Judy Princell visited the village for the first time this past summer and was immediately drawn in by the people and the way she saw God working around her. Here she shares some of her thoughts on her experiences.
I wish everyone could have the paradigm shifting experience of visiting the village and knowing, even for a short time, these wonderful, bright, courageous people. Ten of us were blessed to spend two weeks with Margaret and Davis and the children, families, and teachers in the village. We were met by some of the children on our first afternoon with bouquets of flowers and special songs they had rehearsed for us. We were blessed to be guests at Pastor Joseph and Mary’s wedding the next day—an all day affair and a truly unique experience. We were able to visit with some of the children in their homes, and this was one of the times God used us for one of his miracles. There was a badly burned baby girl in the compound, and because we were there and met this family, Margaret and Davis took her to the hospital and her life was saved.
The most precious memories I have of the village are the amazing stories we heard
from some of the mothers, from Pastor Joseph and Mary, from Davis and many others. God’s love always shines through. I could tell you story after story about the miracles
that we heard and saw in the short time we were in the village—all because of God’s wonderful timing.
My two little sponsored girls, Mercy and Joan, are bright, beautiful children who I pray will have a better chance to grow up and achieve their goals because of Heritage Academy!
I had been looking forward to the day I would get to meet Rita. She is the newest child in our school and our latest child to be sponsored. A few weeks ago, Davis (our Kenyan Director) called me in the U.S. to ask if he could put a little girl in school and in the dorm. He went on to say that she was in a desperate situation. After I heard her story and the pleading in his voice, I told him to put her into the dorm and back into school at once and we would try to find a sponsor for her.
Rita comes from our neighborhood in Likuyani. Her family lives in the thatched house at our corner and they are very poor. Rita would often appear at our gate and Davis’s mother would give her food and avocados from the tree in our yard. A few weeks ago, Davis passed by Rita’s home on his way to Eldoret and greeted her grandmother as he went on his way. It was a day like any other day—except that this day turned out to be different. Within hours, and before Davis returned from his business, Rita’s grandmother suddenly died. For Rita, real trouble had just begun.
Immediately after the funeral, Rita’s grandfather took her out of school to do the housework and chores. She had become almost like a slave girl without her grandmother to care for her. There was not enough food. There was no soap to keep clean. There was little clothing, and the thatched roof did not keep them dry. Life became even more difficult for Rita.
The neighbors noticed and one of them took Rita in temporarily. Because this neighbor had so many other children to care for, she could not keep Rita for long. She came to Davis and asked if his family would take care of Rita. For a night or two, Davis and his family took her in, but they knew it would be difficult to keep her long term. Davis wanted to help Rita, and he dreamed of a brighter future for her. He hoped she could become a part of Heritage Academy where she would be loved, fed, clothed, and cared for. His dream came true when a sponsor came forward to help Rita.
She is a darling little girl with lots of charm. Whenever you mention her name, people smile. We are thankful that Rita has bright hope for tomorrow thanks to her new sponsor and Heritage Academy leaders. When I saw Rita, she was so very happy. Her joy is contagious to all who know her. Thank you, dear sponsors, for your generosity. And thank you, Davis, for your compassion for the least of these.
Leah Norton shares what brought her family to Village Project Africa to fill a space that was empty in their family.
Our girls have been wanting to adopt more children into our family, but that’s not what Brian and I feel God calling us to do. Instead, we are thrilled to have started sponsoring two girls (they are sisters!) through Village Project Africa! At just $20 per month per child, I bet many others could sponsor a child if they wanted to as well. Our daughters, Addy and Livy, are now praying for these girls every day and loved being able to send them some gifts. This is impacting our girls—and us—in a major way. Wow!!! God is changing our worldview and our love for Him and others is GROWING. I’m so thankful!
Jaclyn Smith came home from her first visit to Makutano with a passion for the village and the people living there. When she returned a year later, the love she felt for one little boy helped her passion grow even more.
My experiences in Makutano are something I could talk about for days if someone was willing to listen. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to go to the village three different times. There is one reason in particular that I keep returning, and that is a little boy named Reagan. I remember him vividly from my second trip, which is when I first met him. We were standing outside of the airport and a small group of children from Heritage Academy were there to greet us. They were all singing songs of welcome, some of which required movement to the beat. I fell in love with Reagan right then and there, watching
everyone stomping their feet to the beat and seeing him, the only one stomping on the off-beat. He sat on my lap on the bus ride back to the village because they were not enough seats for everyone. I loved every minute of it!
