I remember when the orphanage gates opened and I saw him standing there. He looked emotionless, certain of denial. His sister, a tiny girl that looked to be 3 years old, stood behind him. It was 2012 when I first saw him arrive at the Tumaini orphanage. For me, I’ve never witness ‘this part’. The part where they come off the streets. I’ve always witnessed the happiness of those who live within the orphanage gates. Never before seen how they look when they arrive. That night, the staff told us they had no idea where he came from. He was, as they say, a ‘street child’.
Their cloths were frayed, worn, and filled with red stained dirt. The look on their face was emotionless as they stood and just observed behavior of the other children. It was as if they’ve never seen such joy, love, or even character. . . . . this was foreign. Their brown eyes filled with the life of a 30 year old man. For only God knows what they have seen, witnessed, or felt. My imagination quickly filled with thoughts of what their life has been like so far, they needed a hug.
One year has past since that day in 2012. We returned to Tumaini and little Timo was well, still just as little, but this time with huge smiles. His english was amazing, his laughter was music, and his soul reflected all the love he had received in the past 12 months. He was a different child.
After our first night, I sat down with Hezron, an alumni orphan of the children’s home. Hezron has been with us since our very first visit in 2009, received a scholarship, is about to graduate and has a job waiting for him. The pride of success gleams from his eyes in a way that words can’t describe. Kenya has a 40% unemployment rate and now a child, whom has no family, is walking away with a degree, a job, and more importantly a shot at escaping the poverty he grew up in.
“Tumaini isn’t just about saving children from the street. Its a ministry. Its a place where we not only help children grow, but raise Souls in away that gives them power, faith, and love to continue the mission of Tumaini for the rest of their life.” he said during a late night chat sitting outside the dining hall.
Over 180 children are cared for by the orphanage, with a staff of less than 10 people. In order to survive, the children must help raise each other. Older students act as mentors for the younger children. They address each other not just as friends, but brothers and sisters. They know that they need each other in order to not only grow, but to succeed. The love that is being shed from these walls can’t be described in words nor pictures. Its a feeling I struggle to describe. But to know that a place like this exists, that children like this exists gives me an immense feeling of hope, blessing, and encouragement.
Why hope? Tumaini in definition means hope. And compared to them, I have skill sets that I know I can use to help ‘Raise Souls’ and invest my life into something that will long outlive it.
Let the journey begin.