By Marla Boehr
My friend Rachael has 22 children. Currently, each one is healthy, eager to learn, and excited for their future. It’s difficult to believe that just a few years ago, Rachael found them in the dump.
On a mission trip to Kenya in 2009, Rachael was confronted with the overwhelming poverty that surrounded her and the small team she was travelling with from Los Angeles. Immediately struck by the depths of desperation all around her, Rachael was discouraged by the overwhelming tide of human suffering. And yet, she also saw a glimmer of hope in the midst of dismal circumstances. Visiting a local landfill, one particular scene stood out in her mind and became etched on her heart: a group of about fifteen street children huddled around a single can of beans and a few scraps of bread. Amazingly, these starving children were willing to share such meager provisions among themselves even though there was not enough food for them all to fill their bellies. Connecting with a local pastor who had befriended this group of youngsters, Rachael also discovered that even though these children were devastatingly poor, they openly revealed their hopes and dreams for a better future. Deeply moved by the children’s willingness to share what little they had with each other as well as their hopeful outlook, Rachael was determined to provide them with a new reality.
Returning to the United States, Rachael dedicated her funds and efforts to these fifteen children of the landfill. Tragically, the youngest was just five years old. Among these children were Aids orphans or simply those from desperate families without the means to provide for them. Pushed to the brink of starvation, these children would also pick glass out of the rubble to sell even though the sharp edges often inflicted painful wounds. Since their situation was so desperate, Rachael worked quickly to cofound an organization she called “New Hope Children” and generously provided out of pocket funds to cover shelter, food, and education for these fifteen children.
The mission statement of “New Hope Children” is simple, yet profound: “to take the New Hope Children as far as their dreams will carry them by getting them off the streets and into a new life; providing education, food, shelter, counseling, and much needed love”*. By providing these children with basic needs, New Hope is restoring their bodies, minds, and souls so that their inner beauty can shine through the brokenness of the reality surrounding them. In this way, these children are becoming “fruitful, educated, and empowered citizens of their communities”*.
With both humility and pride, Rachael considers these children to be heroes because of how they “inspire [me] daily with their courage, resilience, and positive life choices”*. Even though the New Hope children now know a life of relative security, they still have a burden for those fighting for survival on the streets. The children of New Hope often ask to take a trip to the landfills to help others still in need of a home. Recently, Rachael and her husband Joshua, purchased a plot of land which will be dedicated to a purpose-built dormitory and school for the New Hope Children (which now includes 22 kids). Initially, they planned to name this new facility “The New Hope Children Center”, but the children there have begged them to add the phrase…”of Love and Hope”.
The children of New Hope now have the tangible means to reach for a promising future. Coupled with Rachael’s determination and sacrificial love, these youngsters are living testaments to the human capacity for positive growth and change if given the tools to succeed. Although the sheer scale of poverty in Africa is still overwhelming for Rachael, she realizes that she needs to focus on those she can help rather than the multitudes that will still go hungry. Change abroad is possible if we are able to see beyond the limited scope of our own reality and actively seek to make a difference.
And that’s why I consider Rachael a hero too.
*from the New Hope Children website: http://www.newhopechildren.com/index.html Please visit to find out more about New Hope and how you can be involved. To watch a video detailing the story behind New Hope, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjugFjg6BNQ.
Get into the spirit of giving this season, and please consider donating to New Hope Children.