In the fall of 2004 Nancy Rowe (a nurse) met Drs. Nan & Gerry Hardison in San Diego California at a Mission retreat at her church in Tierrasanta. Nancy heard of the Hardison's work with the large number of suffering orphaned children and their great needs in Maseno, Western Kenya. The Hardison's invited everyone at the retreat to come visit them and to see for themselves this country's extreme poverty conditions.
In June of 2005, Nancy and her co-worker, Elaine Sorensen traveled to Maseno, Kenya to visit the Harridan's. During this time, the two nurses made home medical visits on this short-term mission trip. The huge numbers of orphans, with very little food, safe homes or medical care, appalled the women. They realized neighbors were taking in the children into their homes, even when they themselves were often in dire need. Florence Oyosi and other Christian women in rural Maseno accompanied them as they traveled from home to. Florence later confessed to Nancy that these visits "forced" the women to see for themselves the great needs behind the doors of these poor thatched huts. Nancy, Elaine, Florence and the others could no longer ignore this situation.
Upon Nancy's return to the States, she shared the great needs of this African area. More short-term mission trips took place. More nurses came, as well as an agriculturist, her Pastor, children ministry workers, and others. Everyone that visited felt a tug on their heart for the precious orphaned children. More prayers were offered. Nancy talked more with her Kenyan friend Florence about the possibility of developing an orphan sponsorship program. This greatly excited Florence. She said the ladies had been meeting together to pray since 1998, wondering how they could help one another out of this poverty and help the many orphaned children they were surrounded by. Florence and Nancy emailed back and forth to work out the logistics of finding US sponsors for the orphans on a most need basis. Again they continued to put their fate and faith in prayer.
Soon 12 US sponsors found, then 14, then 17, with the current count of 104 in 2015!
It is an exciting ministry with the US sponsor promising to pay $25 per month for the child, which covers basic food items, some hygiene products, school uniforms and fees and miscellaneous help with self-sustaining products like chickens or seeds to plant. Letters and photos are exchanged between the sponsors and child, and the program is surrounded in more prayer. God indeed blesses us.
The program officially began in the Fall of 2008. His Arms Orphan Sponsorship Program became a reality thanks to the Lord! This name was chosen by Florence and Nancy because it is what they envision for their precious children. They could finally feel safety, love, nurturing, and caring in the "Arms of the Lord" through the generosity and involvement of the US sponsors. We know HE cares for these children. Now we want them to feel that love!
In the Fall of 2009 Nancy and some of the sponsors parents were able to visit in person all of the children being sponsored in their homes around Maseno, Kenya. It is such a joy to see the children progressing, gardens growing, and laughter all around. It was a blessing for all. Nancy also monitored and audited the business part of the program at the Kenya end.
Currently, no one is paid within the USA and only 15% of the fees are used in Kenya to compensate Florence and her workers. Women that act as overseer caregivers monitor the children in their home environment and make sure the children are adequately cared for by their guardians. The children meet for a Christian based program and support on a regular basis. Education is offered as far as agricultural, hygiene and safety issues. Children are monitored medically with some being HIV+. All children's privacy is appreciated with the use of the word "orphan" downplayed by the program. Children that are HIV+ are respected with privacy as far as their status as well. Our children are seen as important gifts from the Lord.
The vision of the program is to have more children sponsored through the program by identifying more US sponsors. Florence and her other workers already have identified several children that are on the waiting list should sponsors become available.
As the program was reviewed and evaluated in fall of 2009, there was a discussion about orphanages for these children verses individual sponsors. The women of the Bidii group (meaning struggling in Swahili) had great input to Florence and Nancy. It was stated that culturally, orphanages are not always accepted. Some of these children are already disrespected by society as the "product" of AIDS parents that have already died. The fact that they are orphaned further casts negative "shadows" over these children. Then to "put them in an orphanage" might further decrease the respect of the people according to the women. They felt, by having the children in various homes where they are "adopted" as part of a new family offered the child more stability and sense of belonging as opposed to an orphanage type atmosphere. The support His Arms Orphan Sponsorship is great blessing in making this a reality. It was also pointed out that our first 17 children actually all improved in school. Thus it seemed it is all a healthy fit.
We continue to surround this program in prayer. With increased numbers of sponsored children and our thorough evaluation of how we have been running the program we remain diligent in what is always best for our precious children. They are each a precious gift of God. We realize the treasures the Lord has given to us to oversee. Thus we continue to bathe this program in prayer for God's continued blessings, guidance and direction.
Nancy Rowe & Florence Oyosi
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