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Thoughts on True Poverty
I have written before about the Mulli Children's Family, an orphanage in Kenya where my family and I have travelled, and where my mother is now.

Remember the pad party video that I posted a while ago? That was all to benefit these girls in the orphanage.

Anyway, my mother is on the board of the charitable foundation in Canada that raises money to help the orphanage, and she sent an update over the weekend of what she's seen. For reference, the Mulli Children's Home is located east of Nairobi, but up north, in Eldoret, there's a refugee camp that started after all the violence in that country a year ago. The orphanage was instrumental in starting relief work there, feeding 3000 people a day and setting up an impromptu school for 1000 children. Three hundred teenage girls were taken from the camp to live at the orphanage, because many had been repeatedly gang raped each night. That was a year ago; they now have several hundred babies at the orphanage, too.

MCF, the orphanage, is doing very well because they believe in self-sufficiency. They've started an elaborate farm and greenhouse operation that feeds the thousands of people there almost entirely, and exports to Europe to bring in cash. They have a fish farm, and a meat farm, and they have a construction company and they start small businesses. It's quite the enterprise, and it's entirely Kenyan run. They don't just take donations from the West for food; they take donations really to build their infrastructure so that one day they will not need donations. And it's working really, really well.

But in the meantime, the need is just so great. My mother sounds very burdened after seeing it all. Here's a bit of what she wrote:

We are all safe and sound but heartbroken...Somewhere this week we flew to Eldoret. MCFCF had raised considerable funds for emergency relief in the IDP Camp and we felt part of our audit should include seeing the site and facilities. There are still about 3500 people living there although the camp was officially closed last July. MCF pulled out in December because they had run out of all funds. As we arrived and starting walking about the camp people gathered. Mueni Mulli was accompanying us, but they also had the MCF Pastor who spent the last 5 months in the camp with us.

We were walking about and one or two women invited us into their tent and told us their story. Richard was able to video this which will help in telling the story, but you cannot imagine the hardship these people are facing. They have not had food since MCF pulled out in mid December other than what the children are able to beg on the streets of Eldoret during the day - and it is a long walk from the IDP Camp to town.

One woman came up to me and asked if we could help her neighbour. The woman had given birth two days ago and neither she nor the baby had anything to eat or drink since nor did she have any help. I told Mueni and she and the pastor went to visit the tent. Apparently Richard got a photo so we can tell the story. Later Mueni explained that she would give the Pastor some money to buy some food for the most desparate situations we encountered, but we all know this is not a solution. Nor can you ignore the reality of the situation. What to do.

The absolute irony (I am not sure that is the right word) of the situation is that, after returning to Nairobi and showering, we took the Mulli family out to dinner that evening. We had a wonderful time with them and heard more about the challenges MCF is facing, but what a contrast!

When we think of the economic hardship we are going through here in North America, it really does not compare. Imagine having to live in a tent, and having no way to protect your teenage daughter from rape. Imagine giving birth all alone, and not having any food.

We are suffering now because as a society we spent what we had frivolously. How much better if we could share what we have with those who need it, in ways that it will actually get to the people who need it (and not go to corrupt governments!). Despite the grim economic news, I am reminded today how much we do have, and how grateful I am for what God has given me. And as soon as my mother gets back, we'll start another round of fundraising, selling all the neat African stuff she's importing! I'm excited.

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At 3:31 PM , Blogger Mrs. Querido said…

Wow. There are no words are there?

Yes, I am acutely aware how blessed I am to be living in the United States. After having visited my husband's family in their rural village, I have new appreciation for the conveniences I enjoy here.

That was over five years ago and the poverty and primitive conditions stick with me to this day. While not as horrible as the conditions those young women are facing in Africa, it is still a far cry from the luxury we take for granted.


At 5:10 PM , Anonymous Matt Singley said…

You are right, what we are going through here in North America pales compared to what those kids are going through. Thanks for sharing this, very powerful.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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