It was brought to my attention that perhaps some of our friends do not understand why we took in teenage orphaned/abandoned girls. So I thought I would give some of the reasons we do what we do.
Kenya is a modernizing place. There are cities and cellphones, but large parts of Kenya, in fact, the majority of Kenya is still rural and slagging behind. In the village, perhaps even in our village, I am not sure since we are new here, men dominate everything. If a man wants two wives, he takes them. If a widowed or single woman refuses a man who wants her, he either takes her anyway or kills her. I know this because it is the sad story of how one of our daughter's lost her mother and ended up living with us. In fact, this child has siblings including a twin brother. Her uncle took only the boys and left our sweet daughter to fend for herself saying he didn't want 'girls.'
When a person dies, there is much superstition surrounding their death. People in Kenya fear death so much so that the children of a deceased person are considered a curse, a burden to society and no one wants them. In the case of girls, they are only good for a few things: sex for the dominate males in the village, herding cattle (thought that is mostly a boy's job), and servanthood in the home.
More than half of our orphansnomore have served as servants in someone's home for NO PAY. Historically, we called it slavery. Now, I think it is called abuse. According to my daughter's tales, they were forced to wake at 4am, take care of the babies in the home, wash all of the laundry, prepare the meals, clean the house, dig in the garden, care for the elderly and be the last person in bed after midnight, all why struggling with the loss of their parents and being only 7 or 8 years old. The 'slaver' consideres it an act of kindness to house a cursed orphan and make her his 'worker'. What the child receives out of the deal are crumbs that might be left on plates after her owner is finished eating, and a small room to sleep in. Grace, Mercy, Teresa, Mary, all have worked before moving in with us, and possibly Sarah, Sarah, and BT as well. I need to ask them!
In most of these cases where my children are concerned, they were practically 'sold' to the person who 'hired' them. In Grace's case, her guardian at the time was the one receiveing Grace's wages, and Teresa worked just to have lodging. Mary was being sold by her grandma who couldn't afford to keep her anymore to a man on the other side of Kenya just before we rescued her. We stepped in just in time. Mercy worked for a roof over her head as well, having been left locked out of her own home when her mother died. She was 7 years old. Due to the sensitivity of the topic, I will not go into which ones were raped, but that is a huge part of the servanthood deal.
Now these are the personal stories of my own children, but the truth is, any girl in Kenya without parents has noone to fend for her, to protect her. And a TEENAGE girl will be abused in so many ways.
Another angle to think about is that most 'orphan care projects' do not take in children in their teens. Teens come with baggage, traumatic pasts, and aren't as cute nor moldable as babies. And when a child reaches a certain age in most institutions, they 'age out' of the program putting them back into sticky situations.
Our teens are not cute cuddly babies, and they came with a past, but 8 years in, and they are beautiful, well adjusted people who are not going to 'age out' of our family. Will they move out? One day, yes. At the moment, they are all in junior high and high school. They will one day get a job and 'grow up' just as any child does. Hopefully, it will be a smooth transition with our help.