08 Aug Faces of Children of Hope: Our Village
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
1 Peter 4:10
The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” stems from the belief that it takes an entire community for a child to grow in a safe, supporting and nurturing environment; this philosophy is alive and well in our homes. This month, we want to put the spotlight on our village, the groups and family members that have made this dream a reality and have given our kids an opportunity to thrive.
After meeting numerous orphaned and abandoned kids on a trip to Kenya, our founders, John and Sharna felt a calling from God to do more. As a team, they decided to create a safe space for children to grow and thrive and by 2007, Children of Hope was founded. Today, our family has grown to 100 children under our care, 46 staff members in Kenya, 3 in Colorado, 10 volunteers and 265 donors.
The rapid growth and need for change can be traced back to the incredible thoughts, prayers and support from all of our generous donors, supporters and volunteers. We have created a network of support and love from around the world. It is thanks to every single one of you that we have been able to create an all-star team in both Colorado and Kenya who work tirelessly each day to empower our children and push them to shine and become the best they can be. Your support allows our kids to reach their full potential and live a life full of love, integrity and belief in God.
This month, we want to share with you stories and blessings from some of our supporters and volunteers. Each of these individuals and groups has helped us grow in numerous ways and have opened their hearts and generosity to our children. Thank you for your love, energy, donations and prayers.
Sarah has been part of the Children of Hope family since our beginnings and first visited in 2012 with her husband during a mission trip where we had a medical, dental and vision clinic at our home for the community. While the kids were waiting to be seen by the doctors, Sarah had planned fun activities and games for the kids to enjoy; it was truly a blessing having her vibrant personality in our space. Through games, smiles and a calm presence, the kids’ nerves faded away.
A couple of years later, Sarah came back to Kenya with two of her children and brought gifts for all of our kids as a surprise. She had sewn felt animals with the purpose of having an arts-and-crafts session with them. Through this activity, the kids had the chance to name their new friend, stuff them with cotton and even pick-out their noses and eyes. The toys were made with so much love that the kids started bringing their new animals in bed with them every night for years to come until they started falling apart; they had a good life.
With every visit, Sarah sparks extreme creativity in our kids through crafts and projects. Her artistic background and appreciation for life make everything she does sparkle. More recently, Sarah’s work on the Children of Hope Gala committee has helped make the past two fundraisers a great success.
Sherry has been part of the Children of Hope family since 2016 and has been the heart, center and creator of the postcard party sewn items. The postcard party is a day of prayers and gratitude which is meant to celebrate our kids and give them the opportunity to feel the love and support from their family abroad. Each kid receives a goodie bag which contains a handwritten postcard from their sponsor as well as a small gift. As we continue growing, Sherry has been incredibly generous with her time and has hosted sewing groups to share her exceptional seamstress abilities and teach volunteers how to sew and make the bags.
In 2017, the kids received hand-sewn pencil bags and last year, each of the kids received a string bag which was sewn by Sherry and other volunteers. To the kids’ surprise, each of the bags contained a pair of sunglasses. The kids immediately put them on and expressed how cool they felt in their new shades!
Valor High School
For the past few summers, we’ve partnered with Valor High School, a Christian high school in Colorado that sends 16-20 hard-working high school students and 3-4 staff/leaders to complete community projects in Kenya. The most popular event hosted by the Valor kids has become the highly anticipated Vacation Bible School (VBS) which is held every June at our Kitalale home.
The Kitalale VBS has grown incredibly in the past few years and gathered approximately 1,300 kids from the neighboring area last summer. During this event, the local congregation comes to our home and helps the Valor kids lead and organize themselves for a packed day of fun. Throughout the day, there are plenty of games for the kids to engage with each other and make new friends. During the lunch-time break, the kids eat some food to help fuel them for the remaining activities. As the day wraps up, Valor volunteers always bring new songs and bible stories for the local kids to share with their friends and family for years to come. Before heading home, each of the kids gets a goodie bag to take all their crafts and coloring pages with them.
A big part of what we do is create local, sustainable impact and change. We empower and provide local volunteers with opportunities to come to our homes and give back. Kenyan volunteers typically come in groups organized by their church, school, bible study group or a partner organization looking for a Community Social Responsibility project. Some of the amazing local organizations and people supporting us throughout the years include:
- Uthiru Bible study group. Last year, this group visited our Kikuyu Home, brought some supplies and prepared a very special meal for all of the kids. They also organized several team building activities for the kids which allowed everyone to have a day of connection. By the end of the day, the Uthiru bible study group gathered all of the kids and taught them some prayers before heading home.
- In Kitalale, the Deliverance Church (which our kids attend) typically sends volunteers to our home during maize harvest times to work alongside our kids and staff. The volunteers teach our kids about agriculture, farming and how to pick maize from the fields.
- Embrace is made up of various artists, musicians and other talented young individuals. Last year, this group volunteered on several weekends to teach our Kitalale kids about music, dance and have an arts and crafts sessions.
It makes us incredibly proud to see some of our very own staff members being agents of change and being Children of Hope ambassadors within their own groups and communities. Recently, Kefa (our head cook in Kikuyu) organized a visit to our home with members of his church. During this day, they brought supplies and they played with the kids for hours.
Our kids love having guests in our homes. Even though some of our kids might be shy at first, they eventually warm up to the visitors and end up teaching them their choreography.
Working together with God and every single one of our volunteers and supporters, we’ve been able to nurture our kids throughout the years. Since the day we opened our doors in 2010, several of our kids have since then grown up, finished college and have transitioned into independent adulthood.
We continue to appreciate and thank every single individual that has played such an important part in the lives of our children. If you’re looking for ways to get involved with us and join our family, feel free to message Emily Huber our Director of Donor Relations. We are always looking for volunteers to be part of our movement. Whether it is being part of the Gala committee, helping out with sewing or other creative projects, or simply championing fundraising initiatives and sharing our stories, there is room for everyone interested to contribute their talents to the Children of Hope family.