“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”
(1 Corinthians 16: 13&14)
Thank you for your continued support of children with disabilities in Kenya and Tanzania. I especially appreciate those of you who contributed to Kupenda in honor of my 63-year-old father who passed away this March… Richard M. Bauer Jr. I am grateful that many children in Kenya had the opportunity to play the games with my dad that he used to play with my siblings and me. Since they know Kupenda’s existence is connected with my dad’s support of me, some say they mourn the loss of their grandfather. This Father’s Day, we want to continue to honor my dad by supporting children without fathers and encouraging more fathers to truly love their children.
As I continue to grieve my father’s death, I think a lot about the many children we support whose fathers are uninvolved in their lives. It may sound silly for me to say as a grown woman but my dad’s death makes me feel a bit unprotected. I realize that this is not just a feeling for so many of the children we love in Kenya. The sad reality is many actually lack the paternal security I took for granted. The recent rape of a ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy is just one example of this kind of vulnerability.
This girl, my sweet friend, is in our sponsorship program and does not walk or talk. Since she cannot run away or cry for help, she is a prime target for sexual predators. My sweet friend was staying home from school due to an injury caused by an alleged rape attempt weeks before from a different man. Neighbors knew she was alone when a man entered her hut and raped her. Hours later her mother came home to a bleeding and traumatized child. Neighbors identified the perpetrator and he was arrested. It bothers me that they could identify him but did not stop him. I believe this is an example of a pervasive problem in many communities in which we operate. There is a lack of parental care and community support for children with disabilities like my sweet friend. As a result, we also lost two children due to this kind of neglect in January.
There are far too many children with dependent disabilities regularly left alone for long periods of time. In Kenya, it is common for neighbors to watch one another’s children. It is a beautiful communal way of caring for children – one that would be nice to have more of here in the U.S. Unfortunately this kind of village care does not usually exist when the child has a disability. If the child has a disability the care is often left to the parents alone – most often the mother – and this often leads to the child being left alone much of the time. I believe more needs to be done to encourage community inclusion of children with disabilities. Maybe fathers being more involved would be one step closer to communities that protect all of their children.
Much of the effort to care for children with disabilities is left to exhausted single mothers who struggle to feed their families. I do know some really amazing fathers in Kenya who have made a big difference in how others treat those with disabilities. Sadly, they still appear to be the exception and not the cultural norm. There are too many fathers who are uninvolved and we have hope this can change. We hope to facilitate more interaction between the fathers who show the love of Christ to their children with fathers who do not. Most learn best by example.
I want the kids I love so much in Kenya to know the love of fathers like mine. I can think of no greater way to honor my father than by using his example, and others like him, to instill changes in men that result in them becoming more involved in their children’s lives. Perhaps a community of loving fathers would result in more protection against men like the one who raped my sweet friend. More loving fathers could also result in fewer predatory men.
Would you consider giving a financial gift in honor of loving fathers and those without fathers this Father’s Day? Just go to www.kupenda.org and contribute today.
My dad would be honored if more children were truly loved by their fathers because of him, though he would say he could have done better. On my last birthday with my dad, he wrote that becoming a father gave him value like he had never known before. He wasn’t perfect but we did not doubt his love for us. I already see my dad living on in my brother as he showers love upon his two little girls.
If you can be with your father this Father’s Day, give him an extra hug on behalf of those of us who wish we could hug ours. My dad gave really big, strong hugs. I miss that.
With much love and gratitude,
If you’re interested in supporting one of the many children we serve, head over to our sponsorship page to learn about how you can make a difference.