“Everyone’s Child”

This past September, I had the opportunity to return to Africa with a group of missionaries who were visiting the mission house in Kenya. My goal was to be able to thank and spend time with the people who had done so much to help me complete my dissertation. During our stay the students at Lanet Umoja Primary School held an assembly for all of us as we were representing the sponsors of their school. For several hours all the classes skillfully performed songs and dances. During the program a group of twelve students read a short piece they had written. These students represented the orphans who attend Lanet Umoja, and all of them had benefited from a program started by the teachers the previous year called “Everyone’s Child”. This program is described below:

Kenya has a large orphan population, mainly because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has ravaged the continent of Africa for the past several decades. Orphaned children often live with relatives and commonly have to do without, especially if the family is large or funds are scarce. With this in mind, in 2006 the teachers decided to have a day called “Everyone’s Child” where they would ask families to donate goods for the students who had been orphaned. Families in the area responded positively, bringing clothing, food, money, and whatever else they could to provide for the needs of these children. The program left a lasting impression on me, enough so that I gave the title of “Everyone’s Child” to my dissertation. The orphans, for their part, were extremely grateful, and read the following piece during the assembly expressing their gratitude both for the program as well as the sponsors of Lanet Umoja Primary School:

Read by the orphans at Lanet Umoja Primary School on 9/19/08

Death! Death! A cruel and merciless visitor.
At first we lost our dear Dad.
Life was difficult with a single parent, yet you were not satisfied,
You came back and robbed us of our mothers, our only breadwinner and hope in life.
Desperate, we were left wondering, “TO WHOM DO WE BELONG?”

Today our worries are gone, since in every desert of calamity
God provides an Oasis of Hope. We owe a lot of thanks to our dear teachers and Lanet Umoja parents who sat under the leadership of Father Thomas and thought of us.
A club was initiated in the name of “EVERYONE’S CHILD”
Yes, for to EVERYONE we belonged.

The late Bishop Eddie had us in his heart.
He loved us; he cared for us, for to him we belonged.
May the Lord Jesus rest his soul in peace.

To the Community of the Crucified One
To you we belong.
Sr. Catenna (Kateri) to you we belong.
God is wonderful and merciful for the year 2007 God sent Sr. Ruth
Our plight she felt, and needful she did. Meal on the table she put
For to Sr. Ruth we belong.

EVERYONE’S CHILD has a special message to special people:

FATHER PAUL: To you, Father Paul we belong, who, just like Bishop Eddie, let
EVERYONE’S CHILD enjoy your love.

Remember Bishop Eddie laid a firm foundation of EVERYONE’S CHILD
The rest is left on you
Will you build on that foundation?
Or will you let it crumble?
But to you we belong.

Here in school we have enjoyed your love
Our worries are “What if we leave this school?”
Orphans as we are, we need your shoulder to lean on forever, for to you we belong.