Campbell’s Story: Lessons Learned

Written by lauren. Posted in Stories

Campbell Darby was only thirteen when he took his first trip to Kenya. His life was changed and impacted by the people he met while there—the connections he created and the lessons he learned will last a lifetime.

Campbell and childIn 2008, my family and I took our first trip to Makutano, Kenya.  I looked on it then, in the beginning at least, as just a vacation—somewhere fun, exciting, and new. I had no idea how much this one trip would change and shape my life as well as the way I saw the world, and how lucky we are to live in a country as prosperous
as America.

I have since been back to Kenya twice and each time, I am amazed to see how far things have come and how much work God has done there.  I went there to help them, whether
it was with school, or delivering chickens for a family in need.  But I feel now that it is
they who have helped me; I was given opportunities to see things that most people never have, or never will.

Many times I have looked back on my trips to Kenya and have been amazed at how much they were willing to give.  Those people who had so little, and yet would give it all away, in some cases to people they barely knew.  Others have demonstrated the importance of hard work and perseverance.  Nixon, Mama, and Davis, would be great examples of this.  In one of these cases, we now have only memories to show us and to remind us of the truly important things in life, and just how far hard work and a good attitude can take us. 

Going Home

Written by admin. Posted in Stories, Village Project Africa

A new regular contributor to the Village Project Africa blog, Stephanie Lewis Williams reflects on her experiences in Kenya and on what it means to come home again after
those experiences.

I recently read a book by Alexandra Fuller, who grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Malawi, and Zambia.  She lives in Wyoming now and occasionally returns to her home in Africa.  Her book, Scribbling the Cat, includes a beautiful passage about coming back to America after spending time in Africa:

 “It should not be physically possible to get from the banks of the Pepani River [in Zambia] to Wyoming in less than two days, because mentally and emotionally it is impossible. The shock is too much, the contrast too raw. We should sail or swim or walk from Africa, letting bits of her drop out of us, and gradually, in this way, assimilate the excesses of the States in tiny, incremental sips, maybe touring up through South America and Mexico before trying to stomach the land of the Free and the Brave”  (p. 72).

 I have visited Makutano, Kenya, three times over the past three years.  For me, it is easy to go to Makutano yet difficult to return to America.  It takes me a couple of weeks or so to get used to life here again, and I have always wondered exactly why—why is the shock too much as Fuller describes?  Part of the answer is that life is busy and moves fast here in America, and once you have danced to a different beat, it is hard to speed up again.  We also have an overabundance of choices for food and other daily activities compared to a small Kenyan village, and we tend to complain about things that seem meaningless from the perspective of rural Kenya.  When you own just one tattered outfit and no shoes, having a perfectly manicured lawn or a newer car is just not significant. 

 Ox and cartBut I believe there is more to the story.  In Kenya, I feel closer to the earth – the buildings are made of mud, the roads unpaved, the main course for dinner fresh from the backyard.  The “layer” of asphalt and plastic and packaging that covers so much of life in America is diminished or absent in Kenya.  There is less to hide behind.  Somehow and in some way, Africa seems to touch and connect with a deeper part of me – of all of us.  I am reminded too that the earliest humans originated in this part of the world.  Perhaps that is why Africa almost feels more like “home.”  Letting go of that experience when returning to America is challenging.  Next time, I may take Alexandra Fuller’s advice and return in a far more gradual way.  Maybe it will help.

Urgent Need for Sponsorship

Written by margaret. Posted in Children, Sponsorship

ButrossAbout 2 days ago, Carol and I were discussing some of the children in the school.  Carol told me about Butross Chagara and said he is an urgent case because he is severely abused by his step mother and he needs to be in the dorm.  I decided to interview him and find out for myself.  Lately, I have not been in tears as I hear the stories, but on this day I cried with him as he told his story and he cried.

He is the cutest little boy.  He is 11 years old and in class 5 in Martin’s class.  He is always in the top 5, and often number 2.  On the last exams, he was number 2 in his class even though he lives in extremely difficult circumstances.  I find it incredible.  He told me that his health is good, though he had had some chest problems but now is ok. 

He lives in Soweto with his stepmother, Violet, another brother named Benson Lomosi who is in class 4 at Heritage (who will also need a school and dorm sponsorship, but Butross’s case is the most critical) and a young step-sibling who is not in Heritage.   There is a father who lives in Nairobi, but Butross said he rarely comes home.  Butross does not know what his father does in Nairobi and he doesn’t know where his mother is—she left the family. 

Butross came to Heritage when he was in the fourth grade.  He was living with his grandmother near KIST when his father called from Nairobi and said he had to go live with his stepmother.  Butross didn’t want to go, but they made him move. When I asked him about his life at home, he said, “My step-mother tortures me.”  I thought that was a very strong word.  He says that she makes him work without rest when he is home.  She beats him and does not feed him what the other children eat.  Sometimes he sleeps in the forest because she chases him away from the home.   I asked him if he is frightened and I think this is when he started crying.  He said, “Yes, I am frightened.”  We cried together. 

Butross is really an amazing child. We want to get him in a safe situation as soon as possible and thank you for considering a sponsorship that would provide for his education and dormitory stay.

UPDATE: Butross was quickly sponsored! We are so thankful!

Please contact Lauren at if you are interested in sponsoring a child like Butross. Thank you!

Judy’s Story: God’s Love Shines Through

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Missions, Sponsorship, Stories

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.

Judy with childrenI 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!

Rita’s Story: A Dream Comes True!

Written by margaret. Posted in Children, Sponsorship

RitaI 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.

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