Tiny Dancer in the Sand

by Jessica Charles Abrams

An adult woman surrouded by 10 Kenyan teens.

“Cindy is a Kenyan now!”

Leonard echoed the sentiment of most people in the Disability Awareness Day crowd and laughed with the women dancing and shaking around her.

It was our second to last day in the field and the culmination of 3 long weeks of work. The government officials, women’s groups, parents, children, and pastors we had met with over the past month had come together to show their support for children with disabilities in Dakacha village. Already 5 children with disabilities had been enrolled in school and 10 scholarships awarded to others. Dozens more brought their children to be registered with Kupenda that day.
Cindy had a REASON to dance in celebration!

And I guess that’s what most of it comes down to, isn’t it? That 18 years ago, a graduate student from small-town New Hampshire decided to tackle a problem that would have crushed the hearts of most of us. And when her words and pictures started saving lives, she celebrated. And now, nearly two decades later, managing two nonprofit organizations with 10 staff and 2 boards and 10,000 beneficiaries, Cindy won’t stop.

What would have stopped others along the way?  Leaving a lucrative biology career with the U.S. Army? Being asked to highlight her disability over and over in advocacy talks and presentations? The heavy responsibility of fundraising and the valleys where she thought she’d have to fold?
Or perhaps worse than all this – the child abuse she’s witnessed and lives that have been lost despite her efforts? The sick children she’s held and the funerals she’s attended alongside weeping parents and little coffins.
What would have stopped you?

“This one can DANCE I tell you!” Madam Karo shouts to me over the crowds. And the women circle closer around Cindy with the drums and music swelling, sand clouds rising, crowds cheering.

Happy International Women’s Day and Happy Birthday to you, Cynthia Bauer.

Our dedicated leader, our hopeful visionary, our inspired “Kenyan” dancer.

Celebrating with you.

And celebrating you.

Please consider sponsoring a child or donating to Kupenda for Cynthia’s birthday (March 7th) and International Women’s Day (March 8th). Your gift benefits children with disabilities and celebrates Cindy’s life and the lives of so many other amazing women around the world!  

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