Leonard health update and his reflections on the work through the lens of cancer

by Kupenda

A Kenyan man wearing a pink shirt.


“…I have heard your prayer and seen your tears…” (Isaiah 38:4)

Dear Friends,

We are grateful that Leonard’s recent scans reveal a significant reduction in swelling and tumors!  As Leonard heads to Nairobi (8 hour bus ride away from his home) for his 4 th, of 6 chemotherapy treatments, he reflects on his experience with cancer, the way it helps him relate to children with disabilities, and how these kids give him strength to endure……

When I was diagnosed with stage IV follicular lymphoma in January of this year I had so many questions without answers. Even though I teach families and community leaders that suffering and/or disability is not a result of anything a person does wrong I found myself asking God what I had done to deserve this. I even wept for many nights but was comforted by time with family and friends along with their words of hope and prayers. Some of these prayers and encouraging words came from Kupenda supporters a world away. Thank you!

Although this experience has brought about a lot of physical pain, the psychological challenges have been even more intense. I have not been exceptional. When I had my first chemo treatment, I was nervous. I thought my life was coming to an end. In spite of my fatalistic feelings, my wife and the medical team at Aga Khan Hospital provided encouragement by reminding me that I’m not the only one going through this process. While life-saving poison dripped into my veins, I wanted a way out of this experience.  A situation that has only been months for me but is a lifetime for so many children with disabilities.

As I lay in the hospital bed for hours receiving my chemotherapy treatments, I scroll through the names and faces of the children I know experience constant pain yet still have joy and are alive because of the work we do. I have strength to fight this cancer because of children like Carlos, Hadija, Rashid, and Dhahabu…

  • Carlos has brittle bone disease resulting in continuous painful fractures throughout his life …now a star student in the mainstream school and always has a smile.
  • Hadija‘s autism caused her mother to abandon her and her father to continuously neglect her….now she lives in a safe environment where she is understood and cared for
  • Rashid‘s hydrocephalus made death seem inevitable until he had a shunt and proper medical attention…now 23 and an example to others
  • Dhahabu was not cared for due to her severe cerebral palsy and was infested with insects, malnourished, and kept in a dark room with no hope…now healthy and beaming with infectious light.


Compared to many of the children we support in Kenya, what I am experiencing is just a drop in the ocean. I have been in good health for most of my 57 years though these last few months have felt overwhelming for me. A pastor friend provided me with encouragement from the story of Hezekiah whom God granted more time on Earth even though God told him he was about to die (Isaiah 38). The story causes me to ask myself, and God, “have a finished this work?”  I think of all the other Hadija’s, and Rashid’s on the verge of death, still locked alone in houses without access to food, treatment, education, or love. I may not personally go to the homes of each one of these children but this terrible cancer experience makes me want to work even harder to create awareness in community leaders so they can find and save multitudes of children with disabilities.


Am I finished?  No…I am not. 


Thank you for your continued provision of resources and prayers during this difficult time.




Leonard Mbonani



Kuhenza for the children’s foundation

(Kupenda’s organizational partner in Kenya)

Gede, Kenya




About the Authors

3 thoughts on “Leonard health update and his reflections on the work through the lens of cancer


Leonard – You touched our hearts with your passion for the children when we were in Kenya in 2010. We were saddened to hear of your cancer diagnosis and have prayed for you since and will continue praying for you during your chemo treatments. You bring so much life and hope to the children at Kupenda. Keep fighting my friend, God is not done with you. Every day you walk this earth is a blessing to those around you. Keep touching lives and being a light to this world.

God Bless you Leonard!
Amy & Jared Rovig


Karen Stevenson

Leonard, your heart to serve is genuine. Your perspective is so honest. Your faith is stretching stronger and deeper. Your work for the Lord is far-reaching and inspiring. "Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength and mount up on wings like eagles." (Isaiah 40:31)


Thomas Katana

Leonard-we are strong with your health improvement. You had made our hearts to cherish and laugh like the kids.what you had instill to the kids is countless. We had been praying for you and God will make you fee."Being confident of this,that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ." Phillipians 1:6 You are a role model.
God bless you!

Thomas, James & Alex (Kuhenza Staff)


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