The Child Would Not Die or Be Silent

How long does it take for one to forgive their mother or father for what they did to them?” the little girl asked me. I smiled, but not from amusement. I was trying not to cry. Which was impossible anyway…because ever since I had walked into this children’s home and rescue center in Nairobi my whole system had frozen. God had taken over…I had known to be in prayer about this particular assignment the whole week. I had been invited to replace Pastor Terry Gobanga who was away – and it was not really about filling her really large and excellent shoes. It was about being asked to share wisdom with about 67 children…who were there not because their parents were no longer alive, but had allegedly become predators that orphaned the children they had borne.

This was the second rescue center, mostly inhabited by children who were healing from sexual violence, that I had been asked to speak at in a month. I wondered about that. But as I held a five week old baby girl in my arms, then later looked around the circle of about 30 eyes (the rest had been excused from my session for a play session with other members of the group we had gone with), I wondered how I could answer that question. Most of us, resent those that call us to account for the way we raise our own children: Mostly because they catch us at a moment, and make it about our entire parenting. But these were not ordinary parenting moments…although it seemed that it was becoming more normalized, this was a crisis.

In this particular home, all ‘except one’ (and I shudder at the use of those two words – because it was still one too many) had been assaulted by a mother, father or uncle – biological. Most of these children were in delicate security situations since their parents’ cases were still ongoing, and there was need by some clans to either “mute or get rid of the evidence.” Most of them were girls…but there were boys too…one too many. There were others who were or had been admitted in hospital, to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries to lend their lives some semblance of normality. Most of the girls were first borns of at least one of their parents, or their only female child. I looked at their Mum1 – the founder of this home…fourteen (14) years of mothering other people’s children in their worst states had not dimmed her life Light.

How could I answer the children? What would forgiveness look like for them? How do you answer a child who in one moment, or a hundred, had endured war in their genitals to satisfy the hungers of a parent who temporarily forgot that they were supposed to protect not prey on them? Does forgiveness mean that what happened to them was ok? That it should be forgotten? That the children should repent of these (Because they were so often stigmatized – Mum1 shared for instant how one ‘church’ had denied them baptism after going through the classes under the excuse of not being able to afford T-shirts.) Many of these children bore the brunt of these shameful acts against them again and again as they lived each breath with the rejection of the extended families to which they had once belonged – who had perhaps initially celebrated their births and birthdays – who now wanted to forget them for the shame they are accused of bringing home. “For why hadn’t they just died instead of crying out, or getting pregnant, getting an important benefactor and family member whose quaint habits could be ignored into ‘disrepute’ or incarceration for ‘just’ a moment? Why wouldn’t they just let this go and keep up the facade?” This seemed to be the attitude their families had towards them.  What exactly would forgiveness mean for these?

The nightmares needed to end, the healing to come. Forgiveness may be about the offender (e.g. When God forgives our sins it puts us in the best place with Him), but it’s more about the offended (Humanly speaking). You forgive even when the fault is not confessed or admitted to because if allowed to – one offense can define the rest of your life in the worst ways possible. Unforgiveness often translates to meditating on an offence and giving it the power to shut down the functioning of what is still functional in us to hit back at the offender and survive the offense. Meditating constantly on what was done to you gives a grievous injury even more power over you than  it had initially. It can colour, darken everything…take away your smile…your life. I cannot remember what I said to them, because I was praying a lot, and asking God to speak to His little ones.  But they smiled…and they spoke…and they gave me strength as well. There was nothing God could not heal. It was hard leaving the home, leaving them behind to go be with my own household…I had intended to leave by 2pm. I was there till 6:30pm. It was hard to leave these little ones that because they still suffered from parenting wounds had become part of my own story. Their hugs, the whispered stories after the main session, the tears they allowed me to see, and the feel of them as they held onto me while I prayed for them – made them mine – indelibly. As I left though, I realized that they were indeed in the best place they could be for now, having been rescued and that for this moment were truly safer because they cried out and refused to die.

