“When 30 kids who have barely anything start blessing you with such faith, you know you have a lot to be thankful for.”
That is what junior Ginny Melby emotionally recalled of her experience this mid-winter break.
Melby, her family, and 20 other people spent break aiding children in Kenya through an organization called Kids Alive Kenya.
This was not the first time that Melby and her family visited a foreign country in the name of service. They have also traveled to the Dominican Republic 3 times with 2 different organizations: Kids Alive International and Samaritans Purse.
“We usually go with ministries that we support to see their work,” Melby said. “It’s not so much about sightseeing than it is about seeing what they really do.”
Melby’s father ,Scott is on the board at Kids Alive. Kids Alive Kenya provides a home for children of any age while teaching them necessary life skills.
“They raise these children to be useful, productive citizens for their country,” said Melby.
The organization itself displays great pride in their country. In fact, almost everyone who helps to raise the children is native to Kenya.
The children attend elementary school on campus before moving on to a public high school, where they are usually at the top of their class. They continue to live with the organization until college, which Kids Alive Kenya also helps to fund.
“The children have such sweet, hopeful spirits. Most of them wanted to be doctors, or lawyers, or pilots,” said Melby.
When she witnessed 5 college graduates who had previously lived with Kids Alive Kenya visit the younger children of the organization, Melby was touched.
“You could tell how much the younger children really look up to the graduates,” Melby recalls. “What is so sad is that they [Keep Kids Alive Kenya] constantly have to turn children away because they don’t have enough room. That’s why we want to help.”
Within the organization, there are different campuses in various cities across Kenya such as Nyando and Kurundas. Most campuses include a meeting center and a boys and/or girls home. Melby also visited the Mt. Kenya boy’s home with the president of Kids Alive, Al Lackey.
“[There are] great accommodations for Kenya but definitely not what we are used to here,”said Melby.
Melby and her family also visited the church that some of the children of Kids Alive go to in Kisumu, a city in Western Kenya.
“What really hit my heart was when one 16 year old orphan girl got up to sing Count Your Blessings,” said Melby. “What more can I say?”
Along with visiting the actual campuses of Kids Alive Kenya, Melby traveled to various parts of Kenya such as Kiberu, the largest slum in Kenya.
“Those pictures on TV of starving children and orphans on the streets became real to me,” said Melby.
Most of the children who live with Kids Alive Kenya are found to be HIV positive before entering the home. However, if it is found early enough, the virus can be reversed.
Melby and her family support Kids Alive Kenya even when they are at home. In fact, Melby’s sister sponsors Joyce, a girl at the Kurundas home, by donating 35 dollars a month to go toward providing the child a good education, medical treatment, clothing, food, and a true sense of identity.
“Sponsoring allows you to become a part of a child’s life and show them that people outside their home care for them. They will send pictures and letters to you. It’s a real person who is actually thankful for you, not just a face,” said Melby.
“The whole trip was extremely eye-opening. At first when I got home, I started to feel guilty for all that I have and how I unintentionally use it so selfishly. But then I realized that I’m in a position of great opportunity to help these kids, instead of just feeling sorry for them. If I can, I will,” Melby said, “I left a piece of my heart in Kenya, and I’d love to go back someday. Maybe I’ll even work for Kids Alive.”
If you would like to contact Kids Alive visit www.kidsalive.org or call 1-800-KIDS-330.