By Sara Tischauser
Love, support and prayer have no bounds and thousands of physical miles apart cannot prevent Seymour residents from making a difference in the lives of some Kenyan children.
Badi Iddi, manager of the Lord’s House of Hope in Kenya, said prior to Joe Wilson (codirector of the Lord’s House of Hope) coming to Kenya in 2006, Iddi didn’t know much about Seymour.
“He [Joe] told me stories about Wisconsin,” Iddi said. “[I] just knew about U.S. and not Seymour.”
However, Iddi over the years has found out just how generous the Seymour community is.
After Joe’s visit, Joe gave a presentation at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Seymour and shared his experiences. After Joe’s presentation his mom, Judy Wilson and Barb Selmer decided to go to Kenya.
After Wilson and Selmer visited Kenya they were moved from their experience and felt compelled to help build an orphanage in Kenya to help the children.
“We felt moved to build Lord’s House of Hope for 40 children,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Emmanuel Lutheran Church has been helping with the orphanage from the beginning. The church helped with early fundraising efforts and gave lots of prayers and support. Wilson also said that the entire Seymour community has helped with the orphanage.
The orphanage opened on Feb. 28, 2012, and started with 11 orphans and Iddi said now the orphanage is home for 44 youth and has room for about 50 children.
Iddi said that in the time the orphanage has been open, he has seen the children prosper from their time at the orphanage. Children at the orphanage are able to attend private school, which Iddi said really helps them prosper as the public school in Kenya doesn’t have the best resources and teaching opportunities available to students.
The schooling aspect is one of the important pieces that Iddi said wouldn’t be possible without the continued support of the Seymour community. He said that the Seymour community has helped sponsor many children which helps pay for the children’s’ schooling, food and other basic necessities.
Wilson said sponsorship has even grown to include people outside the Seymour area as more and more people are sharing what is being done at the orphanage. In addition to the financial support a sponsor offers, sponsors also offer prayers and show each child there is someone who cares.
Strengthening the relationship between the sponsor and child is very important. In addition to the money, Wilson said sponsors can also write to the child, pray for the child, and send packages if the sponsor wishes. She said some sponsors even go visit the children at the orphanage and the sponsors who are unable to go to Kenya often Skype with the children. The children in turn pray for the sponsors. This relationship helps the children feel more like they have a home and help them know there are people who care about them.
In the six years the orphanage has been open, Iddi said he has seen the drastic changes that have happened in the lives of the children. He said without the caring and support of the Seymour community this wouldn’t have been possible.
“It [orphanage and sponsorship] really means a lot especially to the children and the children really do appreciate because without that support these children would be out on the street,” Iddi said. “Now they [children at orphanage] are in school and chasing for their dreams.”
Prior to the orphanage, Iddi said many of the children had no hope of succeeding in life.
“Those kids when they joined the orphanage they couldn’t even be outstanding or speak for themselves, and with the love and care they are receiving from this house, these children they gathered much confidence and they believe in themselves and believe that they can do it,” Iddi said. “Some can even sing in church and stand in front of people and there are those who are developing very good art and can do paintings without supervision.”
In addition, to the schooling the children are able to get, Iddi said the changes he has seen in the children come from more than just receiving a school education.
“Some [children] came in when they were really down and there was no love, no care,” Iddi said. “But now they believe that they are really loved. They feel there is someone there who is really taking good care of them.”
In addition to having a sponsor for each child, Wilson said the orphanage also has many one time donations and proceeds from the annual golf outing at Thornberry Creek at Oneida Golf Course. Wilson said this additional money helps pay for expenses beyond the day to day cost of living.
In the past some of the money from the golf outings have been used to buy the children Kindles which allowed the children to have current textbooks. Wilson said the money was also used to buy a washer and dryer for the orphanage which cost $8,000 and $7,000 respectively.
The Lord’s House of Hope 10th Annual Golf Outing will be Aug. 5 and anyone who wants more information on the golf outing or wants to make a donation can contact Tom Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone wanting to learn more about Lord’s House of Hope is invited to a presentation from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. on Aug. 14 at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Seymour. The Outagamie County Extension will be helping host the event.