Dear friends of Habil and the orphans and elders,
As I think about the images of Christmas—a baby, angels singing, wise men gathering to offer gifts—I appreciate the joy, but I also know that the next chapters in that ancient story hold great pain. It has been a year filled with more significance than usual, both joyful and sobering, in our work and relationships in Kenya.
A huge goal was met with Habil’s son, Don Ogolla, graduating from the University of Nairobi Medical School, thanks to the incredible generosity of donors from Ouray, Colorado. Don will begin a six-month internship in Kisumu in April and then be ready to practice on the Nyakach Plateau.
Mama Faith (Habil’s wife) almost died of cerebral malaria, reminding us that medical care is a desperate need for our friends. It was at great family sacrifice that she was able to get to a hospital, and she was treated on the same day only because Habil knew someone who had the authority to circumvent the system. However, instead of being treated with the modern malaria medicine that we use to treat patients when we go there, she was treated with quinine. This is the malaria treatment that has been used for thousands of years to which local strains have been resistant for years. Thankfully, Mama Faith got better in spite of the treatment and recovered in time to go to Don’s graduation ceremony.
In another dramatic turn of events, we have had a gift of $50,000 to build our new health center if we can find matching funds! Since we learned of this gift one month ago, we have received another $25,000 donation plus many other generous gifts. Our total gifts for the health center to date are now over $120,000 of the $150,000 that we need for the building! With 80% of the money in hand, we are going to give the go-ahead to Habil to have the builder immediately begin work. There is great hope and joy among all of us who have waited a long time for this moment.
As I shared with you in my last letter a few months ago, I have been in treatment for cancer, and after surgery and radiation treatments that were completed a few days ago, the outlook is as positive as it can possibly be. Thank you so much for your kind emails, cards, and prayers through this journey. In addition to being incredibly grateful for the positive outcome, my personal struggle throughout the experience has been to deal with the grief and rage that I feel knowing that I have the privilege of cutting-edge, curative medical care in a world where Mama Faith almost died due to lack of transportation, lack of a doctor, and lack of a simple treatment of twelve pills. As I tell students, this is the lesson of Kenya. We love our friends so deeply, and we find great joy in sharing resources and hope to empower them to meet their goals. But it is this personal friendship that also makes us feel so keenly the pain of their lives compared to our own. I am grateful for this lesson and hope that I will always have the motivation of anger that is redeemed by the exuberance and confidence of hope.
I hope that you share a sense of the vastness of the grace in which we live and move and have our being. In this present moment, I am deeply thankful for you. God’s peace, friends.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Executive Director, Straw to Bread