But somewhere in this same neighborhood, in this country, in this globe, other children were unfortunately starting the journey they were walking. I prayed that their parents would be hit by Heaven’s Might, that they would not put their babies through this, and that the babies who had gone through this, would find Hope again, find God, in parental touches by those in whose hands God would place them in. I don’t know…

vipslit@yahoo.ca

Advertisements

Walking Naked: Blessed to Be Challenged

Today, while washing my face in the morning, I was tempted to rage at God for taking His time in keeping His promises to me. After all, doesn’t God’s Word in Proverbs 13:12 say “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.”amp. But in that instance, God took over my spirit, and a thought arose above that which had preceded it “Even if it takes 400+, 70 or 22 years, I will keep packing, keep waiting for Your deliverance for YOU WILL COME.”

I realised this: It does not dishonor God to acknowledge one’s challenge, pain [[i]Romans 4:18-22, [ii]Hebrews 11:11-12] – what dishonor’s Him is to raise whatever it is above Him. To say in essence that He brought me to this trouble, and then left me. He is not a mere man to resort to such – After all isn’t He The One Who became and then overcame manhood to retain His Divinity? And isn’t it what I am called to?

So, in the last weeks my family has gone through an intense increase of occurrences on attacks on our health, seeming brazen heavens regarding our finances, deep debt and are currently walking through a season of eviction and are at limbo over exactly where home is. Loneliness bites, as associations stream out faster than you could take your next breath. I have known deep despair to the point of seriously considering taking my own life. Worse for me, is seeing those we love go through similar and sometimes even worse situations, and finding ourselves in conditions where we could be counted as absent to them in their time of need, because we could neither go to them or be of any assistance.

Key for me, has been my parents. This week for instance, things have been so hard for me that most of the monies received has gone directly to the hands of my landlord leaving me with nothing left by way of transport to go to them. The cabbie who normally extends affordable credit to us was arrested earlier on in the week for obstruction, and being unable to raise the fee stipulated by the courts, finds himself in a remand prison out of town. This, aside from the fact that I already owe him too much to even ask him for assistance if he was available. This was the week in which I desired mostly to stand with my parents as Daddy went through his clinics to receive an update on his health status. But I have not been able to.

Yesterday, I was reading through the chapter in the book of Isaiah [[iii]Isaiah 20], where God commanded him to take of his shoes and be naked before Israel as a symbol of God’s intention for His chosen nation. As I read that, I too felt naked, and empathised with Isaiah – THREE YEARS OF NAKEDNESS! Each day he lived through that must have felt like a year in itself. People looking and not looking, while seeing and not seeing, and making often unkind judgements about where you are at. About how you are. About how it should be worse for you…

And yet, God is bigger than all these. A week later, although we are no longer thought of as tenants in this house, we remain in it. Packed, but yet undisturbed aside from the constant visits by the agent demanding what we owe. God has also directed my focus on Him as my true Home. He also led seven prayer warriors and three old friends to give towards reducing the gap on what I owe the landlord. I am humbled, we are grateful for their initiative. We still owe, and we still have no idea where we are going. God has been Good to us, His Grace constant.

In this time, members of my household have received one attack on their health after another. Each time, without fail, there has been someone standing with us, who obviously would rather be elsewhere or spending their resources on what would benefit them and theirs. God placed them by our sides to bless them, to bless us and bring Glory back to Him. It has been for me extremely humbling – so much that there is no sense of relief for having received for the perceived deep wounds by those who have given. Still, we have slept and connected with God in our sleeping and waking hours. This too is God and His Grace. Oh, and in each of these cases we have received courage, God’s promise and healing. My daughter who emits chaos and mayhem at the mere sight of an injection told me last night that she had by herself taken off the stitches she received on her forehead two weeks ago after a fall, because we could not raise the money for her to go back to hospital for their removal.

Shame is a luxury we can no longer afford. A close friend of mine who faces an eviction from her servants quarter house, who had for years received a salary of approximately U$5,000 told me the same. Her seeming downfall has been so public that she stands poised, enraptured, expectant of her breakthrough from God. She too has been an invaluable treasure to me in this season; You see, when the world seems to fall on you, we are tempted to think that God is picking on us and giving everyone else a vacation. It helps our sanity to have someone to converse it who is both compassionate and empathetic, because they are either walking or have walked that path. There are many others, who have passed through this while I was still in it, overcome and turned back to judge me for not getting out as fast as they have – that was our mutual story. I laughed all through our phone conversation this week – of cause interspersing each spasm of humour with a sincere ‘HalleluJah’.

