All For A Shovel
Life can be so incredible unfair and injustice seems to run rampant in every culture – but yesterday I experienced something that has so blown my mind here in Kenya – as I share this please know this blog would qualify as a PG-13 rating, it will not be an easy read – and believe me, writing it is the hardest story from here I have written.
What does a simple shovel cost… pretty easy question where I come from – say $15 to $30 depending on if you need a good one or not. What if I told you a simple shovel cost an entire family of 8 everything they had! Dad has worked hard to move his family onto a plot of land, land that he has purchased, no more paying rent – it may only be about 500 square feet but it was a good start. They built a small one room home out of brick with a thatched roof and planted banana trees on the rest of the land. Dad is working two jobs to support his wife and six children – the oldest is 12 and the youngest is just 7 months. One job is road repair, requiring a shovel to move sand along the sides of the road – the other job requires him to be gone for 30 days at a time driving a taxi which he hires from someone else splitting the meager earnings, it’s good work for him. As I hear this part of the story it’s clear this guy is a good dad and husband. So many of the stories we have heard from others here make it clear that most of the men in the poorest communities are not good men – they won’t take up the responsibilities of their families, they usually sit around drinking and let their wives take care of everything… but not this dad. One day in late October of 2013 as he was leaving to go drive taxi, a neighbor asked to borrow his shovel while he was away – no problem he says and heads out for the month. When he returns at the end of November he stops at home to say hello to the family and tells his wife he needs to go get his shovel so he can work the roads the next day – that hello was their last. After he hadn’t returned for some time Consolete went to check on her husband, what she found completely destroyed her world. There on the ground at the neighbor’s was her husband, almost unrecognizable. He had been dismembered and beheaded with a machete by his drunken neighbor. She was able to recognize his face and some clothing but there was nothing else that even remotely looked like him. Consolete immediately went into shock, paralyzed by the sight before her. Word spread through the small remote village of Coast, friends came to help her and the authorities were called in. The neighbor was arrested but for Consolete that was of little consequence. Her husband and the father of her children was gone forever – for what – she lost ALL for a shovel?
Consolete has been so traumatized that she has been unable to care for her children for the last 6 months, the older children are watching after the younger and the neighbor is helping her care for baby Isaiah. The local Children’s Office received word about this family at the end of May and called Hellen and Richard asking them to please go access the family’s situation and let them know what they find. They are shocked by the story and the total devastation. The family’s home has caved in, the children are severely malnourished, Consolete is still traumatized, she is slightly responsive but often stares off into space, baby Isaiah is week and very small for 14 months, unable to hold his head up and there is an unmarked grave between the banana trees. These children need to be rescued and Consolete needs some care and counseling. Kylee and I were already on our way to Kitale so Hellen decided to ask us to make the journey into the small remote village to visit the family, get their story and take photos of the children for sponsorship. It was a beautiful drive on the red dirt roads outside of Kitale, this little village was pretty remote and as we arrive it’s obvious that many if not all of the children have never seen a white person before. The van is surrounded by little faces as we tried to get out but as soon as our feet hit the ground everyone scattered. Hellen leads the way down this mud path through thick trees and hedge rows between homes made of mud and sticks… this is a very poor area, the children are filthy and bare foot with that rust tinge in their hair from malnutrition. When we arrive at the family’s home we fast draw a crowd – there must have been 50 children around while we take photos, and try to talk with the family. The images of their fallen down home, the unmarked grave and Consolete’s face as she held Isaiah will not be forgotten. The tears come and my hands tremble as I try and share this story, what I saw yesterday, the senseless devastation, is beyond comprehension. I want justice, I want their lives put back together, I want Consolete well so she can care for her children and I want her children to have the love they deserve. None of them asked for this… ALL for a shovel!
So what do we do now – we do what the Mighty Acorn Foundation does – what we have been called to do. We rescue, restore, connect, and empower these children. When I started this blog less than 24 hours ago we were sitting at the lodge in Kitale battling the slow internet to post the photos and stories of these precious kids so we could get the word to our you are amazing group of followers… I’m sitting in that same place right now and all 6 children have been sponsored. I have are no words – only an amazed and grateful heart! It was incredible to stand face to face with Pastor Richard and Hellen sharing the news that all the children were sponsored – there were shouts of thanks and a few tears of joy! These little ones are on their way to a new and better situation and Consolete will start receiving counseling very soon and when she is able she will have visiting privileges at the children’s home. As horrible as this story is I am so grateful that MAF was a tool that God used to help this family. Thank you all again for helping us and for helping these little ones. As they say in Kenya “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!”