Kisumu, Kenya. What a day! We are in Kisumu, Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria. One of Africa’s Great Lakes. Second only in size to Lake Superior.
I am visiting the Amani Cottage, which is home to 15 children who have not been adopted from New Life Home. This is my 8th trip here in the last 10 years. The children who call Amani Cottage home have one or more health issues; cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome, hydrocephaly, autism, blindness, deafness. They know the realities of these issues every day but they also live with the kindness and the love of the most joyful women I have met in Kenya, their caregivers. Amani Cottage is part of the New Life Home campus in Kisumu where 18 babies and 12 toddlers are also living waiting for their adoptive families. It is one of my favorite places on earth.
One moment this afternoon says it all.
It had been a great day. The babies were in bed; the crawlers were bathed, and the toddlers were being fed. I heard a child still out on the play porch and went back outside to check. It was Martin.
The hot Kisumu sun was finally on the horizon, and a soft wind had stirred up from Lake Victoria. Martin was siting with his caregiver on the edge of the veranda and laughing—laughing at the wind and the smell of the sea. His caregiver grinned at my surprise and we both began to laugh as well. Martin reached out to take my hand and we breathed, cooed and rubbed each others arms as the sun dipped down beyond the vast lake.
Martin has been blind and almost completely deaf since birth. He has cerebral palsy and can’t eat regular food or sit up or move on his own, but he has a million dollar smile and shares it generously. Martin also has a world of joys and interests that the staff and children continue to discover. He loves new clothes, sitting next to his friend Wycliffe, bike rides, swimming, and being told he’s handsome.
Just as Ashley greets the visitors, Lena gets to organize the dolls and Wycliffe has the biggest walker, everyone at New Life Home acknowledges that the wind is Martin’s.
How does all this happen in his world without sight or sound? Breath, touch, energy and love. May your year also be filled with them.
Submitted by Mary McNamara, member of St. Malachi. Parish Council member.
Note: the proceeds from the sale of Kenyan arts items at our annual Fair Trade sale in December goes to support the operations of New Life Home and Amani Cottage. Thank you for your continued support and prayers.