Precious Jane is 19 years old, lives with her mother and has Downs Syndrome. Her community does not know how to receive her. The strong cultural stigma surrounding disability results in a shame that literally locks children in the back bedroom and behind the protective gates of the family compound.
Jane spends her days and nights lying in the dust within her physical walls, her family lying desolate and bereft within the belief that they have been cursed. Sorrow and self-hatred have reigned in their lives for years, as they have been cut off from love, community, and hope.
When Sports Friends staff arrived at Jane’s home to take her to Camp Baraka, everything changed. She had never ventured outside the walls of her family compound, hiding from those who don’t understand her. Now receiving personal visitors and preparing for a very special trip had her wild with joy. Her siblings had never seen her leave the home, and their excitement filled the air. Jane had never even seen a motorbike, but she and her mother climbed onto one with their escort, then took a two-hour bus ride. She was mesmerized by the landscape, the expanse, and the people.
Camp Baraka is a Special Needs Camp organized by Sports Friends to serve children with disabilities and their families. It is structured to surround them with love, compassion, joyful inclusion, and gentle care. The children are assigned two volunteers to serve them personally for the three days. The children enjoy games, art, music, organized specifically for them; they experience the joy of life with their caregivers and other children surrounding and embracing them. While the children play and are very well tended-to, their family members are shown hospitality and tender compassion in trauma healing sessions. Their mothers are assured that God has not cursed or abandoned them or their child. He is with them and His love is real, but the enemy has loudly lied to them for years. A foot washing ceremony drives out rejection and despair as Jesus literally touches and cleanses shame through the hands of His people.
When Jane and her mother left Camp Baraka, to return to their home in rural Kenya, they were filled with hope and on the road to healing, and were equipped with a powerful recognition of Jesus’ love for them.
When Sports Friends staff visited the family a few weeks later, they were welcomed with smiles. Though Jane is nonverbal, she was visibly brighter and curious. It is a new day for sweet Jane and her family.
As Sports Friends Kenya reaches out to the special needs community, pray
- For the hidden and cast-out
- that He will continue to transform lives and build community understanding