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May 11, 2014

Cullman based organization seeking sponsors for Matching Orphan’s with Mothers program

The first time Steve James went to Kenya he was on a mission to fulfill a dream of his late daughter, Brittney. What came of that mission is in most eyes, nothing short of a miracle.

Brittney had been the sponsor of a Kenyan child by the name of Newton. James went there to meet Newton and bring him some gifts. While he was there he did some volunteer work in a hospital in a town called Migori.

Toward the end of his stay, James encountered a man lying on the ground outside the hospital. The man was dressed in rags, was skeletal, and close to death. James stopped to speak to the man, and perhaps offer a prayer for him. That conversation turned into a pivotal point in both their lives.

It turned out that the man, whose name was Victor, was indeed dying. His wife had already passed away from complications of HIV, and his two small children were about to become orphans unless the man could get some help for them.

As James listened to the man’s story, he became overwhelmed with the poverty and the desperation in the man’s voice as he begged James for $40 to marry a woman who would then take his children.

“I told him that I was almost out of money but that I would pray for him. I cried when I had to tell him this,” recalls James, who would later have vivid dreams and be haunted by the memory. “I had to leave for America shortly, and I never saw Victor again.”

Two years later, when he returned to the Kenyan hospital he asked a local pastor if he knew anything of the man. It turns out that he knew Victor, and that he had passed away. James inquired of his children, which started a search that led him to another village where the youngsters were living in squalor with their grandmother, ill herself and not equipped to take care of them.

That’s when the miracles started. Cullman resident, Carole Williams, sent James $100. He used the money to purchase shoes and clothes for the children and their grandmother, in addition to corn, beans and a blanket.

The children, Victor Jr. and Stancy, had no underwear. The had sores on their heads and ringworm, in addition to the extended bellies of the malnourished. The gifts that James brought were not just tokens — they probably saved their lives.

Now that he had found them and given them substance, what next? God’s plan unfolded as James found an empty church in which to start an orphanage. His first two children were Victor and Stancy. There was room for eight more …200 showed up on opening day. “We had no room,” said James, sadly. “We had to choose the neediest eight out of all the others who were themselves in need.”

Because he had looked into the eyes of desperation, starvation and near death, James determined that he would somehow, someday, with God’s help, find a way to take care of more of these children who were abandoned and forgotten by the world.

Within a month, he had found a way to take in 36 more children, all with tragic pasts. “It changed their lives,” he said humbly.

Victor Jr. tested positive for AIDS, but his sister, Stancy, did not. Today, both are alive and free of sickness because of Kenya Relief, the non-profit organization that James started with help from so many people in and around Cullman. “Victor is doing well, the other children are also happy, strong and no longer malnourished,” said James.

Children are often found at the gate, left in the night by Good Samaritans who know that they will be fed, clothed and educated at the orphanage, now called Brittney’s Home of Grace. Some of them are babies, who are transferred to other facilities because presently there is no infant dorm for them here.

“We hope that within the next year we will have a place ready to care for babies,” said James confidently.

That confidence has grown stronger over the years because of what he has seen happening in Kenya. Because of the generosity of people who want to help, people who care about children they have never seen, people like you who have traveled to Kenya to see this miracle unfolding, or sent money to continue its progress, lives are being changed on a daily basis.

Because of donations and people who have given of their time and talents, the children at Brittney’s Home of Grace now have full bellies, clean water (with help from the Cullman Lion’s club) a safe place to lay their heads at night, people who care for them and educate them, and most importantly, love…

“We have a school for them until they reach the sixth grade,” James explained. “Then they go to boarding schools, which we pay for, whether we have the money or not,” he laughed. “Later, they either go to trade school or to a university.”

The objective of the Matching Orphan’s with Mothers (MOM) program is not to find adoptive parents, but to create awareness of the need, and to locate sponsors for the children. “We want to educate them and have them stay here and be leaders and productive citizens of their own country,” James clarified. “We were once able to take care of one orphan for $75 per month, but costs have risen with our ability to provide more house parents, medical supplies, food and teachers, so that now it takes more money per child.”

Instead of expecting participating sponsors to increase their donations, James and his staff are making every effort to locate additional sponsors to help with these added expenses.

“This money goes to help 158 children, 80 of whom live on the compound,” he added.

The compound now consists of two dorms, one for the boys called ‘Matthew’ and another for the girls, called the “Carla” dormitory, a hospital and a school. Before James dream became a reality, there was nothing like this anywhere in the area. Children in dire straights usually died painful, slow deaths from starvation and neglect.

“We now offer quality of life, medicine and education,” he said proudly. “We provide dorm parents, cooks, teachers, security, and our children are thriving.”

“We are not in the adoption business,” he stressed. “We want to make a difference in Kenya so that poverty and starvation are obliterated. We do this through education.”

If you would like to be a part of this effort, reach out to Pat Livingston (Child Sponsorship).

Email: flyingpigs@bellsouth.net or Cell: 1-229-726-2384.

Be a part of the miracle which began with a little girl’s prayers for children who were starving…

“What better Mother’s Day gift than to invest in the life of a child?” asked James.

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