As you might imagine, hauling our family of 10 to Kenya produced a lifetime of stories. It’s difficult to know where to start. For now, I’m going to tell you a couple stories about some of our new African friends, because our new African friends are simply amazing.
Meet Ashilly. We ran across Ashilly a couple days into our trip. We recognized her quickly. We recognized her because, over a year ago, my daughter picked out her CRF promo card and stuck it on our fridge. She has been praying for Ashilly since. I’d seen this little girl’s face every time I’d grabbed ice cream (which is more often than I care to admit) for a year. And now, here she was. In person. Surreal. We met some of the women of the church who have sacrificed much to take her in and help her survive. They told us her story. Her story is real. You can read it in the photo below. She’s a survivor.
Meet Victor (right). Some members of the church discovered that Victor had been living on his own in the forest for years. He survived by hunting for remnant charcoal and selling it for food money. Like Ashilly, a few families in the church have sacrificed much to take him in and give him a chance at life. He goes to school now. He’s a survivor.
Meet Alphas and his family. Alphas is sponsored by some of my generous family members. You can see his house in the pictures below. I believe that this hut is shared by 5 people (unless I misunderstood our translator). His family is poor-even by Kenyan standards. His grandmother told us that she lived in fear that he would starve to death–until the day that he became sponsored. Alphas eats and goes to school now. He’s a survivor.
Meet Faith. Faith is the youngest of 7 children of a widowed mother. She is around 9 months old. Having held her, I would bet that she weighs around 10 lbs. Faith is struggling to survive.
Meet Faith’s brother. Though I was told a couple of times, I couldn’t understand his name (their accents made things a bit difficult to decipher sometimes). The first photo is a picture of Abraham, our awesome guide and community pastor, taking the boy’s CRF sponsorship photo to put on a promo card. His promo card will look like Ashilly’s (seen above). The second photo is the other view of that photo session. The sad story on his promo card will be something to the effect of: “He is a malnourished child of a widowed mom of 7 kids. Without sponsorship, his odds of survival are not good. Please consider sponsorship.” I’ve read tons of these promo flyers for kids who need sponsorship. I can no longer callously read the story. I met this child. I met his mom. I met his siblings. He is real.
Every single day in Kenya was an emotional roller coaster. We were overwhelmed by the selfless generosity of people who had nothing and gave us everything. We heart-brokenly held malnourished children who were unlikely to survive. We were humbled by the feeling that we had won the universal lottery by being born in our zip code. We were amazed at the untarnished joy and contentment of kids who have no parents or food, let alone toys or iPods. None of the people pictured above complained about their lot in life. In fact, none of them complained about anything. They’re just happy to be surviving. Meanwhile, here I am, complaining when a restaurant forgets to 86 the onions from my burger. Now, it sounds pretty stupid for me to get all grumpy because a restaurant added more food to my food. Humbling.
When we arrived back in the states, I had a single, three-word question playing on repeat in my head: “So, now what?” It’s a question that my friend Jeff Jackson likes to ask after teaching a lesson. It’s a great question. It forces action rather than contentment with the status quo.
My daughter had the perfect answer to this question before we even left Kenya. She did some math and figured it wouldn’t be too hard for her to earn enough money per month to sponsor a child. She’s 11. She decided to sponsor baby Faith, the malnourished baby girl pictured above whom she is carrying on her back. We’ve been home for 2 weeks. She’s been working her tail off babysitting, watering plants, pulling weeds, and performing various other tasks. She’s already earned enough money to sponsor baby Faith for 6 months. She’s a pretty inspirational 11-year-old.
Dear blog readers: the need in this world is great. In fact, it’s completely overwhelming. I’ll pass along this oft-used quote: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Theresa
I’m asking you to consider helping someone in need. Find an organization that you trust. Find a homeless person. Find a single mom in your church. We chose to partner with Christian Relief Fund to support the wonderful people of the community of Metkei near Eldoret, Kenya. We, of course, would love for you to join us in helping this community through CRF. If you are so inclined, here are a few ways to do so:
For $35 per month, you are helping a child survive. The area of Metkei alone has over 200 children who would benefit from sponsorship. If you want to sponsor a child in this area, contact me or call the CRF office directly.
$500 buys a cow. The church uses the milk from these cows to provide chai (tea + milk) for the needy kids in the area. In case you’re curious, here’s a series of photos showing this process in action: 1) milking the cow (The local women were shocked that the girls in our crew didn’t know how to milk a cow. In their culture, you are unfit to be married if you can’t milk a cow.); 2) the women of the church preparing the chai; 3) the local kids lining up to receive their chai. If you send a check, just write “Metkei cow” in the memo line of a check payable and mailed to “Christian Relief Fund.” If you give online, type “Metkei cow” in the comments section.
$150 is currently enough to buy a chicken house and some chickens. The eggs that these chickens lay can provide food for a family of 5 in addition to an income of approximately $1 per day. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s sustainable income in an economy where many people earn less than $100 per month (as a point of reference, many teachers earn $80 per month). Pictured below is the current chicken house of Alphas’s family (top) and the new chicken house that is being built for them (middle). If you send a check, write “Metkei chickens” in the memo line of a check payable and mailed to “Christian Relief Fund“. If you give online, write it in the comments section.
Again, just write “Metkei” in the memo line of the check payable and mailed to “Christian Relief Fund“. If you give online, write “Metkei” in the comments section. Your money will go toward a weekly feeding program for the kids in the area or to something else that will bless the community. Here’s a photo of the kids being fed. Remember Victor from above–the boy who had been raising himself in the forest? That’s him serving food.
Side notes: 1) If you choose to bless Metkei in one of the ways mentioned above and would like to see your money in action, please let us know. My wife or I will make sure that our friends there get you pictures of your money in action: pictures of your sponsored child or your cow or chickens or food or whatever else.
2) I’m aware that some people don’t give money to charities because they don’t like the idea of their money going to “overhead expenses” rather than directly to children. I get that. We work with CRF because we love how hard they work hard to keep administrative costs low (see their latest numbers here). If the 9% they spend on administration and fundraising bothers you (or if you simply want your donation to have a more direct impact), let us know that you gave money to support our friends in Metkei through CRF and the Wood family will happily send CRF a matching donation of 9%.
Of course, I ask you to pray for this area. God is doing great things in Metkei. Also, pray for your area. Pray for your neighbors. Pray for the homeless in your city. Pray for your church. Pray for God to show you ways to help with any or all of the above. If you can’t give money, give prayer. Give time. Give effort. Give hope.
If you’re so inclined, share this post. We’d love to see all 200+ Metkei kids sponsored. We’d love to see more cows providing milk. We’d love to see more chickens providing eggs. We’d love to see more people praying. We’d love to see more people doing. Thanks!
*disclaimer: In case you are wondering, no member of the Wood family is an employee or representative of Christian Relief Fund. None of us have been paid or compensated in any way for our promotion of Christian Relief Fund. We’re simply fans and supporters of a growing organization based in our hometown of Amarillo, TX that is working hard to change the world.