Here is the story of one of the homes we visited:
Meet Nicholas, father of five children. He is a pastor. When I met him it was not at his home; it was in the village. Tall, lean, warm and openly friendly with welcoming arms, an open heart and huge smile. NEVER would I have guessed the circumstances of his life without visiting him and his children at their home.
Nicholas’ wife Emily has been sickly for the past NINE years. She has been in and out of hospitals over and over again. She’s had various diagnoses, ranging from heart problems to high blood pressure to brain tumors. She faints, she is unable to communicate; she’s weak and only manages to move at a low level at best, but then is back in the hospital. Hospitals here in Kitale are not the same as in the West, especially District hospitals, which are the ones affordable for most. Expertise is limited, most diagnoses being either malaria or typhoid. Treatment is rarely effective; death is common. Nursing care is non-existent; food is, too. Therefore, family members attend the patient and also bring food.
Nicholas’ time is divided between the hospital, a long distance away, and the children at home. Money is scarce. When deeply questioned, he admitted he had sold everything to pay expenses to care for his wife. He repeated, “Everything.” Landlords had evicted him for non-payment over and over so moving is the norm. When there was no money for rent, he and the children sleep in the bushes or under an overhang. Today, a “well-wisher” has let him use this small house of two rooms. The children and the dad sleep in one slatted bed, with no mattress, no sheets, no blankets, no mosquito netting. There is no kitchen, no pantry with food, no closet with clothes. Dirt floor, mud walls, water seeping in from the rain.
Emily has been unconscious, unable to communicate for the past few months and getting worse. She was recently transported to their “home,” where her mother lives, because it is cheaper to transport her alive than after she dies. “Home” to all Kenyans is where their roots are, where their parents live. This is where they feel rooted, grounded, connected. It’s where they were born and where they will be buried.
We listened to Nicholas’ story as he told it, without whining, without complaining, without expectation. He communicated factually his life for the past nine years. Scrambling when home to find day work in someone’s field of maize or making bricks trying to get enough money for rent and food, then rushing the next day the long distance to care for the wife in the hospital. His strength, his humility, his devotion to his wife, his kids was heart-wrenching. To see him sit with arms around two kids leaning against him while he spoke, it was hard to believe this man who had NOTHING, I mean nothing, by way of material items, and all around him lack for even the most basic of needs, could even begin to cope with it all…day after day, year after year. Yet here he was trusting. Trusting in the God he knows, to provide what he needs—emotionally, physically and spiritually. A man, clothed in rags, with nothing to say “I am somebody.” Yet he stood tall with an inner strength and peace, that said, “I am somebody. I am known.” His brother standing with him, said, “We expect suffering in this world, but we know that with God there is peace and there is hope.”
Nicholas testified about John, Director of Liberty School, coming, helping, inviting the children to come to school each day to be educated, fed, and clothed. While others were abandoning him, looking the other way, rejecting him, John has stood with him. Five kids, ages three to twelve. Without the school, much of the time they would be alone, hungry, and afraid. Because of the school, they are loved, fed and educated. Very unusual for John, during Nicholas’ sharing, tears fell. Even though he has seen and heard so many incredibly difficult situations, this one was too much.
And, so we seven, we prayed…for Nicholas, for Emily, for their children…
We saw Nicholas two days ago. He reported Emily for the first time in months was conscious, communicating with him and doing somewhat better. Please pray with us for her complete healing. Nicholas is desperate for his wife to come home, be with him and be a mom to their children.