In 2016 a group of college-aged students spent their summer in Kitale, Kenya.
Over 500,000 children are orphaned and living on the streets in Kenya. Most are destined to a life of crime, poverty, and abuse. These children are referred to as "Street Children" and marginalized by the culture they live in. Many of them resort to sniffing glue to stay warm and diminish the effects of hunger. Most are either abandoned or find that life on the street is a better solution than the situation they are living at home.
The day I met Moses my heart was stolen. As I asked him questions, I found him to stand out from the others. He was silly, goofy, and never stopped talking. He was gregarious and loud and yet gentle and kind. He acted as an older brother to the younger street children and was always helping when given the opportunity. I saw so much potential in this "street child" and I knew instantly that I needed to do whatever I could to send Moses to school.
For a Street Child, going to school is an exit strategy from life on the streets. The problem is that schools cost money and these boys can't beg enough for the costs of tuition, uniforms, and books. School is a fantasy for a street child. But I could tell that Moses was the type who work hard and be determined enough to no longer be called a "street boy."
One by one, each of us Americans began finding "our Moses." We couldn't stop. Everyday, there would be another kid that we desperately wanted to send to school. As college students, on a limited budget, we could only afford to send one child each. Fortunately, there were seven of us and we offered schooling to Moses, Big Brian, Little Brian, CD, Kevin, Kennedy, and Joseph. We prepared for school uniforms, fees, and moving them into a new dorm to get them off the streets. We prayed for the others who were heavy on our hearts. As days got closer to the end of our trip, we received texts from people back at home, asking if there was another child that could be sponsored. We were thrilled! Soon Brian, Kelvin, Peter, Tom, and Jude would join the original seven boys at their new boarding school! By the grace of God, 21 former street boys now attend school in their bright green uniforms adorned with red backpacks. It's a beautiful sight and one that is in stark contrast to the ugliness of the streets.
A year later I returned to Kenya with the goal of providing a home for the boys. While they had [dorm] housing during the school sessions, they were forced back to the streets every few months when school would shut down during break periods. Other children with family and resources would return to a home. The majority of our boys had nowhere to go but back to the streets or to an unsafe home. My new dream was to find a loving home with parents for the boys to live with when school was closed. I met an amazing pastor and his wife who said "yes" to this audacious vision. I'm still stunned. After a period of house-hunting and fundraising we've been able to move the boys into a home with a loving family and they are completely free from the street. They are children again!
From these two incredible summers emerged Milele Home. Meaning "Forever" home.