Night was falling and one by one, my five children had quieted. Our home, which was normally full of activity, was still. I settled into the rocking chair in my darkening bedroom with my three year old daughter in lap. As soon as I sat down, we snuggled into our comfortable, familiar positions. She faced me and molded her little body to my chest. I began to rock, and lifted the back of her shirt to place my hand on her back. She reached around me and slid her hands up under my shirt and wrapped her arms around me. The faint strains of a lullaby drifted from a CD player in my daughters’ room across the hall. The only other sounds were Roseline’s deep rhythmic breathing and the creaking of the rocking chair.
Softly, I kissed her forehead, hair, and cheeks. Then suddenly, my heart was flooded with familiar grief as I thought how unfair it was that she spent the first two years of her life without a mother’s love. We fought for two years to bring her home and all of that time, there were no soft lullabies for my girl but the endless sound of babies crying as they each competed for a caregiver’s arms. Roseline had no one to rock her so, she learned instinctively to rock herself.
At these thoughts, my sorrow threatened to turn to anger and so I did the only thing I knew to do. I rocked her, kissed her and I prayed.
“Dear God, heal her wounds….
Fill those old voids…..
Redeem all that was lost……”
My baby girl’s eyes closed and a sleepy smile drifted across her face and my thoughts turned to the orphans in the Sudan who would never know what it was like to be rocked, held or comforted. I thought of the number 278 and I wondered how long it would take me to get to that number if I counted the creaks my rocking chair made.
Creak forward….#3, on and on…..
“278,” I thought. “That’s a big number…”
When Kimberly Smith, executive director of Make Way Partners, found James teaching under the trees, he had 150 orphans looking to him to share his education with them but he had nothing else to give. No food. No medical care. Not even a shelter to provide shade blistering Sahara sun.
Today, James has 400 orphans and thanks to the generosity of many he has open air classrooms where the children can at least have a roof over their heads. He is also able to feed them every day and on Wednesdays they even get meat. At this very moment, he is desperately working to get the funding to buy materials to finish dormitories for the little ones before the rains come. The children need shelter. They need protection. James knows.
He can’t forget the number 278.
You see, until the dormitories are built, the children will continue to sleep in the bush. As night falls, the fastest ones scale the few trees and sleep in the branches, but there aren’t enough trees there in the desert for all of them and sometimes…they tumble to the ground in their sleep.
Children sleeping in trees? Why do they sleep in the trees?
They sleep in the trees because of the 278. You see, last year between January and October, James lost 278 orphans to nighttime hyena attacks.
278 little ones became the hyenas’ prey.
Well, there were a couple of them who died from other causes. They found one little five year old girl the next morning after she had been drug off in the night and raped….to death.
I know these horrors are difficult to read about, but they are even more difficult to live. Kimberly told me that when she first laid eyes James and those motherless children under the trees, she knew she could not turn away from them. Everyday Miracles is about spreading hope, not about fund raising but once I learned about the 278 I found that I, like Kimberly, was unable to turn away.
You can make a difference. James has supplies to build those dormitories but he needs funds to get them out of Kenya and safely to Nyamlell. If his story has led you to do something to help these little ones you can donate at Make Way Partners or African Leadership. Together, we can be part of the everyday miracles in Nyamlell.