Starfish are a central part of the MpM logo, and I'm sure many of you have heard the starfish story which goes something like this:
One day, an old man walked down the beach littered with thousands of starfish that had washed ashore by the tide and were dying in the sun. As he walked, he came upon a child who was eagerly picking up stranded starfish one by one and tossing them back into the waves. Puzzled, the man watched the child and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the child simply replied, "I'm saving these starfish, Sir." The old man chuckled aloud. "There are thousands of starfish, Son, and only one of you. What difference can you make?" The child picked up another starfish and gently tossed it into the sea, then turning to the man replied, "I made a difference to that one."
Day by day, month by month, year by year, the ministry of Mahali pa Maisha, founded and led by Dave and Jen Bell in obedience to God's calling, literally saves the lives of abandoned infants in Kenya.
Babies are not treasured in Kenya, and for many reasons (HIV-infected mothers, cultural stigmas, financial situations, among others) unwanted newborns are just left to die. On the street, dropped into a filthy latrine, in the bush for hyenas to find, shoved into the arms of a passerby. It's just hard for us to even imagine how a mother could do that, but it happens all the time in Kenya.
Enter the Bells and MpM. Whenever a baby is discovered (and they are often in very poor physical shape), the Bells are notified by authorities then go pick up the baby and bring him/her home to nurse back to health and eventually place that child in an adoptive Forever Family of their very own.
Since MpM's 9-year existence, 234 babies have been loved on and nurtured by the Bells and their caregivers, with 113 of those adopted into Christian homes and the rest (not counting the 32 at MpM right now) reintegrated into their families.
234 starfish saved.
No, they can't save them all. But to those 234 little starfish they are making a difference, the difference between life and death.
And that makes it all worth it!
While we were in Kenya, Shirley and I had the privilege of tagging along with Dave as he picked up the newest 10-day-oldish baby boy from a nearby hospital. The story of his abandonment, if it is to be believed, is that the mother apparently asked a lady to hold her baby while she went in to use the toilet and she never returned for her child. So the hospital had been caring for this baby for several days, waiting for the mother to claim him.
The hospital had 4 layers of clothing plus a blanket on him, so we immediately removed 3 of them to cool down his sweaty little body. What a precious little starfish! God is preparing the perfect Forever Family for him...what a blessing he will be!
All new babies spend a few to several days in the Bells' home, being sure they are healthy and getting them on a routine, before they are sent to stay at the infant rescue center with the caregivers there.
Here are some glimpses inside the VERY BUSY (as you can imagine!) infant rescue center....
Gives tummy time a whole new meaning....
Shadrach is one of the older toddlers who is awaiting his own Forever Family. He suffers from severe allergies, which makes his adoption chances much more challenging. Adoption is not widely accepted by the Kenyan culture, especially adopting a child with any sort of medical issues. We are praying for international adoptions to open back up because we know God has the perfect family out there for our sweet Shaddy. What an adorable child with such personality!
Another toddler who has a challenging adoption situation...Tobias has Down Syndrome. He's doing well but will always have extra challenges in life.
Angelina is another special needs child, suffering from spina bifida. Pray with us for the adoption doors to open for these very special littles!
Bath time for the toddlers...outside in the sunshine!
Feeding time is one of the most hectic but fun times...I loved getting my baby snuggle time in!
Elizabeth is one of the head caregivers...she is like an octopus, multi-tasking at its best!
Brea is getting really good at multi-tasking too. It's a job skill requirement at MpM!
The older infants are able to hold their own bottles...
The toddlers have their own meals...high in protein and nutrients.
And always, plenty of playtime for everyone!
Me and 4 of my favorite toddlers...I wish I could have taken them all home with me!
Cathy and Toby....
Shirley with the older toddlers...
Shaddy and me...
Creepers and crawlers always on the move...
The toddler checking up on Uncle Jon and Uncle Bill as they finish their milk (no sippy cups here...they learn to drink from regular cups).
As you can only imagine, 32 babies produce LOTS of laundry!!!
Auntie Shirley with an armload of love!
These two littles are "our" starfish for now...Kim and I are Baby Booster sponsors for Nathaniel and Miriam. Whenever they are placed in the Forever homes, we will get new little starfish to sponsor.
I cannot think of a better way to spend $50 per month/per child!!! If you want to SAVE LIVES and truly make a difference, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll give you the info to be a Baby Booster yourself!
Such a privilege to be working alongside Dave and Jen as they do God's work in Kenya...