We are celebrating all God has done in our midst. This year is our 10th anniversary. And we have new Mattaw gear for sell to help us raise funds for the Mattaw Children! Funds will go towards our current basic needs for the Mattaw Children such as food, medical and education. Education is considered more than a basic need in Kenya. It is a privilege. It is a way of breaking poverty. Education gives hope. And for many families its a goal to attain for their child in order for their family to survive. Let us break it down so you can understand what we mean by survival.
Only in recent years has Kinder-8th grade become free in Kenya. However, this caused overcrowding in schools and the teacher to student ratio makes it difficult to succeed. In rural villages, you can find 5-10 students sharing one book in a class. In 8th grade, students take a test called KCPE. This would be similar to taking the SAT or ACT in America. But the pressure put on students to get a good grade is unreal. So many fall into depression and suicidal thoughts because of the pressure put on children from their families. This grade determines where a student will be accepted into high school. And then this sets them up for a higher chance of going to college. Which then raises the possibility of them getting a job. And in return, this means they are obligated to go back to take care of their family with the majority of their salary from their job. So here is where we even more thankful for the safe and loving homes we are able to provide for the Mattaw Children. Because we have our own school on site, we can provide a quality education for our children. A safe environment where the teacher to student ratio sets our students up for success. The few children in our care that were in school before coming to us, were often mistreated. Girls that were sleeping in outside toilets because they weren’t accepted inside the only distant relatives home they could find for shelter. And then having to walk to school, not looked out for and often raped. Even our own son has a hard time visiting his distant relatives, feeling all they want from him is money. It’s so complex. And we’ve barely touched on some of the issues children face and the importance of having a safe family and a safe school. This is to help you understand why not having the pressure to perform well on a test in order for their family to survive is huge for our children. Our children will never feel obligated to return anything to their family at Mattaw. This is freeing for our children. Mother Theresa knew the freedom in this even for those who give by saying “You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you”. This is what gets me fired up when people tell us that finding a relative for our children to integrate back into is better than a safe and loving family at Mattaw. Because most of our children really have no other option. Of course an institution is shown to be the most difficult place for a children to be raised in. (and I don’t believe we are an institution but family based) And sure, blood family is usually what is best for the hearts of children. But when there isn’t an option to see a child raised with all needs met holistically, without any obligation from relatives that only want what they can get from a child, we have found that until the nation as a whole is more developed and people are breaking chains of poverty, places of refuge like Mattaw are needed. No one has the ultimate answer for the orphan crisis but I believe we are each given solutions to do our part in caring for the “least of these” as we are told to in scripture.
Now, to further explain. We do have children we have been able to reunite with families. One of our girls stayed in our Kimbilio home for a year and then could safely stay with her mom again and we pay for her high school right now. She is brilliant and has so much potential. Her mom isn’t one to obligate her out of selfish desires. But it is a beautiful mother/daughter relationship that God is over. She was placed in our care by the children’s court. She was in an abusive situation and because of the court ruling, her and her mom’s lives were threatened. We are thankful for God’s protection and restoration. So many stories similar to this but I don’t think we have any two stories the same at Mattaw. And we’ve helped hundreds of children over the past 10 years.
We have a boy that was on the streets for years. After being in our care for a few years, we found his mom in Turkana. She is not stable to be able to care for him. Even if we paid for his schooling and food, mentally she can not care for him. We were able to connect her with a local church we work with and she receives care needed spiritually. For school breaks she is capable for him to visit for a few days. She loves that he is at Mattaw and has family with us. There isn’t any safe relatives for him to stay with. At Mattaw, we were able to help him break addiction from glue and life on the streets. We’ve had counselors and social workers help him. And pastors to minister where needed. He also has a mom and dad. And big brothers that have been down similar roads to help him through hard times. And oh my, can he preach. He is so gifted and talented. But he still visits his mom. In America, you might call this open adoption.
Another child was born to a mentally disabled mom and raped at 3 years old. Both of those contributing factors alone meant she was outcasted in society. No safe relatives. No one would adopt her. Love heals though. And she’s been in a safe and loving family at Mattaw for years and is thriving in school.
We have brothers that were left with their blind grandmother. So often what happens is girls are impregnated as teenagers. Then when they find someone to marry, the husband and his family totally reject any previous children the woman has. She has to abandon them and even claim they aren’t hers. Otherwise she isn’t accepted by the new family. The children we found in this situation were severely malnourished, one of them about to die. No safe relatives to track down. Now healthy and loved in a family at Mattaw, they are full of hope.
You are helping us give hope to children in our care by giving financially. During this season where we celebrate the coming together of family and the coming of Jesus, we are full of hope. And we ask you to consider how you can help us continue to give hope and a future to children across the world. Children with names and faces and a story so unique. Stories that were shattered but because of God’s heart for adoption, they are redeemed.
So many stories we have left to share. We’d love to invite you to keep coming back to hear more reasons why Mattaw Children’s Village exist. May we always remember though, that we exist because of God’s deep love for us all.