So, today I hurt. I have no idea when God has scheduled my healing and breakthrough for, but I am not alone. The One in Whose Hands I have trusted my life, assures me that in a place above and beyond time – I have made it through. I have not failed Him. By His Grace, I do not have the timings and the details of how this will unfold, but He has already convinced me that I am blessed of Him to be this way challenged.

Shalom.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

[i] Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he acknowledged the decrepitness of his body (since he was about a hundred years old) and the lifelessness of Sarah’s womb.

Yet he did not waver through disbelief in the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God was able to do what He had promised. That is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22

 

[ii] “By faith even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive [a child], even [when she was long] past the normal age for it, because she considered Him who had given her the promise to be reliable and true [to His word]. So from one man, though he was [physically] as good as dead, were born as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand on the seashore.” Hebrews 11:11-12 amp.

[iii] “at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, untie the [a]sackcloth from your hips and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking around [b]stripped [to his loincloth] and barefoot. And the Lord said, “Even as My servant Isaiah has walked [c]stripped and barefoot for three years as a sign and forewarning concerning Egypt and Cush (Ethiopia),” Isaiah 20:2-3 amp

Strike Your Shepherd Scatter Your Brethren

The LORD IS my Shepherd.
Recently, Leroy (my son) and I were standing side by side early morning on our balcony, looking out mostly quietly at…just about anything that passed. Its where and how we bond many times. Suddenly a flock of sheep bust into our view (yes we live in Nairobi city) running in one direction in a way that reminded me somewhat of a waterfall. We watched, partly because there was nothing else to see at that time, but for me, because I sensed deeply that God was speaking to us about something.
 
Leroy remarked on the beauty of the flock, I agreed saying that God often spoke of us as Sheep. We noticed that a few of the sheep broke off in two groups, running in different directions from the rest. Suddenly the shepherd rushed into our view as well. He was a short, slightly built man wearing tan trousers, a luminous green shirt and a pink cap. I smiled. He had this long cane, that I believed could reach the from one end of the flock to another [his rod and staff – they comfort me].
 
Apparently the entire flock had herded and were eating from a place he did not want them to be. He rushed first at the majority of them. I marveled at his agility…knowing that this was a daily and day-long activity for him. He rounded the sheep…in my mind it seemed he chased them, rod in hand to the direction he wanted them to be facing, before running after the other five that we probably eating somebody’s house plants some way up our street, before finally coming for the two standing before our house.
 
Somehow, his activities made me think of leadership… of church leadership, and my spirit was humbled within me. Each one of those sheep had a mind of their own…but most tended to head towards the direction that the ones in the front row were headed. Some more independent ones got up to their own devices, in their own directions. Two things stood out for me from this morning scene – the passionate resilience of the shepherd in re-channeling the flow of the sheep to his way, and also, that as long as they were not following the way he wanted them to be on, despite their independence, the greenness of the meadows they ended up at, they were ALL wrong. And then my friend sends me this sadly hilarious video clip :). It reminds me of the biblical proverb – strike the shepherd and scatter the sheep. And that its not always an exterior enemy that brings down the shepherd, but a sheep in his or her care. Thanks Nyar Ruoth.
 
 
#HeWhoHasEars
vipslit@yahoo.ca

Perfect Stains

IMG_20170515_142112.jpgI have sensed in my spirit God leading me to wear my yellow Buobou with the pink and blue flowers, that I had not worn in a long time, since I woke up this morning. As ironed it, I noticed that it had stains, that in that light and given that it was a faint coloured garment, looked like faded blood stains. I wondered at this, because I wash my cloths carefully after every wear. It was otherwise clean. I tossed it into the place where I keep laundry making a note to deal with the stains as soon as I was done ironing. I went to the suitcase where I keep my clothes to make a choice about another outfit but sensed The Spirit of God speaking to, and nudging me: “So what if it is stained? It is what I want you to wear today. Don’t you think I knew that it was stained before I commissioned it for this day? I considered all about it, including those stains and knew that your wearing it in obedience would make it beautiful in My Eyes.” I got it immediately: He was talking about more than the dress.

