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I want to introduce you to some of the 31 high school kids who have been nurtured and mentored at Hope for Life (HFL) Kenya. This Orphan Care ministry, (now a US not-for-profit under Faith and Learning and an NGO in Kenya) takes care of 150 kids. This ministry has grown since my church became involved in 2004 and I would say that Hope for Life has virtually raised this particular group of teenagers since they were elementary children.

DSC_5670Here are some of the small children in 2007.

It’s amazing what these children have lived through in their short lives. I’d like you to understand a bit about their situations. They have had to grow up very fast as they have come from homes where their mom or dad has passed away during their young years from HIV/AIDS. As most people are aware the AIDS crisis continues to devastate Africa.

Let me share a few common facts about HIV/AIDS and how it affects a family. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a sexually transmitted infection. Promiscuity is a problem in Africa as it is everywhere. Yet the disease can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding. It can take years before HIV weakens the immune system to the point that one develops AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which is a chronic and often life-threatening condition in Africa.  Opportunistic diseases attack the HIV+ person’s weakened immune system. Soon the person is very sick from the virus. Though Antiretroviral (ARV) medicines and a healthy diet can stem the progress of the disease, they are often out of reach in Africa.

So the children I will introduce you to have experienced a family life like none we have known in our culture in the US. The stresses of parents constantly being sick and unable to hold a job or care for/make meals for their children is the least of it. There are so many other stresses as people die, and extended families squabbling over a new knowledge of someone being diagnosed with HIV.  The shame, stigma, and in-fighting makes day to day life miserable and often dangerous.  I can say that this is a common experience with most of our Hope for Life kids.

Child being raised by grandparents

Child being raised by grandparents

The HFL director, Josephine Kiarii intervenes in these circumstances and tries to make sure that the kids are in safe homes with new guardians or with extended family members. Josephine does not put them into an orphanage, as very few exist in Africa as there are a million AIDS orphans in Kenya. The commonly held “best practice” for care for AIDS orphans is a center like Hope for Life, often associated with a church or NGO.

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She brings these children into the center that was created just for them. The loving care, the meals, the after-school tutoring, playground, music, and biblical teaching all come with the center. All of this nurturing has born huge benefits as most of the children have met Christ as their Savior and friend..

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Now, 11 years later we have high schoolers, who came in their early grade school years, and are now responsible teenagers, old before their time, in many cases, who follow Christ and take spiritual leadership of the younger kids. They have done well in school, have been tutored in a vocation or a trade, and have been mentored by Josephine, her staff, and area pastors. They have now been accepted into high school in early 2015 as they qualified by their school exam scores.

All of these kids need our help.  You can learn how to sponsor one of these kids for his/her high school years. I hope that you may find the compassion to consider $30 a month or more to support a high school student this year. The sum of $97 a month would sponsor one teen for the next two terms through December 2015. Click here to learn more and support a student.

Let me introduce you to some of these kids over these next weeks. If you would like more information about any of them or would like to pray specifically for a student, please contact me.

Meet Joseph T. 

kellylemonphotography.interviews.joseph-1 Joseph “Jose” and his 5 siblings are in the Hope for Life (HFL) program. He is the “glue” in his family and his home life is not easy, as they often live in crisis. He is a strong servant leader both at Hope for Life and church. He initiates teaching Scripture to the boys at HFL. He particularly loves drama and poetry. Besides being the commander of the church young boy’s battalion, he enjoys “Gospel” dancing, a common Sunday morning program at Africa Inland Churches and he pitches in with church set up.  He is grateful to HFL for helping with his reading skills and the gifts of clothing through the years. He has started high school and his favorite subject is science. He wants to be a journalist and dreams of traveling to India someday.

Look for more introductions to these great kids coming soon.  They all are worthy of your support and prayer. Below : Alice, Anthony, Joel and Daniel

Photos compliments of Juli Watt Photography & Kelly Lemon Photography

View the blog of this photographer for beautiful pictures of Hope for Life taken in January 2015.

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