Here, on our mission field, as we have already written in previous updates and reports, little children who are usually orphaned and unprotected tend to have a particularly high level of emotional sensitivity which is reflected in their mentality and behavior.
Our Orthodox Church, once she decided to deal with Mission Overseas, set as her priority, among other objectives, these small, innocent creatures. These abandoned children found shelter in the bosom of our Church. She picked them up from the streets and explained to them that they were like the other kids. Although alone and unprotected, they would now have a place where they would feel safe and could share their joys and sorrows with other children of their age. Our Orthodox Church here in Kenya offered them the care and affection they so much needed.
So we gave priority and opened our premises, where we could give these innocent beings hope and make them smile again. We have even shared with them our own lives, since they spend more time with us than with their relatives or even their parents – if they exist.
The place is relatively quiet. We are surrounded by small houses mostly populated by poor people caring about their household, their daily routine and their family. So there is no noise or annoyance from all those people who surround us. I realize that every day, since at 4 am I am already in my office to deal with the various urgent affairs of our church, our schools and everything else related to the service of our priests and our flock.
Suddenly, while there is still darkness and tranquility, the scenery changes. From very early in the morning, these children arrive at the nearby kindergarten and the elementary school, which is right next to my office. Upon arrival, these little kids start to run, play, shout, jump, and rejoice. When dawn breaks, with the first rays of the sun, they are here to spend the rest of the day. They run and shout joyfully. Perhaps this is their only joy, since wherever they come from, there is no such possibility. Within the beautiful nature which surrounds the whole place, one can hear children’s cheerful voices while playing, jumping and hoping, creating their own “kingdom” this way. A mythical kingdom, it is true, without any other option. But it is no small thing, since they know that they will spend eight whole years of their life in it and they will have the chance to live like other children…
What these little children have on our Mission premises is not at all small or insignificant since it is part of the best period of their lives. They will meet with so many other children their age; they will make friendships that can last a lifetime. Their staying here will help them make dreams and envision a better future. It is this loving atmosphere that keeps them alive. So every morning in the early dawn light their happy voices can be heard all around. It is the same happy voices that are heard when dusk nears as well, as they are leaving for their homes.
God couldn’t have granted to us a greater gift than this! Last week we performed the first baptism of an infant whose parents were both here at this kindergarten and elementary school. The presence of the young parents awakened memories of the past, when they and their classmates shouted joyfully, ran and jumped around happily, filling nature with life and beauty.
Therefore, it is the daily sound of these voices, the voices of small, innocent children, which gives us strength to hold on to our holy mission here and keeps us vigilant. It is these voices that make us rejoice and give praise to God for providing us with spiritual as well as material food at this stage of our life. Otherwise, who knows where we would be living now and what our life would be like without these children’s voices and play? It is such voices that give life to man.
† Makarios of Nairobi