Reflections From A Visit

~ By Randy Buist, Kenya Matters President

As the van entered the CRCA gates on Friday afternoon, Dec. 10, six of the younger kids ran alongside the van yelling “Karibu Kenya,” which translates into “Welcome to Kenya.”

The Monday after my arrival was a national holiday, the Kenyan version of our 4th of July. Our staff decided to make it a major day of festivities, cooking and entertaining the children throughout the day and into the evening.

During the dinner meal, there were several rousing rounds of musical chairs, and the staff entertained the kids with a dance -- which proved to be a highlight of the day. Our nightwatchman, who has been on staff for many years, was hesitant to join the rest of the staff on the stage. He's one of the oldest on our staff as well... However, once the music started, he out-danced everyone. The children roared. It was quite the spectacle.

Five days into the trip, I attended a funeral of the grandfather of two of the children who grew up at the CRCA, Teresia and Joseph. They are now young adults. Their mother had died of HIV when they were very young. Their grandfather was one of the first Kenyans I met outside of the CRCA during my initial trip in 2008. He was kind, generous, and departed this earth at 92 years of age. 

While a funeral can be a time of deep grief, there were many reasons to rejoice. He spent a lifetime lifting others up, including his children, grandchildren, and community members. Five hundred or more showed up to his funeral. Some stood for hours in the hot Kenyan sun. Others of us, those who arrived early, got seats under one of the many tents.

This grandfather could have left his grandchildren to fend for themselves with little care. Instead, he chose to bring them to the CRCA children’s home in early 2008 so they could be cared for on a daily basis. Even though he left Joseph and Teresia with our staff, he regularly returned to spend time with them and encourage them forward. 

When talking with Teresia about her grandfather’s death, John Gakunga Kiboi, she said, “I have lost my dad.”

What a place of honor we hold as we walk with these vulnerable children, and some who are now young adults, through life. Let us commit to walking with them in 2022 and beyond.