Two years ago I set out on a journey to the Huruma Children’s Home in Kenya and while I knew this trip would impact me, I had no idea how much and in what way. I am forever changed by my time with the children…spending time with orphans does this to a person. The things we take for granted are in short supply in an orphanage; things like food and clothing, running water, and toilets. Things that are not in short supply however, are smiles, hugs, love, and gratitude.
My desire to go to Huruma started out of a love for children. I am a mother and grandmother and I wanted to help, to serve, in any way needed. The mission for the team of people that I traveled to Kenya with was to put on a sports camp for the High School aged children. I didn’t have much experience spending time with high school kids, other than when my own were that age, but I wanted to help, so off I went.
The three days of activities were more than what I imagined they would be in terms of the energy that was needed to keep up with the kids. They were so excited about the games, competition, and fun that the energy level was through the roof. I learned from the children that they look forward to the camp all year long.
The camp was exhausting, but fun and I connected with this age group more than I imagined I would. I gave out lots of hugs and had many talks with both the boys and the girls. Some shared their hearts with me and I felt honored that they trusted me to open up to. They are typical teenagers and they face the same struggles that all teenagers do, only they face them without parents to help them navigate their feelings.
While at Huruma, I learned that once these children finish high school, they have to leave the security of this place they call home, and face the world on their own. Knowledge of this saddened me and I didn’t want to leave and head back after two weeks to my nice, safe life and forget about them. I wanted to help, but I didn’t know in what way.
When I returned to the United States, I became a pen pal to a few of the students. They continued to share their fears about the future and about their hopes to attend college. I knew that something within me was starting to stir and I knew in my heart that I wanted to do more for these children, but what could I do?