Monday, May 19, 2014

If you struggle with contentment, please read this....

I'd like to introduce you to a woman, who is also named Sarah, who helps in our house 3 days a week.  In Kenya, it is culturally expected to have someone work in your house (and outside, too)....and it helps a lot with food prep and cleaning.  The first person who worked for us was a super hard worker, but she ended up stealing from us after a few weeks.  We were a little reluctant to try again, but a family left last October who had employed Sarah and loved her.  She has worked at RVA for over 20 years, and she has an unspoiled reputation.  She has been working for us since the first October that we were here, and she has become a part of our family. :)

She is hard working, pleasant, honest, a great baker,  smart, helpful to us about matters of culture, and so generous.  She is also a woman of great faith who has taught me a lot about contentment.  Last week, she asked me if I had any old clothes from my girls, because there is a women in her community who has 4 little girls, no husband, and no money.  She said the girls only have tattered clothes because whatever money they can scrape together goes towards food.  Sarah had already given them all the clothes that she had that would fit, but it wasn't very much.  When you learn more about her, you will see how amazingly generous this act was.  I probed a bit further and discovered that the woman in her neighborhood does laundry to earn some money, and Sarah has her do her laundry.  I'm sure that Sarah could use that money for her own family's needs, but she chooses to help this woman in a dignified way through employment.  She told me that the woman buys cheap corn flour to make ugali and serves it with sikuma wiki (kale) - a traditional Kenyan meal that is very inexpensive but also very low in protein.  I was horrified to learn that the only protein this woman can give her children is milk in their chai everyday - she buys milk by the cupful.  Don't miss that - about a 5 ounce cup!!  And, she splits it between 5 cups of chai!  We are so worried about those little girls that we went to the duka and bought a bunch of beans and powdered milk and cooking fat to help them get by for a while - not a perfect solution, but that will help, along with the clothes. 

One day a few months ago, I asked Sarah to tell me her story over a cup of chai.  She told me that she is the third born child among 10 children.  The first born is a girl, who was able to finish high school and get married before their father died.  The older sister got a job as a houseworker for a family at RVA.  The second born was a boy, and he and Sarah were in the same grade in school when their father died.  Her mother told her that she could not afford to pay high school fees for both Sarah and her brother, so she would need to get a job to pay for her brother's school fees.  She ended up taking her sister's job at RVA, because her sister began to have children and stayed home with them.  Meanwhile, her uncle put 2 of the younger brothers (ages between 5 and 10) OUT OF THE HOUSE to become street kids because they couldn't afford to feed everyone.  They stayed on the street for 2 years before being absorbed back into the family.  So, the years passed and she put 8 of her siblings through high school and she never had the opportunity to go.  Through her connections, she also was able to get each of them a job in Kijabe - no small thing in a country with 40% unemployment. 

She and her mother had turned away several would-be suitors and, when the last sibling was through high school, she was looking forward to getting married and starting a family of her own.  After all, she was getting pretty old by Kenyan standards!  However, her mother kept saying "no" because she wanted her to stay at home and help her.  Finally, Sarah "ran away" to get married.  She laughed when she recalled that she told her employer "Please don't fire me, but I am going to get married."  She came back to ask her mother's forgiveness, but she had to miss out on a church wedding.  I am amazed that she tells all of this story with no trace of bitterness in her voice or eyes.  She will tell you that God has blessed her family and she has everything she needs.  God has indeed blessed her with a loving, hardworking husband and 2 sweet kids...and siblings that all support themselves and look out for each other.  She is content - honestly, she is content.

Now, Sarah does not live on the edge of starvation - she and her husband both have steady jobs, and I have made sure she has another job when we leave.  But, they do not have a lot.  She makes just under a dollar an hour - a rate set by station management here, according to the norms of the area.  Between her husband and her, they probably make just above the $2 per person per day that the majority of the world lives on.  She lives in a community of squatters about a 45 minute walk from here, in the direction of the top of the escarpment.  It is cold and misty there, so she tends to cough a lot - I'm not sure if it is from the charcoal smoke from cooking food in the house or from the weather.   It is also very steep in the area - the children that died in the mudslides last year were her neighbors.  In fact, the government announced then that the area was not fit for habitation, but no one can afford to buy land and move to a safe area, so they are still there. 

Path to her home

Outhouse, and neighbors homes "stacked" on top of each other on the misty hill

She borrowed money to pay for water to come to her house, but the pipes were washed away in the mudslides last year only 3 or 4 months after installation.

Sarah and her children in front of their home.

While I would love for her to have an education or a church wedding, what she really needs is a safe place for her family to live.  She and her husband have looked at land that is safe and still a reasonable walk to work for them and to school for the kids - I think they must be using an hour's walk as their criterion of reasonable.  They would plan to dismantle their modest wooden house and rebuild it on the land, but there is no way they can afford the $3000-4000 that it costs to buy the land.  So, I am humbly asking for some of you to prayerfully consider joining us in helping her....and you can help the Needy Children's Fund at the hospital at the same time. 

Here is my idea:  she has borrowed large amounts ($200-300) of money from us 2 times...and paid them both back on schedule or ahead of schedule.  She is willing to pay back this money for the land, as long as people understand that it will take a few years.  If anyone reading this is willing to help donate to her land, she will pay back a set amount each month into the Needy Children's Fund at the hospital.  In this way, you will be helping her family escape an unsafe environment AND help needy families who can't pay for their children's hospital bills.  If you'd like to help, please message me on the FB  page or email me directly.  Thanks for considering helping this amazing family escape an unsafe home! 


Philippians 4:11  "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am."


  1. Hi Sarah. My name is Cindy Nore, and I follow your blog when I read the Myhres blog. If you could provide me with your email, I would like to be a part of helping with your idea. Thank you so much.

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