Before there was a child sponsorship program, I knew I wanted to help him in whatever way I could. I asked about his situation and learned Reagan’s story. Reagan’s mother came to the village to visit with friends and a family allowed her
to stay with them while she visited. She got pregnant while she was in Makutano and gave birth to sweet little Reagan. She stayed long enough to nurse him, but then left. The family she had been staying with tried to find her, but were unable to do so. Thankfully, they decided that they would care for Reagan as best as they could. I am very thankful that they took him in.
Once the sponsorship program started up, I was finally able to provide for him and pay for his schooling and any medical expenses he had. It was amazing to see how much he had grown on my third trip and I kept him as close to me as much as I could!
On that trip, I was able to meet the family who had taken him in and the man he called his grandfather. While I was at the home where he was staying, I learned that he had been sleeping on the ground, in a cook room filled with smoke, on dirty rags. My heart broke and I promised myself that I would do anything to get him a real bed. After I left, Margaret and Davis went on a home visit and decided that it would be best for Reagan to stay in the boys’ dorm because he was not given enough food at his house. He now lives in the new boys dorm and I can tell from pictures how happy he is to be there.
God blessed me the moment we met and I will continue to visit him every chance I get. I hope to see him finish school and go on to do great things with his life!
Damaris was the very first child sponsored in the Village Project Africa sponsorship program—this special little girl, and the connection she formed with our first sponsor, Sandra, made us realize what an amazing opportunity we had to build bonds and change lives on both sides of the ocean. Here is Sandra’s story, in her own words:
I met Damaris on my first trip to Africa in 2008. My family organized a Bible school for the children at the school and she was there. I noticed her several times throughout the day, always standing alone and away from the other children. Slowly, over the course of the day, she made her way closer and closer to me and finally reached out to hold my hand. In all my years of teaching, I had never seen a child with such a haunted expression.
The day was over too soon and it was time for us to leave. We boarded the bus and one hundred or more children crowded the bank by the road, waving goodbye. I was waving at all the children when I saw Damaris making her way slowly along the back of the crowd, looking in every window of the bus. When she saw me sitting towards the back, she ran down until she was directly below my window. She reached her hand up and we held hands out the window until the bus pulled out to leave. Little did I know, my life would never be the same!
That was my one and only encounter with Damaris that trip,
but when I got home, I could not get her out of my mind and heart. I asked Margaret and Davis if they would check with the teachers and see if they could gather more information about this little girl, who I actually thought was a boy the day
Margaret and Davis checked on her and, through a process of communication, were able to assess Damaris’ needs and also meet her family. I had no idea that when Damaris made her way to me that day it would change both our lives—and that of her father, Morgan,
A few months after a return trip to Kenya and a visit with Morgan and Damaris, I could not stop thinking about them both. I truly believe God was putting them in my mind because something was wrong. I got in touch with Margaret and Davis and they again went to check on the family. When they arrived at their home, they discovered Morgan was very sick—in fact, he was dying. Davis got him to the hospital and through treatment Morgan got well. He now takes care of the chickens at Heritage Academy!
The way God allowed us to connect with this family was truly a miracle. He first allowed me to form a special bond with Damaris and used that connection to make a difference in (and surely save!) Morgan’s life. It is impossible for me to fully explain how my knowing this little girl in Africa has helped me experience God’s faithfulness and grace more fully.
Damarius and I still share a very special relationship and, while she was my first, I now sponsor 10 other children. I have the privilege of seeing the lives of the four girls I sponsor in the dorm change before my eyes. The haunted faces are replaced by shy smiles and giggles.
There is no better thing in the world than
knowing you are making a difference in the life
of a child. People tell me what a blessing I am
and that these children are so fortunate. My
reply is always the same: my life is the one that has been blessed beyond measure and I am so fortunate to be allowed a small part in making
the lives of these children more full and abundant in their knowledge and certainty that someone loves them.
We are thankful for Sandra, and the many sponsors who have come after her and found amazing, life-changing connections with children!