Last night, Steph and I were doing dishes together after a long day. I love that we have the time to debrief — we go separate ways all day, but catching each other up in the evening helps keep us connected in our different areas in ministry. Lately, he spends usually two days a week out at Njojane, one of our newest CarePoints. Through partnership with a stateside church, Mission of Mercy child sponsorship, and Children’s Cup, construction is full speed ahead. Meanwhile, this has been a feeding site for some time. This small cooking structure and six bomake (volunteer cooks) provide food for 350-400 children Monday through Friday. It’s pretty incredible.
When I hear Njojane (n-joe-johnny) in conversation, it’s construction related, but there is always mention of a little naked boy (absolutely no clothes) running up and down the dirt path leading to the site. Everyone who has been out to Njojane usually mentions that they’ve seen the little streaker. 🙂 However, today, this little boy and his family became personal and my heart is sick.
Steph went on to tell me last night that this little boy is one of three belonging to a mother in the community. Her husband died some time ago, and she is caring for them alone. According to the bomake, the mother works in the sugar cane fields, traveling one hour each way. The three boys, approximately ages 6, 4, and 2, are always waiting at the construction/feeding site gate even before any of the construction crew or volunteer cooks arrive. The boys are on their own, all day, caring for themselves. However, our cooks have shared their not-so-favorable impressions of this mother. The boys are bathed approximately once a year and have virtually no needs met, physically, emotionally, and otherwise. Additionally, their mother admitted that if Children’s Cup would want her boys, that “they could just take them.” Steph began to ask the bomake what we could do — could we bring clothes out to the site? However, the bomake said that the mother is working and makes enough money to provide clothes for her children — she chooses not to. Her children are a burden to this woman.
As he talked with the bomake, Stephen noticed a tiny boy lying on a cardboard mat, just waking up from a nap. He was only clothed with a shirt — nothing else. Groups of flies swarmed his head, aggravating him, while he lie there listless. One of the bomake lifted the boy to a sitting position, where he sat emotionless, without any expression. He doesn’t play, doesn’t utter a sound, and is nearly impossible to engage. His older brothers brought him scoops of dirty water, pushing his head down nearer to the bowl, encouraging him to drink. All along, their mother is away in the sugar cane fields. This is the smallest of the three, two years old.
Somewhere along the way, their mother lost hope. Very possibly it dates back countless generations. Caregivers losing hope, and just attempting to survive becomes the way of life. Generations devoid of Jesus, devoid of HOPE. Somewhere along the line a disconnect has occurred and has allowed this mother to view her children, God’s blessings, as burdens.
In a few months, construction at Njojane will be complete. The church and CarePoint will be in full operation. Preschool classes, bible clubs, youth camps, and other programs will be birthed. The future is very bright for Njojane — the community, through Him and Him and alone, will have the opportunity to be taken from hurting to HOPE. This transformation is beginning, but witnessing the hurt is painful.