"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kenyan Friends

Sunday afternoon Leigh Anne and I drove Margaret and Mercy back to Sacramento.  They had been to Mass earlier in the day and visited with Father James.  Mercy is a big movie fan and had been to Blockbuster with Father James and scored some new “used” movies.  They have quite the system going.  After Mercy and friends have finished viewing them as often as they want, she returns them to Father James and he sends them to Kenya.  After I picked the group up, our first stop was “Texas Roadhouse” for a meal.  Mercy and Margaret were so excited to see the peanuts everywhere – they are called “groundnuts” in Kenya.  It was fun to see the joy on their faces at this simple pleasure.  The manager gave them a bag to take home and we stopped at the grocery store and bought a big bag so they have a nice supply!  After we arrived at their house outside of Sacramento, we were treated to hugs (all I had to say was I was Doug's mom)  and the most delicious Kenyan tea.  Leigh Anne has been wanting a lesson on how they make their tea so I hope I will get to judge her efforts.  I also got to meet and visit with Anthony (age 12) and his mother, Peninah.  They were not able to come to Leigh Anne’s birthday celebration because Anthony had just had a surgery on his burns on Thursday.

To give you a little background, Leigh Anne and Doug have been talking about their “Kenyan friends” for the past year.  Mercy and Anthony were both severely burned during political unrest in their hometown in Kenya.  One day their lives were normal and the next day their life was changed forever.   Margaret’s family owned eight cows, pigs, chickens and grew maize and vegetables.  She sold what her family didn’t need.  Peninah’s husband was a businessman and their family was prosperous.   Within an hour or two their homes and everything they owned was destroyed.  Both families ran to one of the local churches for shelter, but this time even the church was burned.  Mercy and Anthony were two of the most severely burned in that fire.  Margaret saw 14 year old Mercy burning and running for her life.  Mercy was headed for the local hospital and ran for several miles before a good Samaritan picked her up and took her to the hospital.  Margaret and her three other daughters (18, 7 and 2) stayed in a refugee camp for several months.  The first week they had no blankets and just slept on the ground.  UNICEF eventually provided food, etc.   The two year old had health issues before the uprising and died in the refugee camp.   Both Anthony and Mercy were hospitalized for months in Kenya and then sent to Shriner’s Hospital in Sacramento for more treatment which Shriner's provides free of charge.  The Kenyan government pays for the house where they live and some living expenses.  As I talked to these two mothers, I was in awe of their strength and courage.  Margaret’s other two daughters are now 20 and 9.  She has not seen them for a year and Mercy needs two more years of treatments.  The girls are living with Margaret’s brother and going to school.  Peninah has two other children as well, ages 11 and 8, and her husband takes care of them when they are not in school.  Anthony also needs two more years of treatments so it will probably be two more years before they are able to see each other.  Even communication with their families is hard.  Kenya does not have reliable or strong internet connections for the ordinary people.

 Father James, Anna and Leigh Anne have worked together to raise funds so the children in Kenya can go to school.  Anna and Father James went to Kenya for several weeks in January.   The website about their efforts to help these families and others is Runkleworks.   If you would like to help keep their children in school, there is a link for donations on Anna's website.

I was truly blessed today in meeting these families.  I am so proud of Leigh Anne and Doug for being involved in this ministry.  Proud Mom!!!


Ardell said...

Count me as a proud aunt and aunt-in-law! What a reminder to us how very blessed we are. Amazing courage and love is evident. Thanks for "introducing" us to these unsung heroes!

becki-c said...

What a wonderful story! it really makes me want to support unicef too.
Inspite of all of that, their smiles are so bright! is he going to school while he is here?

Peggy L said...

Both go to school - Anthony is in 6th grade and Mercy is a sophomore in high school. Neither one talk about how the other students react to their scars, etc. Brave kids!! They both also have frequent doctor appointments, etc. at the Shriners Hospital.

Robyn said...

Wow, this really makes one appreciate good fortune and the lucky situations some of us were born into. I'm glad these families are getting the care they need. Good on Leigh Ann & Doug for helping.