried mud. Furthermore, it now allows Arrive to one day rescue a child who may need a wheelchair – the path is the only cemented, smooth way to move around the property. This project will have a long-lasting impact for the kids and future volunteers here in Nyaturubo.
Secondly, they built a bike shed and bought bicycles for the kids. Bicycles are invaluable because besides being fun, in third world countries, a simple bicycle can mean going to school, seeing a doctor…or not. As a bike mechanic and experienced rider myself, I am teaching the kids to take apart, put back together, and fix every problem on the bikes. Learning to repair bicycles is yet another life skill that the kids can use in their futures.
Jon and Lauren took the kids on a night out in Kisii to eat pizza (a massive treat), made s’mores by the campfire, cooked brownies, took a few kids on safari to Maasai Mara, and took part in so many other fun activities. Everyday was a new adventure. When Jon bought a cow (here in East Africa there are cow markets), we slaughtered it and had a 60 person feast. All of the children have been eating beef, a delicacy here, for dinner every night since. For those who want to see a photo, click here, but be warned that it is graphic. However, for Leonida, Casper, and James, the volunteers’ stay was life changing in a different way.
Leonida has stayed with us for quite some time and has even been mentioned in previous blog posts. While her nickname around the house in Princess, her eyes have had issues (loss of vision, glazed over, extreme redness, and more) since arriving here. No doctor has been able to figure out the cause or solution. Lauren researched, talked to doctors from her home, took photos of Leonida’s eyes, and brought her to the only optometrist within hundreds of miles of our home. Now Leonida has the right medicine and her eyes are healing by the day. Better vision along with decreased itching, scratching, and negative long-term effects (like the likeliness of going blind) has left Leonida in a happier state of sight and mind.
Last week, Casper and James were both homeless, glue-huffing street children. Casper, a bit older (around 13 years old), had been living in the street for two years. Every night he slept outside and would search for bits of metal scrapes to sell for fractions of a cent to have enough money to eat. As Jon, Lauren, and I were surrounded by a group of begging street children in Kisii, all saying “Please take me home, please take me to school,” I gave them a proposal – to show us they were serious. Instead of buying toxic glue to huff that night, Casper bought a notebook and pen. He wrote a few math problems and a short, three-sentence autobiography. But it was more than enough to show us that he truly wanted an opportunity to come home.
James, a bit younger (around eight years old), had recently been chased to the street after his mother ran away from her abusive husband. That same husband, James' father, beat
James everyday so bad that he has scars all over his head and body from where his father hit him. He was forced to run away to the streets but found life just has hard there - James was also beaten in the street by older street boys. One boy even burned James’ ear with hot coal; a wound which created open, bloody sores on his ear which are now healing here at home.
Because of Casper’s actions and James’ incredibly horrific situation, Jon and Lauren were determined to bring them to Arrive’s Keumbu Rehema Childrens Home. Through fundraising, personal funds, and family and friends, they were able to raise enough money to rescue both Casper and James from their lives in the street. Now they are both happy and grateful – eating, sleeping, and living well for the first time in a long while. Imagine how you would feel if, for the first time in two years, you slept in a bed, on a mattress, with blankets, sure that your next meal will be there, and not afraid of being beaten unconscious for no reason?!? Casper and James have truly been given a second chance at life.
This short post only begins to describe the many incredible acts that Jon and Lauren accomplished during their stay with Arrive. I encourage you to check out their own person blog by clicking here to learn more about Casper, James, Leonida, and all of the other life-changing projects they achieved in such a short time here. We are thankful for their energy and enthusiasm, and although their stay with us was short, it has left a hugely positive mark on our home and our children.