Driven by Vision, Moved with Compassion
Kenya Development Fund Team travels to Kenya in February to conduct medical evaluations
Pastor Michael Gantt, Pastor Bill Steele, Becky Steele, RN., and Deena Forcier pictured here with the staff and faculty at Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf
In 2011 when the school was evicted from certain rented property where the male students at the school were housed, the Kenya Development Fund reached out to friends across the country and around the world for help. In just a few short weeks the ministry was able to raise over $11,000 which was donated to Deaf Ministries International for the purpose of building a new 65 bed dormitory at Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf. Last year, the Fund donated enough money to finish a new classroom building at the school.
In February of 2014, Pastor Michael Gantt, Executive Director of the Kenya Development Fund released the funds to build a second 65 bed dormitory which is currently under construction at the school. It is expected that the students will be able to move in to their new quarters in May of this year. The building is masonry construction on a concrete pad and when fully furnished will sleep 65.
The Mission 2014 team was comprised of Pastor Michael Gantt, Executive Director of the Kenya Development Fund, Deena Forcier, Team Photographer; Rev. Bill Steele (Advanced Emergency Medical Tech) and Becky Steele, RN. During the course of our stay, just over one week - Bill and Becky with assistance from Deena and a staff member at the school conducted comprehensive medical evaluations for all students and staff members at the school. The team was able to make important recommendations for treatment of more serious conditions and through their efforts we were able to begin the establishment of a good working relationship with the Tenwek Hospital in Bomet (about 3 hour drive from the school) to provide treatment for any serious or critical issues. The team also distributed reading glasses for students who were having a hard time reading as well as members of the local community - new T-Shirts for all students and staff. The Fund also purchased a number of new bed mattresses and chairs for the assembly room.
Becky Steele is a pastor's wife, a Registered Nurse with her local hospital in Brattleboro, Vermont, and teaches nursing at the Vermont Community College. Becky came to Kenya with a bag full of medical equipment and a heart full of compassion for those who are hurting. We are sure she wasn't fully prepared to have her heart so captivated by the charm of the children of Immanuel. Becky is tireless and dedicated. During the course of our week or so in Ringa she uncovered a number of serious medical issues that we were able to address. In addition to examining and treating the children and staff, she continued in her role as teacher as she taught members of the staff at the school how to check blood pressure, respiration, and a number of other important skills in order to better care for the children.
Pastor Bill Steele of Brattleboro, Vermont is also an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and loaned us his skills for much of the month of February. Bill and his wife Becky quickly lost their hearts to the children of Immanuel School and are sure to be returning to Kenya and the children as soon as they can.
Deena Forcier is a Senior Sales Executive for a large computer company and a gifted photographer. It just so happens that she also loves children and they seem to be magnetically attracted to her. Deena spent her week photographing our mission and loving children. She also assisted in medical exams, filmed video interviews with different children and staff, and helping our school staff with their computer needs. Deena works closely with Executive Director Michael Gantt in developing and maintaing our web presence and outreach fund raising. Deena is a valuable asset to the work of Kenya Development Fund who has given her heart away over and over again to those in need.
Pictured here is Michael Gantt with newly enrolled Kuja High School (for the Deaf) student Evaline Atieno. Evaline is one of the brightest students in Kenya, leading the Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf Academic Team to highest honors in the nations among special needs schools. We learned in early February of this year that Evaline was probably not going to be able to attend high school because her family could not afford the fees required to enter high school. At a presentation of the needs of the school in early February, Pastor Gantt shared Evaline's story with a local congregation in the Boston area. As a result of the presentation of her needs a couple in a local church in eastern Massachuestts committed to pay for Evalines school fees during her entire course of study at Kuja High School for the Deaf. During our visit in February we visited Evaline and several other Immanuel Students currently studying at the Kuja school and Evaline was overjoyed to learn that her school fees had been fully paid for 2014 - and promised for the balance of her high school years. She is a very happy girl.
This beautiful, but sad child is Velma. Velma is left alone with her mother who is HIV positive. She has already lost her father to AIDS - and during our visit to Kenya in February we learned that Velma is also HIV positive. We also learned that she has a serious and dangerous umbilical hernia which is going to require surgery. If the part of her intestines that are protruding through her belly button becomes strangulated she could die of septic shock in a matter of a couple of hours. We were able to travel with Velma to the Tenwek Hospital in Bomet where she received a thorough evaluation by doctors there including blood test to confirm her HIV diagnosis, and an ultrasound examination to determine the current situation with her hernia. The hospital has agreed to do the surgery for Velma (it is already funded through the generosity of a Kenya Development Fund supporter), as soon as her CD4 blood count is raised. She is now on retroviral drugs to combat the HIV infection which has lowered her blood counts making her subject to infection. Will you pray for Velma that her blood count will stabilize making it safe for her to have the surgery that is so important to her life and well being.
Help us to continue in our efforts to provide a safe, healthy living environment and support for the school in providing a quality academic and vocational education to children who just need a chance.