Vip, tell them, tell them that I have said – ‘So what if she is stained? I have commissioned her for My Highest Purposes. I have taken into consideration that she is stained and that her stains are unhidden before the eyes of heaven and the earth; that I will be the beauty that drapes Myself as a Mantle about her. But she must not focus on her stains to give up, but on me to raise her to the peak of greatness to which I have called her. As she rise, her stains are obvious to all, and My Mantle about her will be obvious to all too. For her glory is Mine, and I have given Mine to her. Rest – enter rest.’”

I am calmed, deeply so, as I write this. I can enter rest from my strivings, – beautified by the word of God. Shalom.
vipslit@yahoo.ca

John 15:3 “You are Already clean BECAUSE of the word I have spoken to you.
Revelations 19:11-16 “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose Rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His Head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is DRESSED IN A ROBE DIPPED IN BLOOD, and His Name is THE WORD OF GOD. The armies of heaven were following Him, riding in fine linen, white and clean. Coming from His Mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron sceptre. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On His Robe and on His Thigh He has this Name written:
KING OF kings and LORD of lords

Called To Be Me

I love Romans 12:1-2. It has been, along with Colossians 2:16-23, Isaiah 54 and Proverbs 3:3-8, among the key scriptures that God has used as an extension of His Rod and Staff in guiding me through the narrow way in the past while. God The Artist. He did not create us to be like others but to honour Him by living to allow a transformation that would make us each, uniquely like Him.

Perhaps others struggle with conforming, as I am. A visiting friend shared with me some of the things she had heard said about me and my walk with God, that you can imagine, were less than complimenting. In her view. But as she said them, I gave thanks, understanding what God had deliberately called me from, and that He had been Faithful in working me to be different in some aspects that though offensive to some, honored Him. It was a good visit. She shared with my daughter and I, her own journey and after praying with us left us with a quote purportedly articulated by a servant of God; she said to us

“Someone had to be me – and unfortunately or fortunately for me (and others), I was called to be me.”

That settled it, one day at a time. God has lent me His Breath and His Time for SPECIFIC purposes. Every time I buy into someone else’ assignment and ditch my own, even if I succeed in these and gain the applause of men, I am simply wasting time and breath. God’s Time and Breath. He will call me to account, as all good lenders do, and what I did that wasn’t what He sent me to do, will be burnt with fire. I understood from this, that a major part of Heaven’s resourcing for the good works that God has laid for us to do, is Time and Breath. Exactly the amount of time and breath I need to do His given assignment.

So, whatever He has called you to be, a writer, banker, doctor, accountant, pastor, parent, spouse, intercessor, prophet, encourager, be that, waitress, house help, with all the Excellence of Heaven. He will come calling for fruit.  It may look simple, even shabby to another whose assignment and calling is more pleasing to the senses, but remember this; only I am called to be me. And God will call me to account for it. Therefore, be un-offendable and diligent as you spend His Time and breath His Breath.
Shalom

Behold The Man

The Man is betrayed by his friend in the inner circle; and his friends scatter because of the menacing cloud of enemies that surround Him; one of His friends stands his ground a while, and takes out his sword to inflict injury on one of His enemies, but The Man, stays his hand, and performs First-Aid on His enemy, in a way that would be envy of the best cosmetic/reconstructive/plastic surgeons of this century.
The friend who stood up for him, who follows stealthily somewhere within his crowd of enemies, will a few hours later deny ever knowing him. The accusations against The Man are flimsy at best, ridiculous, false, but not one of the ones He so powerfully blessed is brave enough to stand up for Him. So they take away His name, tarnish His reputation, and He will not defend Himself. The slander against Him, kills Him literally. And yet His enemy is given no reprieve, for God rises to now cloud and shake the world, to open and spill out the contents of graves, and to tear at religious barriers that kept His people estranged from Him. Three days later, The Man walks – no longer dead. And God lifts Him up, and seats Him on a Throne before which both His friends and enemies must stand at some point in eternity. For The Man, on earth robbed of His Name, Heaven bestows A Name, The Name at which all knees buckle either in Loving Faith or in Terror.
 
