The pandemic disrupted the kids’ schooling for seven months. Now they are on a difficult, if not untenable, make-up schedule. Travel restrictions kept me away from Humanity Home for sixteen months. To reduce the risk of Covid, staff were required to live at HH. The kids were basically confined to the compound. Through all of this, Humanity Home somehow emerged as a stronger family than ever.
The older girls at Humanity Home are amazing. They constantly jump in and help with just about anything without even being asked. Tity is a fantastic leader and example. We missed her terribly when she began boarding school. The first day she was gone, one of the younger girls came to Judy crying, saying that it was getting dark and Tity was not home. The oldest girl, Maryanne, designated herself to be in charge of grilling on nights we have chicken or goat. She often dishes up the food, taking great care to make sure each individual child receives good portions. Whenever there is some treat, she will make sure every younger child in the house gets served before she helps herself. The younger kids adore her and copy her every move. Her sidekick. Annah, really blossomed when Judy had her baby Taraji. If you ask Annah to do one thing, she will do the next three steps without being asked. She adores the baby, and Taraji adores her. Taraji shrieks with glee when Annah gets home from school. Maryanne and Annah will begin boarding in eighth grade in March. Judy and I are heartbroken. Rosie has to be chased out of the kitchen because she loves to help. Rosie began boarding at school in July, but enjoys seeing her siblings at lunch time. The next age group, Pam, Cecilia and Jenipher are constantly pitching in and assuming the roles of the older girls.
Tobias, age twelve, went from being a handful to being a responsible, helpful, nice youngster who is fun to be around. We aren’t sure what happened. He is quick to help other kids with things like making paper planes, constructing homemade toys, and doing homework. The boys love to help with chores like bathing the dog and cutting up meat for her food, making fires for barbecuing, and any project.
Overall, the kids are great. They don’t squabble or fight. Because they very rarely complain, when they do, we listen. They are always helping each other and playing or working together. Virtually every day, we marvel at little acts of kindness that we see the kids doing for each other. Here are some examples. Sitting next to Daddy at story time is coveted. One evening soon after the new girls arrived, Valarie had staked out a spot next to me. Newcomer Nelly joined the group and Valarie promptly offered up her spot. When the new girls arrived, they needed things to wear before we could shop for them. The other kids lined up offering to share their things. Our kids are on a mission to have a great family, and every one of them gets it.
The experience of welcoming new kids really captures what HH is all about. Judy and I meet the kids at their place of origin. Conditions in those places are abject. When we know a child is entrusted to us, we immediately feel intense connection to and affection for that child. After all, they are coming to us with nothing more than the clothes on their back and absolute dependence that we will care for them. One of the things that we have to do is take them for a medical checkup including an HIV test. The HIV test is done with a finger prick and a test card. The nurse sets the card on the table and we wait for the result to appear right before our eyes. One line is negative. Two lines is positive. Absolutely gut-wrenching. Our new girls were negative. Such relief. At dinnertime, I think perhaps Maryanne put a little extra beef on Nelly’s plate, but the meal fairly represented what we feed the kids every day. Nelly’s eyes were as big as saucers. She glanced around to make sure this was really for her. Violet was one of the village kids who would watch us pass by on our walks to the river and dream about being one of us. Now she is. As Nelly and Violet explored their new environment, with real beds, a solid building, jump ropes, balls, toys, story books, a new and better school and new uniforms, new clothes, shoes and adults and kids treating them with love and kindness, they looked like they had died and gone to heaven.
We continue to improve our infrastructure. In 2021, we added a 10,000-liter water tank, put in solar power for the kitchen, painted the upstairs hallway, remodeled Judy’s rooms, added a fire escape door, added a refrigerator, installed shelving and made electrical and plumbing repairs, and other improvements.
Every night at supper time, we experience the sublime gratification of seeing children whom we love enjoying a decent, nourishing supper. We try not to think about it, but always in the back of our minds is what their lives would be like if not for Humanity Home. We constantly tell them that we love them, in our words and our actions, and they reciprocate to us and among their brothers and sisters. It is impossible to underestimate the difference it makes in a human being’s life when somebody cares.
Living in this unique family, there are so many stories. I try to post some of them on Facebook. To see current happenings at Humanity Home, friend Jim Cederberg on Facebook.