The first week of December 2016, a few days after Steph and I along with our 7 youngest kiddos moved to a rural village in Kenya, we were in Bungoma Town checking out the city nearest to our new home. While at an outdoor shopping center, we came across a group of 5 boys that were all dirty, carrying bottles of glue, and begging us for money. This was our first experience with street boys, or "chokara" as Kenyans unaffectionately call them, which literally means "one who eats trash". A security guard quickly intervened and chased the boys away. Curious to see the wazungu (white people) and hoping to get money from us, they came back. The guard saw them and chased them away again, this time threatening to beat them with a stick.
A few days later, we found some of those same boys again. Eugene was among them. We soon forged a friendship with Eugene and the boys he stuck close to. Every time we were in town, they managed to find us right away. We would feed them and buy them juice or sodas and enjoyed getting to know them and their stories. Eugene was very hardened, always high on glue, and spoke no English. Through translators, we learned that Eugene's father left him and his mother remarried. As is often the case in Kenya, the stepfather did not want him and would not allow him to live with him and his mother. So, he turned to the streets at a very young age, although we don't know exactly when. He was 8 when we met him.
The more we got to know Eugene, the more I knew we had to help him more than just feeding him when we went to town. I knew when we had the construction of Mercy Home far enough along, he needed to come home with us to be cared for, loved, discipled, and educated. Although many doubted that Eugene could be rehabilitated, I knew that God had sent us to Bungoma for kids such as him.
July 1, 2017 Eugene threw his glue bottle away and came home! The first few days were a bit rough for him as he came off of the glue, but after a lot of sleep and a few headaches, he was physically ok. It took him some time to adjust to being part of a family and following rules, but once he realized we really loved him he began to thrive. Here we are 10 months later and the changes in Eugene's story are night and day. Where as he once was hardened, he is now a sweet loving kid. Where as he once struggled to communicate, he is now speaking full sentences in English. Where as he once was angry so much of the time, he now is mostly happy and playful. Where as he once struggled with schoolwork and following rules, last term he was #1 in his class!
Eugene's story is changing. So many stories of other at-risk kids are also changing here at Mercy Home. Thank you so much to every one of you supporting this ministry through prayers or finances. You are truly changing their story!