Today’s spotlight is on Brian Kavogi.
Brian came to our school in 2013. When his mother remarried and moved away, Brian was left behind to live with his uncle, an experience not uncommon for children whose mothers remarry. Not long after she left, Brian’s mother died, leaving him a total orphan.
There was never enough money for food, much less school fees in his uncle’s house, and Brian found himself hungry in two ways: for food and for opportunity. A chance encounter with Director Davis Otieno Reuben’s mother opened just the sort of opportunity Brian was seeking to feed his hunger in both ways: she brought him to Davis, and Brian immediately found a home at Heritage Academy.
Brian was placed in the boy’s dorm and was introduced to the music program at Heritage when the choir director, Titus, singled him out and introduced him to singing. Brian had never performed before, but he had heart, passion, and rhythm. After much practice and hard work, Brian has become one of the lead singers, and he hopes to continue singing, dancing, and playing the drum as he gets older.
At Heritage, Brian has flourished. He says that he is learning well and that all his needs are being met. He gives credit to his sponsor and to God for providing the means for him to work toward becoming the man he hopes to be. He is grateful, and so are we, for how far he has come and all that he has and will continue to do.
Today’s spotlight is on Belvin Soli.
Belvin has been a part of our school for a long time. He is now part of our high school as a ninth grader and is looking for a co-sponsor to help cover the costs of this advanced level of education.
Belvin is doing extremely well in school. He loves the library and his teachers at Heritage. He says that Heritage is the best place for him to be, and he is happy there. He studies hard because he hopes to one day become a pilot. Belvin asks for prayers that he may continue to work toward that dream. In his free time, Belvin likes to play soccer with friends.
Belvin says his favorite Bible story is that of Job because it teaches about having faith in God. He is thankful for the sponsor who has provided so much for him already and he is thankful for the co-sponsor who will step forward to help him continue on the road to his dreams. Belvin says, “I am glad to say thank you, and may God bless you abundantly.”
I came home this evening to dishes piled in the sink and pots and pans left on the stove from a hasty dinner prepared before my husband and I both ran out the door for different meetings. I have to admit that I grumbled to myself a bit as I filled the sink with soap and water and prepared to attack the baked on cement that had been refried beans hours earlier. As I scrubbed and scraped the dishes, I suddenly remembered something I read this weekend and I began to feel ashamed of my grumbling.
I have the pleasure of reading the interviews of every child eligible for sponsorship in our program, and I often write their brief bios to help potential sponsors get to know each child a little better. On Saturday, I spent some time going over some recent interviews and came across one that really made me stop and think. Our interviewers have started asking the children what they have had to eat that day and what they consider to be their favorite food. Most of the kids say they’ve had tea, maybe some chapati (a kind of bread), and that when they go home they may have ugali (a Kenyan dish of cornmeal and water) and vegetables, maybe some fish. When it comes to the question about favorite foods, I always think about the answers that kids give here in the U.S. I know when I was the age of some of these kids, my reply was always macaroni and cheese. These kids, however, will probably never know what macaroni and cheese tastes like, may never see a pizza, and may never have the pleasure of eating a cold ice cream cone on a hot day. No, the typical favorites found at the top of a child’s list in the US were nowhere to be found in the interviews I read. The most common favorite foods of the kids at Heritage? Rice.
But the one that came to me today as I washed the dishes from a meal, lavish by Makutano standards, was six-year-old Wilson’s favorite food. When asked what his favorite food was, Wilson said milk. Milk is his favorite food. Just think about that for a second. I thought about it on Saturday, but I really thought about it again today. How many times do we take even the most basic parts of our diets for granted? It’s astounding to think that those “basics” are the very things that kids in Makutano, around the world, even here in our own country, dream about and savor, if given the opportunity.
Needless to say, I had a different perspective as I finished cleaning up. I think we often take for granted so much that we are given in life, and my experiences with the children at Heritage Academy remind me time and time again of this truth. These children aren’t asking for cheeseburgers or the latest gadgets. Their needs are for the very things we often don’t even think twice about—they need opportunity for an education, they need love, they need care, and they need something more than just tea and vegetables to eat.
Want to share with these kids just a taste of what we take for granted? Check out our sponsorship page.
“For I was hungry, and you fed me…” Matthew 25:35
Linda Svec traveled to Makutano with the mission to share her experience as a pre-school teacher with the teachers in our early childhood development program at Heritage Academy. She took just as much away from her trip as she left behind with the teachers!
I think back on my trips at Makutano often. I still can’t believe I’ve had 2 visits, the first in June 2011 and the second in February 2012. Growing up as a minister’s daughter, the idea of doing mission work has always been part of my life. However, the idea of ME doing that work was not part of my thought process.
The purpose of my trips was to work with the early childhood program, sharing what I know about teaching and taking materials to the teachers and showing them how to use them. It took months to prepare and collect everything we might need.
