September 24, 2020

‘We Take Care of Them as Our Own’

Nestled on a half-acre in western Kenya sits an orphanage run by a close-knit family and their staff. Kadesh Barnea Baby and Children’s Home, 40 minutes outside of Nakuru, is where Regina Wangui provides unconditional love and compassion for orphans aged six to 18.

Wangui, married and a mother of four, embraces each child as though they were one of her own. “The orphanage is a family setup where my family and the children live in one house, taking care of them as our own,” Wangui wrote in an email. 

All of Wangui’s family are involved, including her daughter Angie, who volunteers as manager. 

Wangui has long had a passion for helping children. She has been working in different children’s homes since 2003. She prayed to God that she would have the chance to serve Him in a special way, and it came to pass in 2011. Wangui opened the orphanage named after Kadesh Barnea in the Bible, she said.

Kadesh Barnea orphanage opened with the help of A Better World (ABW) Canada sponsor Judy Holt from British Columbia, who paid for essentials, including a water tank, and some salary costs for a year.

Regina Wangui poses with Rael, who has cerebral palsy. Regina calls the girl a “fighter.” [Photo: Adventist Canadian Messenger]

ABW has supported Wangui’s efforts for years because of her commitment to helping children, especially those with disabilities. Kadesh Barnea adopts out children, but it's typically difficult to adopt out those with disabilities. In the past few years, ABW has financed physiotherapy and food at the orphanage, where nine orphans now live. Four of them have special needs. 

Charles, who has cerebral palsy, arrived when he was three. He couldn’t move, feed, or talk. Now 14, he can use a wheelchair pushed by other children. Charles also crawls and can stretch his hands. 

Joshua initially couldn’t speak or walk and was totally malnourished when he arrived. “Our hearts are for any human, [who] has a right to live,” Wangui said. Joshua was diagnosed with autism, and today is a happy boy who can walk, utter some words, and sing.

Rael, now 10, was 30 months old and weighed only 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds) when she arrived. It took almost three hours to feed Rael, who has cerebral palsy. Now it only takes 30 to 45 minutes. She can’t talk; she expresses her feelings clearly by crying or, “if happy, gives the best smile ever seen,” Wangui said. “We love her dearly. She is an angel.”

Wangui also speaks of an “amazing,” unidentified 18-year-old woman with cerebral palsy. She was rescued seven years ago and has since made great strides. She is now walking. Her hands don’t function, but she can use her legs for tasks like making her bed.

All four individuals have vastly improved because of the care provided at Kadesh Barnea. Julie Stegmaier, the project manager for Kadesh Barnea and ABW’s director of operations and donor relations coordinator, has seen it firsthand. “Regina has dedicated her life to loving and caring for the orphans at Kadesh,” Stegmaier said “She spends every day helping to give them the best and brightest future possible.” 

This story appeared in the September 2020 issue of Canadian Adventist Messenger.