by Juli Salvante

While Rocky and Beatrice, who is the secretary for St. Monica’s, went to go pick up the rest of the girls uniforms, I sat with Father Augustine in his car and we had a very direct and honest conversation about the girls and their plight.

Father Augustine is an older man who has dedicated his life to helping these girls.

Father Augustine from St. Monica’s Children Home in KenyaHe was working in the slums of Kibera and had many requests from the Christian community to find homes for orphaned girls. He sold plots of land that his father had left him and purchased the building that is now St. Monica’s Children Home, and the house next to it which he rents to generate income.

The Father’s parish originally agreed to help, and did for a time, but then the help stopped and Father Augustine was on his own. He called on his friends when he had no food left to feed the children he had taken in. Luckily, his friends were able to come through. He raised the funds that were needed, the home continued and the Father was able to add more and more girls.

When he is approached about taking on more girls, he will visit them, or their relatives, and hear their stories. He requires a death certificate of the Mother and Father, if there is one listed. This is because the girls that are here now have a common bond. He doesn’t want to bring in a girl whose Mother is still alive, as it might cause issues with the girls whose Mothers are not.

The first five girls who came to the orphanage were living on the streets. A couple were living with their Grandmother, who had no home.

Many had been sexually abused by relatives. They were abused – by Uncles, Fathers and Grandfathers – to the extent that Father Augustine is still seeking medical care for one of the girls because she was damaged so badly. He is paying for it himself.

All of them needed special medical care, some more than others. He stated that a few of them will never be able to have children themselves.

Father Augustine is working on getting the girls the counseling and medical care they need to overcome the horrible scars they have been left with, both physically and emotionally. He is only one man. He has so many girls to care for. His heart is as large as and I have seen.

Kenyan Slum Trash PileThe way he spoke so frankly about the girls was startling and refreshing at the same time.

He knows the subjects are difficult and uncomfortable for a man to speak. Uncomfortable, like the time he spoke to Rocky and I about sanitary pads for the girls who have started their periods, or the conversation we had in the car. We were sitting in front of what I can only describe as a strip mall, rows of shacks that people have their businesses in, while watching a boy scavenge a horrendous trash pile. Father Augustine described, as matter of fact, the atrocities the girls had overcome with the help of his caring staff and the donations of kind souls.

The girls are happy and loved and have a family here at St. Monica’s. It is truly amazing what they have accomplished with these girls. But there is more work to be done.

The girls are getting older and many will go to high school. Here in Nairobi, that means boarding school. He is so proud of what the girls have accomplished withe their school work and believes that many can succeed in college as well, if given the opportunity.

Six girls will be ready to move up to high school soon.

The Father and his staff are doing all they can to make sure that they have the funds to send these girls. It can only be done after all other expenses are covered. The schooling is about $700 – $1000 per girl for the school year.

He will need lots of our support. Luckily, I know many of us are ready and willing!

A Mother’s Love

October 8, 2007

I believe that the power of touch is amazing.

Girls at St. Monica’s Orphanage in KenyaThese girls, my girls, long for it. The women here told us that no past volunteers have loved and accepted them like we have. I believe it is because we are Mothers.

A Mother’s love is powerful.
These girls crave it.

Juli and I can’t stand alone for too long before children surround us, just to be near us, to wrap their arms around us and hold our hands. This is the easy part of the job. I can do this all day long.

My friends, I hope some of you will join me on my next journey back to Kenya.
I hope you will love these girls just as much as I do.