When the kids close school, many of them want to see their parents. Some kids go home for a few weeks to spend time with their families and others prefer to just visit a bit and then head back to Precious Kids Center.
With the last term of the school year quickly approaching I loaded up Hillary, Pascal and Japheth to pay their parents a visit. These visits are always interesting. Some children are at the house just because their parents are too sick or simply don’t have the resources to be able to care for them properly, but love their children. Other parents are indifferent towards their children, have other personal struggles and have never been able to provide the support that children need from their parents.
The first stop we made was to visit Pascal and Japheth’s mother, Rose. Pascal came to us about a year and a half ago off of the streets of Kitale. His father had died when he was about 8 years old, leaving her to struggle to provide for her seven children on her own. Pascal told me that he left home to fend for himself in town after his mother could no longer afford for him to go to school.
Rose called us a few months ago saying that she was in the hospital and would like us to come visit her. When we got there she told us that she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. After she left the hospital we kept visiting every Saturday and noticed that she was getting weaker and weaker each time. She began Chemotherapy and has been really hard on her system, making her very weak and causing her to be in a lot of pain. Her youngest child, Japeth, is seven years old. Rose was struggling to take him to school and even cook meals for him once she became sick. We went one afternoon to visit and after seeing the situation knew that we couldn’t leave him there. Japheth is doing great at the house and is such a joyful little boy. It’s fun to see Pascal care for his little brother the same was as he cares for the other kids at the house.
When we got to the house we all sat and chatted with Rose. We talked about her latest trip to the doctor and she told me that they want to transfer her to another hospital in Uganda because her cancer has progressed to the point where she can no longer be treated at their facility. While we were talking Pascal made some tea for the kids that we brought along with us and bought some bananas for them to eat then came and sat by his mom and caught her up on everything he’d done in the last week. Rose told both of the boys to keep working hard in school and that she was proud of them.
I told Rose that even with Pascal back at school, we will continue stopping by to see how she is doing. She is such a joyful woman who lights up when she gets to see her children. Please keep her in your prayers and pray that the doctors will find a treatment that will help her.
The next stop was to visit Hillary’s mom. This visit was very unlike the first one. I’ve known Hillary for about four years and he has just recently opened up about his past. He started living on the streets of Kitale when he was only five years old. His father had passed away the year before, leaving him with his mother who is an alcoholic. He told me that she used to abuse him and lock him in their house alone all night while she went to go drink. One day she forgot to lock the window and he ran away. He’s gone about two years without seeing her and has recently showed an interest in reconnecting with her so we stopped by.
Hillary was excited to see her when we first arrived and then became nervous and uneasy. I think that in his head, this reunion was going to go much differently than it did. She was drunk and in the few minutes we were there, watching how she was treating her son, my heart broke for Hillary. I can’t imagine what this boy has been through if that was how his mother treated him while people were watching. Her words were not kind and she kept bringing up things from the past that it seemed like Hillary had been trying to forget. She began scolding him and then burst into tears asking him to forgive her in the same sentence. It was obvious that she has also had a lot of pain and hurt in her life. She drinks to numb her pain, but can’t see that it is adding to her struggles and hindering her from having a relationship with her son.
Hillary is a tough kid. He’s ran away from school and the house so many times that we had a system and he knew exactly what to do if he wanted to come back. He’s short tempered, stubborn and after all those years of living on his own does not like being told what to do. He also has a great big heart and it’s been great to see him changing as he realizes that he is loved.
When we got home I walked up and simply asked if he was ok. He didn’t say anything, but looked at me with tears in his eyes. I told him how proud I was of him for how far he has come in the past few years. I told him how proud I was that he hasn’t run away once this year. I told him how proud I was to see that he is working on his quick temper and didn’t start one fight during this last break. I told him how proud I was of him for doing well in school and not getting in trouble there. I told him that I loved watching him be a big brother to the other kids at the house. I reminded him that I love him and that no matter what he does that won’t change and he’s stuck with me. He gave me a quick little smile and then in classic teenage boy style ran off to get his dinner and eat with the other boys.
It’s not always easy finding ways to get through to kids that have been through so much trauma in their short lives. Or preparing kids for dealing with the traumas that may come up along the way. I am grateful for the good and the difficult moments with these children. It’s through overcoming these difficult moments that I see God developing their characters and preparing them for whatever is in store for their futures. I know I’ve said it a million times, but I am so proud and blessed to be on this journey with them. I pray that they will continue to feel God’s love and power in their lives and that they continue to find refuge and comfort in His love.