Let Heaven name you for the name the earth has taken from you for your loving service for God. God is Worthy!
 
“Kite ne kit Nyasaye nyaka e chakruok,
to ne ok otuere ni nyaka osik marom gi Nyasaye,
to notimore gima nono,
Nokawo kit misumba,
mi odok dhano mana ka wan,
kendo konenore ka dhano kamano,
to nobolore, kendo no winjo wach nyaka tho,
mana tho mar msalaba!
 
Mano eomiyo Nyasaye ne Omiye duong’ ahinya e polo,
kendo Omiye Nying’ moloyo nying’ duto.
Kamano gik moko duto manie polo
gi manie piny kon manie bwo piny,
Omi Nying Yesu duong’,
kendo ji duto mondo ohul ni
Yesu Kristo e Ruoth,
Mondo Nyasaye Wuoro Bende Oyud Duong’.”
Jo-Filipi 2:6-11 (Philippians 2:6-11)

From Traditional Birth Attendant to Birth Companion – Jane Mukuyi’s Story

Jane Mukuyi4.JPG“My Grandmother was a ‘Mkunga wa Nyumbani’ in Chepkaka where I grew up,” begins the elegant 66 year old mother of four. “Of my many siblings I was closest to her. From the time I was 12 years old, I would assist her perform her vocation. She would send me for things while I watched her deliver women of their children. When I got married at the age of 21, and moved to a nearby location, I too, started practicing. My grandmother’s reputation had preceded me and they assumed rightly that I was likewise gifted and inclined.”

Jane was a nursery school teacher. She, however, gladly volunteered her services helping women through pregnancy and the delivery of their children. “When a woman, in the places where my husband and I lived, suspected that she was pregnant, she would seek me out for some sort of clinic. I would wake up at around 6am to find them waiting outside my house, most of them not having even washed their faces. They wanted me to touch their bellies and let them know the progress of their babies. They would come for me to massage them with oil, or just because they had woken up from an uncomfortable night. Many came in as many times as thrice a week during their pregnancies. In the latter parts, I would massage them to ensure the baby was presenting well. I have since learnt that this could mess things up for the baby and the mother.” She says sadly.

“When a woman went into labour, depending on our agreement and her condition, I would either go to her house or she would come to mine. In mine they would deliver in the kitchen. In theirs, it depended how many rooms they had. The idea was that men could not be part of the process. If there was only one house, they would make themselves scarce.” She remembers.

“If one of my women was due, I would prepare a herbal concoction to rub her down with during labour. The woman would get down her knees, legs apart. She was not supposed to have had a bath before labour. I would guide her to push down the baby. Twice there were complications that led to the babies coming out leg first, but thankfully I successfully managed all such cases without a single fatality. I never delivered a child that was in breach. In a normal situation, I would wait for the head of the baby to present, then using my thumb nail, cut her down there to allow the baby to come out. Once the baby was out, we would use one of the mother’s garments, normally a dirty one, to cover it. We would cut the cord using the bark of a sugar-cane. The woman had to stay indoors for three days. She would not bath. She would use an item of clothing that she had worn to get to the Mkunga’s house to catch her flow. It was all very dirty and unhygienic, and yet I knew no other way. Some of the children I helped birth are now married or even in university. I know of five that died before the age of three years.”

