The boys are back to Ahadi, safe and sound, and most are back to school, except three who are now living with relatives and still need to find a high school. Some of our boys had quite an adventure getting back from stays with relatives over Christmas break, because the government suddenly cancelled all night transport in public vehicles, so there was a log-jam of people needing to get back to work and school, and not enough vehicles to bring them. They also hiked the fares, more than doubling, in some cases. Five of our boys arrived in Nairobi from western Kenya, and got stranded, unable to come any further because so many people were waiting for vehicles, and it got dark. Ahadi is about 30 miles outside of Nairobi. My car wouldn’t start, and the social worker was far away at the time. Thankfully, one of our alumni found a taxi for them and sweet-talked the driver into bringing them for the amount of money I had available that night–$40 (Ksh. 3,500).
We are so grateful for many large donations that came in at the end of the year so we were able to cater for extra fares and also pay school fees, and even get out of debt to the emergency fund. What a nice feeling. We need continued help to stay “in the black.” We have an amazing God and amazing supporters. Thank you so much–each one who give regularly as well as those who give a boost when they can.
NEW REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
I finally was able to get a copy of the new standards since, until now, I was going by a few verbal directives. The only copies available are owned by the District Children’s Officers, so I paid to have them photocopied. There are 93 pages! In their effort to make sure the children are kept safe and well-taken care of, they have set really high standards that I doubt if many children’s homes can afford, but it’s certainly a nice set of goals to work towards. We will need to employ more support personnel (certified accountant, counselling psychologist, nurse—at least one on call, and trained day-time security guard) and re-organize our board to include legal personnel and even an Ahadi child. Of course, all these new requirements for employees mean more monthly salaries. I am determined not to worry about it (after I worried, and saw it didn’t do any good). God is in control. We will need more equipment and furniture like more lockable filing cabinets, scales for measuring height and weight, a camera to take the required many, many photos, lots and lots of various record books for all the reports and paperwork we are expected to generate. It’s pretty overwhelming—but I admit, lots of good ideas. Key words are “BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD” (BIC). I am in the process of facilitating the training of the management from all the nearby children’s homes since we all have much to learn and many changes we need to make. I admire those who drafted the standards for their concern for vulnerable children, while at the same time I am thinking it’s almost impossible. Please pray as we take many steps to comply. When the going gets tough, the tough get going (even though they feel a little sick and would like to run away).
CASE IN POINT–RECONCILIATION
From the time a boy enters a Charitable Children’s Institution (CCI), there must be a plan in mind for him to exit–to get into a family environment (hopefully a relative) as soon as possible. This is supposed to happen within 3 years, maximum, after receiving the child unless we can prove it to be impossible. About 3 years ago, I was told to come to court and take a run-away boy named Joshua, around 8 years old, who was in the cells, having been picked up by the police. There was no food in this rural home. His dad was unemployed and crippled, so Joshua had made his way to the nearest big town to beg.
I choked back the tears as he was marched into the courtroom, dirty and without shoes, mixed in with the adult criminals he had spent the night with. The magistrate had been introduced to me before the court session, so she told the boy to go sit next to me. That’s how we “met.” You can’t talk in court, so there was no chance to get acquainted. I just smiled and found a scrap of paper in my bag to start sketching some funny people and animals, to put his mind at ease (not sure he could tell if they were funny people and animals). After some time, his name was called, and I was asked if I was willing to take him into custody and be his guardian. I agreed, and that was it. Out of the courtroom we walked and then signed some papers at the office of the District Children’s Officer’s. I, sadly, have not been able to learn Swahili, despite many attempts at class, tutoring, listening to tapes, flash cards, etc. So, I took him to the outdoor market almost in silence except for a few Swahili phrases I remembered, bought him some second-hand clothes with the little money I had, and took him home to Ahadi where he was nurtured over the next 3 years.
Our social worker has been monitoring his home situation, and has seen a lot of improvement recently. The dad now is doing shoe repair, and the family is living in a decent house, and there is food. The parents are begging to have him back, and the mom had her arm around him most of the time. Three times each year, the boy has visited his parents to keep the connection. Last week, the time seemed to be right, and the District Children’s Officer accompanied our social worker to the remote area where the boy’s home was now located, where he had stayed over Christmas break. She gave approval for him to stay there. We left money for him to be enrolled in the local school and to buy a uniform, shoes, and books, and will monitor his situation, and also allow him to visit his “brothers” at Ahadi now and then (which he insisted on). He has left his mark on my heart (and also on my piano where he etched his name in 2-inch letters twice, with a screw, one time when he came to stay overnight with a couple of his Ahadi friends—a good reminder whenever I play it, to pray for him). I hope you will pray for Joshua, too, as he re-adjusts to home. In the photo above, he is second from left, front row.
A RECORD NUMBER OF AHADI BOYS IN COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY
Nineteen Ahadi boys are in 11 different Kenyan colleges and universities this term. Three more are waiting in the queue. These boys have individual sponsors who faithfully pay their tuition, fees and upkeep each term. The majors range from medicine, engineering, business, logistics, communication, community development, chef, political science, economics, management information systems, and computer science. We try to determine their strengths and interests and help them find a college that suits them.
Many of the students have done an attachment this last semester. The one studying cooking was working at a lodge in a game park, on a hill surrounded by lions. Pictured is Anthony who is studying Pharmacy at Kenya Medical Training College in Mombasa.
It’s not too late to sponsor an Ahadi university or college student beginning in May term. The choices are: Bachelor’s in Finance (he already has a diploma so will only have about 2 ½ years to finish), Certificate in Community Development (hoping to continue to Diploma); and Master’s in Child Development (he has a Bachelor’s in Education). Cost for each of these is about $1,200 per term, and all of them have 3 terms per year. One of them would need about $500 initially to get set up in a room with bed, mattress, table, something to cook on, decent clothes, etc. Let me know if any of these sound “doable” to you. Or, if you can help with getting the one boy to set up in a room, I’m sure his future sponsor would appreciate this one-time boost.
Our Ahadi alumni had a reunion at Ahadi on 29 December and caught up on everybody’s news. Pictured are the ones who managed to come. Many others would have loved to but were too far away. Thanks to folks like you, most of these boys have grown up to be well-adjusted and are integrated into the community. Keep up the good work, and MAY GOD BLESS YOU.