Several times now I’ve been able to speak to groups about my trips. Recently, I found myself speaking again at a small church in Eastern Kentucky. I displayed pictures and items I’d brought home, told about the children, and shared stories about the new friends I made. I enjoy telling my stories to others. The time spent in the classrooms, playing with the children, meeting other teachers, sharing meals, home visits, and so many other things are all cherished memories for me.
One of the highlights for me was meeting a little boy, Job. Job is 9 years old and the same age as one of my grandchildren. He had a horrible home life and is now thankfully in the dorm. Job is now my sponsor child. I think back on my first visit when we were just getting to know each other—he looked at me without much sparkle in his eyes. The second trip, however, showed a different boy. I saw him playing with his friends, running, working hard in the classroom, and SMILING.
I think back on these trips and can only think of what this has changed in me. The Lord has shown me new and wonderful work to do. I look at pictures now posted on Facebook and search for the faces I know. I recently received an email with an updated picture of Job, and I love it. I can’t wait to see the changes in store for these wonderful new friends and how I can be used. I can’t wait to go back!
Taylor Norsworthy and her family were one of the first to become a part of our sponsorship program after it launched in 2009. Since then, their support has continued to grow. Here, Taylor shares the personal story of how the sponsorship program helped her through heartbreak and how it has made a difference in her life and the life of her family. We are so thankful for their support and Taylor’s willingness to share this story with us.
Friday, October 12, 2007: I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the day my heart became overwhelmed and in love. It was the day my son was born. It was the day I learned for the first time what unconditional love really felt like. The first time my eyes focused on this amazing creature God made I knew right away how much God loved me, or at least I got a glimpse. I’ve learned since then that God’s love for me is just simply incomparable and really how amazing is that! It was also the day I fell in love with the idea of a bigger family, a close family, a family to love, and a family to care for. Truthfully, I never in a million years would have said anything like that before that very day. That day changed my life forever.
As time passed, I grew content and more in love with my little family. October 12th didn’t instantly change me, but my more selfless dreams and goals brightened, and God’s plan
for me became more evident. For now, I was to be a mother. That was my new dream.
It is human nature to want more of a good thing and so, just like that, I wanted
August 1, 2008 was the start of a waiting game and the start of my struggle with God. Secondary infertility entered my life and took me on yet another emotional roller coaster. It is a sensitive topic that I have found very few like to discuss, unless they have been there and eventually been blessed with a child. Those not going through infertility don’t know what to say to you and, honestly, you end up feeling alone. I was confused, hurt, and frustrated with God because I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I didn’t want to hear about God blessing others with children.
In December 2009, I hit rock bottom in depression. Not the sort of depression where I wanted to take my life, but the sort where tears were the only makeup on my face. Sobbing seemed to be my new hobby and life just felt meaningless. It was during this time that I forgot how good I had it. I forgot I had a husband who loved me, who took care of us, and because of it I was able to be a stay-at-home mom. I forgot about my son. I forgot how amazing he was because I was so focused on the child that didn’t exist.
It wasn’t until after the New Year (January 2010) that life began to have meaning and I began to listen to God again. Sitting in our living room with my laptop in hand, I remember scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and coming across a post from an old friend pertaining to Village Project Africa. I went to their page to check it out and immediately felt drawn to it. I literally sat there for what seemed like forever, just reading and learning everything I could about it. It was certainly then, and more so now, that I realized Village Project Africa was a Godsend. You see, my heart changed again that day. I was lifted from this depression that bound me so tightly that I couldn’t breathe and I began to really understand the line that people kept tossing me “in God’s timing.” The tears stopped.
It was shortly after the 5th of February, 2010 that I received a picture and information about sweet little David, a third grader at the time and one of the first students at Heritage Academy. I really don’t know how to explain it (as I now have tears welling in my eyes just thinking about it), but looking at David’s photograph was reminiscent of the time I first laid eyes on my own flesh and blood. What was initially about me feeling lead to give and to help a child drastically changed the moment I locked eyes with a photograph of a smiley little boy I had never met and still haven’t met almost three years later. David immediately became a part of our little family and from there it grew.
We now sponsor five children in Makutano and, God willing, we will reach our goal of twelve children by the end of the year (2012). David, Metrine, Belvin, Nicanary, and Francis now have pictures hanging on a wall of our home to symbolize the part of our family that they are and to serve as a constant reminder to pray for them every day. Our son is learning their names and has taken so much from this experience. He doesn’t think of them as siblings, and still has a desire to have a brother as great as my desire is to give him one, but he is learning through this experience that God loves everyone no matter what they look like and he is learning to give and to pray for others.
It’s been four years, 2 months, and several weeks now that I’ve dealt with secondary infertility and as much as my heart still desires to have more children, I no longer have an open wound. I’m open completely to God’s timing. God is so amazing in the way he brings the absolute last thing you would ever think of to your aid. To think God used kids so far away to “fix” me and help take such a burden away is just so remarkable, impressive, and so God.
Being a part of VPA has blessed my family and me more than I feel we could ever bless our sponsored children financially. The whole experience has been incredible and I cannot wait for the day when we get to meet these special kids face-to-face. Now, the businesswoman in me wants to make money to change more lives!