Broken Homes, Broken Hearts

This week at the government-run children’s home I grew quite attached to a little boy who arrived just a couple of weeks ago with his twin sister and older brother.  His name is Diego, he is somewhere between a yr. and a half and 2 yrs. old, and after 2 weeks of nutritional injections and medication, he now weighs approximately 17 pounds.  His story made me physically sick as I heard it, and has continued to break my heart and provoke my mind, so I thought I would share it with you:

In Kenya, polygamy is not only legal, it is entirely socially acceptable, and practiced widely.  In Diego’s case, his father had 2 wives and 2 families.  When Diego’s mother committed suicide, his father locked him, his twin sister Christine, and his older brother James (around 3-4 yrs. old) in the house, and left them to die as he moved on to continue life with his other family.  After some amount of time, a neighbor heard them crying and called the police, who brought them to the govt. home. I’m not sure what will happen to them now – if they will somehow wind up back with their father, be placed in a more permanent home, or remain in the govt. orphanage indefinitely.

Diego’s family isn’t the only one that’s divided in Kenya.  Nancy and Veronica are two of my closest friends here, and their father has another family as well, with daughters who rival Nancy and Vero.  The girls cannot stand to be in the presence of their half-sisters, and yet this is just life. It’s not devastating or abnormal, and in their opinions, it’s better than the divorce we as Americans understand all too well.

Too many families have stories like this.  Too many children have a father with 2 families, or don’t have a father at all.  And too many have been orphaned or abandoned, left to grow up in orphanages or struggle on the streets.  I can’t help but wonder what they must be going through and struggling with – or what they will struggle with in the future.  I have plenty of my own fears and insecurities, and my mother didn’t commit suicide – she’s one of the most incredible women I know; my father left me to live a different life, but he didn’t abandon me to die; and I haven’t been thrust into a completely new and unsteady environment, left to fend for myself.

And yet, one of the things that has continued to amaze me about the Kenyan people, is their appreciation for life, even in the muck of day to day struggles.  From the youth living in the slums of Mathare, to my boda boda (motorcycle) driver, and everywhere in between, those I’ve been blessed to talk with have an immense appreciation for the life they’ve been given and the day with which to enjoy it.  To see broken families I pray will always break my heart, but to see the joy and appreciation in people who are more concerned with survival than depression certainly puts into perspective what I consider my own trials and tribulation.



~ by eileendekker on July 18, 2011.

One Response to “Broken Homes, Broken Hearts”

  1. I have often wondered what Jesus meant when he said, “store up treasures in Heaven”. What treasures? Everything will be provided. We will constantly be bathed in God’s glory. So, I thought that maybe the “treasures” are people who God has placed in our path that we might say or do something that would, in some small way, contribute to their coming to know Jesus. Not that we might boast or take credit, but that our joy “might be made complete”. I don’t know, it’s just a thought; but a sweet one. So, when I see the pictures of your “treasures” in Kenya it makes me feel honored that you have been a part of my life and that you have allowed me to be a part of yours. May you be blessed in all you are doing. I love you.

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