NEW FRIEND – Red Deer resident Susan Pankiw spends time with a youngster during a visit to Kamembe

Major fundraiser planned for Home of Hope Kenya

City church continues to expand range of ministries in Africa

  • Jul. 17, 2013 3:09 p.m.

Children and babies are continuing to be saved, protected and nurtured through several African missions spearheaded by Red Deer-based Word of Life Centre.

And to further the work in Nairobi, Kenya, a major fundraiser is planned for July 27 at the church, with a presentation beginning at 7:15 p.m. It’s part of the church’s family camp, but anyone is welcome to the fundraiser.

Funds will support construction of a facility in Nairobi that will house 90 rescued babies, said Susan Pankiw, sponsorship coordinator of Home of Hope.

“We’re really excited; the presentation is completely different from anything we’ve ever done,” she said. “Our construction is in three phases. The first floor would have a training centre, our Kindergarten, probably a feeding program. The second floor would house 90 rescued babies, and would be where we could bring them to health and then transition them into a family hopefully.” The top floor would be for teams and Dream Centre staff.

“The sooner we can get this built, the faster we can rescue more kids.”

Currently, staff are housing 41 babies in two rented homes and are out of space, so the goal is to begin construction on the facility later this month.

“Our first goal is to help 10,000 kids on a monthly basis and we do that in seven ways – sponsorships, feeding programs, an animal project, micro-loans, helping pregnant mothers, school and the ‘Stella’ Project in Kenya, where women are moved out of slums into apartments and given capital to start a business.

“So right now, we are helping just over 5,500 kids.”

There are also Home of Hope missions set up in Rwanda, Congo and India. The work in Congo is the newest to the Home of Hope spectrum of ministries.

Several years ago, the church launched Home of Hope Rwanda which supports orphans by linking them with families. Aside from the orphanage work, the ministry also educates people and provides job training. ‘Micro-loans’ have been granted for ventures in gardening, farming and the selling of used clothing, smoked fish and charcoal.

As of September 2009, Word of Life Ministries, under the direction of Brian Thomson, assumed leadership of Home of Hope India as well. Home of Hope India had been under the direction of Bob and Kay Hoover since 1982. Over the years they had rescued hundreds of boys with desperate needs and raised them to be successful adults in the village of Kuzhipanthandalam.

Provision of food, clothing, education and Christian training are also at the heart of what local teams do when they travel to help with Home of Hope.

And as Pankiw points out, one of the goals is to nurture the abandoned children, get them strong and healthy and hopefully into loving foster parent homes. That way, there will always be room for more rescued or abandoned babies – a tragic and common occurrence in a garbage dump near Nairobi. Kenyan slums are amongst the poorest in the world.

Pankiw has seen firsthand the horrendous circumstances that so many are trapped in throughout poverty-stricken Kenya. She spent one month there in the spring of 2012.

“I had seen all the pictures, and I had always wanted to go on a mission trip and help children.”

Pankiw recalls the experience of walking through the piles of garbage looking for abandoned children.

“I wasn’t afraid for my safety – I was afraid to find a baby; dead or alive,” she recalls. Staff work to connect with mothers considering leaving their babies there, and there are also signs indicating there is another option at the nearby Home of Hope facility. The team spent several days in Kenya before heading to Rwanda.

“I felt really numb. It was hard to take it all in – I couldn’t even process it until I got home after the month of being there – I cried everyday for a week.”

Pankiw also journeyed back to Rwanda and Kenya this year as well.

It doesn’t get any easier to deal with what one comes in contact with, but there were bright spots. She got to meet a special little someone.

“One of the best things was getting to spend time with my sponsored baby,” she recalls. “I started sponsoring him the day he was born – in September – and then I got to meet him in May. I named him Leonardo. His mother became pregnant through a rape, and she didn’t want anything to do with him. She just gave him up.

“I feel so privileged to have been a part a Home of Hope (in this way).”

Sponsoring is such a vital way to make a difference.

“The little money that you give makes a huge difference. I don’t think people understand the huge impact you can make on somebody’s life by giving $40 a month.”

Locally, anyone interested in the projects can help out. Monetary donations are always welcome to assist with the ministry, plus folks can sponsor children in Kenya, Rwanda, the Congo and India through Home of Hope. They also welcome people to offer their expertise, skills or resources to help out in these countries as well.

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