A few days ago we trekked around Bikeke Village visiting some of the homes of the orphans who are being sponsored by Appleseed. (I think I mentioned earlier that orphans in Kenya are kids who have either lost or been abandoned by one or both parents. These kids are left with relatives who can ill afford to take care of their own, much less more kids, so oftentimes these orphans have very, very little in the way of food, bedding, clothes and rarely are able to attend school.) Stanley is one of the kids we went to visit. He’s bright, healthy, energetic and excited to get to go to school. While we were there, however, we had the great chance to meet Lillian. Lillian is 14. She dropped out of school some time ago. If changes are not made, she will go the way of many young girls in Kenya. Her parents want her to marry soon for two reasons. One, they will receive a dowry of several cows; and two, there will be one less mouth to feed. Lillian doesn’t know what she wants. She has little hope for a life any different than her mother’s. She has no initiative, no initiative to seek a better existence. The village is steeped in apathy and lethargy, a mindset that is bogged down in spiritual darkness and oppression laced with superstitions never quite satiated by prices paid to the local witchdoctor. As an example, there is the common practice of wives buying spells to hopefully ensure that their husbands will not have an affair or get a second wife.
Can Lillian hope for more than this type of life? Can she believe in a God that actually wants an abundantly good life for her and that He will even give her a way to get that life? We asked her these questions; we challenged her. Sheepishly, she agreed. “Yes, I want a good life.” We asked if she would come to school on Monday. “Yes, I will,” she said. Will her parents allow her to come instead of helping weed the maize or doing the wash or getting the water come Monday? Will she push her way out of a generational system that is masochistically content in their poverty? It takes courage and perseverance, a change of heart and mind. Is Lillian one who can do this? I pray against all odds, she will be a Margaret Thatcher and say, “Defeat? I do not recognize the meaning of the word!”