Nine years ago, Jane was one of the TBAs that the Ministry of Health reached out to, in response to a WHO policy, to train in emergency child birth and transform into Birth Companions. Until then, she had never met or known of any other TBA except her grandmother. “That is when I realised that we were conveyors of ill health and not of life as I had previously thought.”

abraham-wanyonyi1Behavior Change Communications Coordinator Abraham Wanyonyi of Save the Children elaborates on this. “More than 50% of unskilled deliveries are conducted by TBAs. They have gravely impacted on the Ministry of Health and their partners’, GlaxoSmithKline and Save the Children – Kenya’s attempts to get women to deliver in hospitals under sanitized conditions. They can therefore not be ignored in our efforts. The National  Health Policy 2007 – 2012 provides that they stop providing deliveries and accompany expectant mothers to health facilities. This was just a statement, and there was nothing to support it in terms of making this a reality.” This is where the partners came in. They use the training curriculum adapted from AMREF’s Linda Afya Mama Na Mtoto to reorient them on their roles, give them a small reimbursement towards transport, and have monthly meetings with them.” He says.

“For many of them this is a calling. I remember that when HIV became widespread many TBAs in Western and Nyanza provinces were wiped out by it. You can imagine the hygiene issues, the infections, I mean many health facilities are still struggling with hygiene control. These challenges are more than doubled in a poor old woman’s house.” Abraham laments.

Jane is now an unrelenting firebrand with regard to getting women to attend clinic and deliver in health centers. From being the one sought out to offer clinics, she now accompanies those who do, and seeks out those who are resistant sometimes to the point of having interventions that involve the husband or the chief to get the women to go. “They are tough but I am tougher. I go with them for their initial clinic, then for the fourth of the five mandatory times, and then for delivery. I will ride with the woman on the bodaboda ambulance, and will only deliver if there is a roadside emergency. Otherwise, I go with her to the health center, and stand by her taking care of her needs throughout labour. I act as the link between her and the health facility staff on how far she has gone, and also alert them if I sense there is trouble. I will also accompany her back for post-natal clinic.”

Nurse Violet Nyongesa.JPG58 year old Nurse Violet Nyongesa, of the Bunyala Sub-County Hospital dons the Birth Companion Apron in solidarity with Jane for this interview. She describes the Birth Companion’s role throughout the maternity journey as crucial but thankless in terms of remuneration. “With all they do, we are not even able to offer them a cup of tea. They have really helped raise the number of women giving birth in health centers from 30 to about 100 in a month. We are normally understaffed, with about three nurses on duty at any on given time. When they come in with the mothers in labour, they stay with them. They get them water to shower, clean them after delivery and give them clean linen. They are also usually much better able to communicate with the women than we are. They are really part of the team.” She speaks softly. “I know it is better for a woman to deliver at a health center, despite the challenges we face, because of the sterile environment and because we are able to deal faster with any challenges during the process. The baby is also kept warm. When a child does not cry at birth, we are able to resuscitate them. It is also easier to register a child who has been born in a health center as opposed to at home.”

Jane now makes a living from her farm and also receives support from her four grown children of whom she is very proud. “The training that the partners have given us have earned us renewed respect within the community. The uniforms they have provided makes us stand out in a good way. We are also involved in Table Banking. I love that I am now helping give life the healthy way.” Concludes a smiling Jane.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

Why Women Preferred Being Delivered by Traditional Birth Attendants, By Abraham Wanyonyi, Behavior Change Communications Coordinator and Communications Point Person in Save the Children Kenya, Bungoma Office

  • Facilities often understaffed and have little attention during labour whereas with a TBA it’s just the woman. She receives a lot of tender loving care, the backrubs and encouragement.
  • The language often used by the TBA is gentle as compared to that used by the overworked, little appreciated Health worker.
  • Men who find health facilities crowded have access to their wives during labour to support them.
  • Socialisation, everyone in your family has been delivered by a traditional birth attendants, its difficult for women to start a new trend especially at her in-laws.
  • The TBAs are part of the community. With Devolution in particular people may prefer to be attended to by someone from their own communities than a well-trained ‘outsider.’
  • Distance to the health centers make it preferable for women to walk into the TBAs house during labour.
  • People feel safer with older, and more experienced women.
  • Perceived high cost of delivery even in public hospitals whereas TBAs are compensated with what you have. A leso, a chicken etc.

Story and photos by NaMeD Afrika Studios, Kenya

First Published on The Standard Newspaper’s Wednesday Life Pullout, September 28, 2016

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/lifestyle/article/2000217596/no-more-giving-birth-at-home-for-women-in-kenya

 

%d bloggers like this: