Why do we do what we do?
First of all, we (Horace, Phyllis, Troy & Dannon Leister) feel that God has sent us here to Kenya to advance His Kingdom! With that mandate, we feel He has given us a specific call to Family and Parenting.
We believe Family is a dwindling resource in all the world, but where there is so much separation of families through poverty, disease and abandonment in all kinds and degrees, Family is becoming almost extinct here in Kenya!
When fathers no longer have a concept of covering and protection for their wives and children or even their elderly relatives, because of joblessness or selfishness to live a westerners life style, their position as the head component and leader of the family unit disappears and with out a head the rest of the family body can not function and begins to disintegrate, leaving nothing but dismemberment and decade until there is nothing left!
Mothers and wives have no where to go for council and covering, no strong shoulder, supply or protection, for them or their children, from all that has to be faced in day to day living in a developing country, even in the most prosperous setting, trying to do it alone, can bring them to depression and desperation.
Children with out a father or a fatherly positioned person have no one to look up to and follow into life and all that it requires! They do not loose their way but have no way, because they have never been shown the way to live.
Grandpa & Grandma are the last part of the family usually still intact, having instilled into their children the need to take care of them in their old age but now because of what the next generation is facing and have become exposed to, even this is being set aside because of so much death and poverty through aids and other diseases in the younger generation, the Grandparents are now the parents of the children with out a future.
We are not Kenyan and do not presume to know all that is needed in a Kenyan family but we do believe that God called us! Not because we are the best at what we do or know more than anyone else!
We believe God sent us here to Kenya, because when He called, we answered “send us”, we were and are, just willing to build Family where there is none and give an example of His love so that others might be willing to see and follow Him.
Who do we help?
Because the need is so great, in the area of abandoned infants, fragile infants are who we have targeted to take into our home. Even though fragile infants take considerably more time and finances we have also found that the rewards are huge, in seeing the immediate change and growth. As they grow they are also much more excepting of their environment and their family because they have known no other.
More and more newborn infants are being abandoned! The mothers are desperate, not just because of initial feeding and clothing needs but also the extended needs, schooling, family, peer pressure etc.… these young women (usually) abandon their children because of unexpected pregnancies they have not thought would happen, then these pregnancies give them children they do not know how to care for or raise up.
Most times they are not accepted back into their larger family, which leaves them abandoned and alone!
The expectations on them to raise their children correctly weigh heavy and so they disconnect from the child and abandon them thinking they are doing the better thing.
Some abandon where they know the child will be picked up and cared for but most do not want to be connected in anyway so they dump the baby in rural areas, latrines, garbage areas etc.… knowing the chance of them surviving and being connected to them is rare.
The Kenyan Government has promoted a campaign that encourages mothers to not dump their children but bring them into the children’s offices and they will not be charged.
The children who live through these “dumpings”, are survivors, these are the children we have taken in to Tumaini. We know in our hearts these “survivors”, God has a great purpose for!
Where do the children we receive come from?
Most of the children we get here at Tumaini come from the local area and we receive them through a Hospital here in Eldoret. Moi Referral University Hospital is a government teaching hospital, it has two children’s ward, not my favorite places!
It also has an area built and sponsored by an organization call “ Sally Test” it was founded by the Test family and named after their mother, who had a heart for children!
This area is a big resource room, full of books and toys that all the children in the hospital can utilize! They also hold trainings for parents there. It has become the area where the abandoned babies get taken for care. This room is only open for 6 hours of the day, 6 days a week but it is a lifeline for abandoned babies. They get cleaned, fed, diapered and just plain cared and loved for, by trained staff!
The other alterative is to stay in the hospital ward! These areas are so full and have such few staff, the babies sometimes just do not survive this, even after they have survived the circumstances of their abandonment. The Sally Test area gives them a chance; we are so appreciative for these people! Our good friend Sarah Mamlin is their Director; she is amazing.
What makes Tumaini Children’s Home different than other homes?
What makes us different, we have stated many times, we feel God has sent us here to establish a Family Home, not just a home to keep children in but a Home for children to be a family in!
Again, we want to say, we are not saying this is the only way, there are many people who have great hearts to do this work, we have met many and are humbled by who they are and what they do for these children.
But we have a mandate to commit ourselves to being the parental figure to the children we have here at Tumaini, so that they will grow up knowing they have parents, siblings, aunties (our Kenyan staff) a real family, with God as the Head!
Our hope and prayer is that they may come in orphaned and abandoned but when it is time for them to go out into the world, as adults, they will know that they are not orphans but precious sons and daughters of the Most High God!
We have upped the standard of living for the children here at Tumaini, in hopes that the level of nutrition, experience, teaching and expectations, etc. will prepare them for the extraordinary life we believe God has in mind for them. Poverty is not what God has in mind for His people and we must eliminate that theory!
We have heard from many that we just do not fit into the mold of missionaries, we do not know if this is good or bad, what we do know is that God did not call us here as missionaries, He called us here as parents!
Godly parents are who we try to be, to everyone God puts into our paths!