Memoir of my first visit to Nairobi on the eve of our departure

Kelly at Hands with Hope Orphanage in 2009

I will be leaving for Kenya on March 1st.  It will be my first visit to Hands with Hope Orphanage since November of 2009 when I first laid eyes on the children.  As I prepare to make a trip back to Nairobi I have been reflecting on the day I first stepped foot across the threshold of the place these 30 children call home.

It was a beautiful day in Nairobi, the sun was shining, there was an excitement and nervousness in the air.  We walked down the red dirt roads of Njiru to Hands with Hope.  We were on our way to pray for the children at the orphanage and though this was the moment I had dreamed about since I first landed in Nairobi I was suddenly gripped with dread. 

It had already been a long couple days in Nairobi.  Mike and I had come face to face for the first time with what poverty actually looks like.  We danced and sang with the new friends we had made, we worked long hours introducing children and adults to their first lesson on how to use a computer.  I had cried and prayed with local women who told me of their hardships in their families, struggles as they tried to run small businesses, and the heartache that comes with the environment where they live.  I had poured out all that was within me.  When we arrived at the orphanage I summoned the strength to play soccer and to pray with some of the children, but I was only going through the motions and I was completely withdrawn.  I left exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed.

I never would have thought that my reaction would be to want to leave as quick as possible and it would take me a long time to realize WHY a woman who has such a passion for children would react emotionally in this way.  I truly felt like a terrible human being.  I was ashamed of myself and I was an emotional wreck from that day until the day I boarded a plane out of Nairobi and I thought I would never come back.

What I know now is that on the day that I first saw Hands with Hope a seed was planted in my heart.  It was not planted by the gentle fingers of a gardener in soft soil. It was planted with the force of a stake being driven into the hard ground.  Drilled down into the very foundation of my being – and it was a painful process.  It was a physical heart-quake that would rattle the fabric of my being forever.

So in three days I will step off a plane and once again breath in the scent of Kenya.  The hard feelings I possessed have been resurrected and have blossomed into HOPE.  We will be traveling to Kitale to see the farmland that we hope to purchase with the donations to Light Up Hope.  I will be able to reach into the soil and plant my dreams for the lives of these children.

I will again come back changed, but this time with renewed perspective, additional stories and images to share with each of you, because this is no longer just my story it is the story of each individual who is grasping to their own seed of hope for these beautiful children.

~ Kelly Little, Founder

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