22 May Faces of Children of Hope | James, Alex, Kefa & Mary
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Mentorship and empowerment can take many forms. This month, we are going to highlight the magic that happens in our kitchens. Feeding 100 kids requires a team effort so any additional help is greatly appreciated. With the leadership of our talented head chefs, some kids have jumped on board, learned the necessary skills and earned a spot as assistant “sous-chefs”.
In our Kikuyu and Kitalale homes, adults work collaboratively to serve as mentors, figureheads and teach the necessary life skills and values to our kids. Within our walls, the Children of Hope staff are also part of our family. These individuals are caregivers that see what they do as a calling, not just a job. They are family. Year-round, all of the Aunties, Uncles and staff members go above and beyond to dedicate their hearts and souls to the healthy development and nurturing of our kids.
Meet the chefs (Champions in the Kitchen)
When hiring for our home’s head chefs, the interviews alone weren’t enough to determine who had the heart, commitment and passion to cook nourishing meals for our kids day in and day out. We took a probation period to tell whether the selected candidates had the passion and grit it takes to be part of the Children of Hope family. Both James and Kefa made a lasting first impression, and once the kids had given them the seal of approval through their probation, we knew we had found the two newest members of our family. We were blessed by their level of care, leadership and talent. Their passion for the kids and the kitchen has allowed them to thrive and become extraordinary mentors. Since day one, both James and Kefa have led the kitchen and managed to feed many bellies and made the kids very happy.
James, the head chef at our Kitalale home, joined our family in 2010. He previously worked at a seminary in the town of Kitale in a similar capacity. Kids look up to James as a fatherly figure. We feel truly blessed to have his talent and care in our home.
Kefa is our Kikuyu head chef and family member since 2014. Before joining our team, he worked for a restaurant in Kikuyu until he found out through his church that we were looking for a head chef – working in our home was his calling. Kefa’s love for children and talented skills in the kitchen made him a perfect fit.
Meet the “sous-chefs”
Every superhero needs a sidekick. In our homes, kids are always eager to support the operations and help adults in any capacity. In each of our kitchens, there are two additional cooks aside from James and Kefa. When the day gets busy, the cooks can surely count on Alex and Mary for additional support. Both have shown passion for the kitchen and the art of creating food.
In 2011, Alex and his sister Joy joined the Kitalale family. After the loss of their mother, Alex and his sister Joy were left in the care of an aunt who was unable to provide a safe environment for them to grow up in. Soon after, Alex and Joy found a loving family in our home and were able to grow into the smart and kind kids they now are today. Alex passed his primary school exams with incredible grades and was admitted into one of the best high schools in Western Kenya. He is now in his second year of high school.
Alex’s deep passion for adventure and desire to try new things has led him to the kitchen. His culinary explorations allow him to experiment, try new recipes and and let his imagination run. With James’ mentorship and wisdom, Alex has been able to develop into a talented sous-chef.
In 2008, Mary and her older sister Margaret were living in one of the major slums in Nairobi. The Children’s Department rescued them both from imminent danger when they saw that their mentally challenged mother was not able to care for the two girls and brought them to our Kikuyu home. Mary is now in grade 7 at one of the best primary schools in Kikuyu and has grown into a dependable, loving and intelligent girl.
Mary gets satisfaction out of helping the Aunties and Uncles with house duties. When she is not doing her homework Mary is either sweeping, mopping, doing dishes or helping in whichever way possible. Despite always being willing to help, the kitchen is Mary’s favorite place for house chores as she likes learning traditional Kenyan recipes and wants to learn about the cooking process.
Witnessing Alex’s and Mary’s growth throughout the years is the reason we do what we do. Today, Alex’s hands are covered in wheat flour which is a stark contrast to when we met him on the streets when his hands were covered in dirt. We are blessed with James’ and Kefa’s support which provide the necessary love and care for our kids to prosper. This is a testament of God’s doing.
It takes a village to raise a child, and in our case, 100 of them! One of the greatest gifts we have is the love and dedication of our staff members. It is because of their hard work and unconditional love that we’re able to give the opportunity for all of our kids to grow into strong, successful and independent adults. It is also because of your ongoing love and care that we’re able to provide the opportunity for these kids to thrive. It takes $100 a month to fill each of our kids bellies and, in turn, feed their minds. We encourage you to make a one time or ongoing donation that will support the growth of our beautiful children.