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The hard life of African orphan


Close your eyes and imagine... No, it's not a meditation session. But if you want to feel and understand the main character of my story, you need to put yourself in his shoes as realistic as possible... So, imagine all the things that normally surround you, such familiar and necessary things you need, have disappeared. No transport, no paved roads, no internet or computer, no mobile communication or electricity. All our comfortable life attributes are simply missing: shower, bathroom, bed linens, tap water, even faucet and running water with sewage. Imagine, that all these things not just suddenly disappeared from your life, you have never had or seen them... Never. Imagine? Could you do that? I seriously doubt it but we have to try to understand the story of a little boy from a surprising wild tribe that lives far away in Africa, in the desert near the equator. On the edge of the earth, as one might say...


This kid’s name is Samuel, he is a child of the desert. The boy grew up in the conditions that you successfully tried (or didn’t try) to imagine. He was born in the desert, lived in a hut without electricity, water and sewage; his parents did not use a stroller for him and did not buy him toys. Moreover, he had never seen clean water or had enough food. The kid had a difficult fate. At the age of 3 he lost his father and mother. In Africa there are many opportunities for a child to lose parents: they can throw a baby away, can be killed by members of another tribe, or may die of AIDS. This kid became an orphan as a result of the latter. The boy was sent from his native village and his native hut to his grandmother for many miles away to the parched desert.

Sammy in the desert

You probably imagine a life with his grandmother as a constant presence of pies, cakes, plenty of delicious food and excessive concern. But, unfortunately, life is not always like that. At the new place Samuel received more beating than food, and not excessive concern but rather the absence of it. Here's unsweetened life with his grandmother. His experiences in life were hunger, disease, death of parents, moving to a strange town. Simple life of the tribe included grazing of meager cattle’s herds, digging wells for the extraction of grey muddy water, searching for firewood in the bushes near a dried-up riverbed. But that's not all. Every night he saw a lovely starry sky above him. He was not chatting day and night in Facebook but was having fun with children living in the same way as he did. And every night he watched the beautiful desert sunset. And, believe me, it’s a great spectacle, which cannot be compared to anything. I do not know, for this or for some other reason, but Samuel was happy despite the hunger, despite the beatings and very uncomfortable living conditions. His smile was shining with happiness on his skinny face. Remarkable is that he earned the nickname Apalo in the village. In the language of the tribe this name means "a friend". And this means a lot...

Our Sam

We met him for the first time in April 2013, when we came to the village of Kerio to start regular services for the tribe. We planned to come back there every 3 months to work with children, to distribute snacks as a part of the project "Voice in the Desert" and for doing free health care, so-called "Mobile Clinics". And when visiting families of widows for providing them with food, we met Apalo. He was introduced to us as an orphan, and then we also met his grandmother. She was very kind to us and the boy did not tell us about the life with his "guardian". He did not complain, he just grinned from ear to ear. It seemed like his black (blacker than most Africans) face shone with joy and kindness. After that meeting and acquaintance Apalo became a frequent guest in the yard of pastor Jeremiah, where we stayed. However, while we lived there, not only he but the crowd of rural kids never left us. Although I am not a supporter of "candy" missionary work, the kid regularly received something from us. And due to the fact that at his grandmother’s place he was only treated to a lot of spanking, he eventually moved to the pastor, where he slept in the courtyard on the sand. You probably thought, "What a mess, the baby sleeps on the sand in the street ..." But you forgot about what I asked you in the beginning... Apalo did not know what the bed and linens are. And to sleep on the sand is quite a normal practice for both adults and children of the Turkana tribe. He slept and felt safe because he had nothing to compare with.

Sammy with toys

The orphan boy was all alone, left to himself: there was no one to care about him. One pastor came up to us and asked whether we could take Apalo to us. We agreed.


On that day you probably could not find a happier passenger on the bus than our Sammy. All the way smile never left his face and it seemed like boy glowed with joy. People on the bus were perplexed, they asked him, "What happened?" And the boy replied: "Now I have a new family! I'm going home!"

Sammy again

When Apalo crossed the threshold of our house, we were unable to go from one state of amusing surprise to another. The boy, who had nothing of our usual civilization before, was running around the house, staring at the burning light bulbs. And then Sammy began to wash with water from the toilet, not knowing how to use this piece of furniture. In the shower he was jumping under the water, like a goat, seeing the sprays for the first time in his life. All this for him seemed like a real miracle. In the evening when we put him on the bed, he twisted into a ball because of the cold, even though there was a warm soft blanket under him. Apparently, he did not understand how to use a blanket at all. That very night we hadn’t even dived into a deep sleep when we heard someone started calling us very loudly, shouting for the whole house. We ran out of our room, trying to understand what happened. Sammy stood in the hallway in a very troubled state. When he saw us, he said: "I'm hungry!" That's it. We had to cook bonus dinner at night for the boys! Seeing this entire colorful picture, we thought it would be difficult for Sammy to get used to our way of life and to act according to our rules; moreover, he had a very poor knowledge of Swahili and English was out of the question. But despite all this, Apalo learned all new to him very quickly and mastered the English language really fast.

Sammy with friends

Sammy is a real miracle! He is a strong prayer boy with a sincere heart of a servant! We are grateful to God for this kid!

Author: Anastasia Klimenko

Published: 2014-04-26 18:24

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