We are so thankful for all the staff who dedicate their time to caring for the VOH children. Each of them has an inspiring story, which is why we like to feature them on our blog–so you can get to know those who are helping us care for children in need.
Today we are featuring Richard, the Child Protection Officer at VOH Kenya…
“I believe God uses a willing heart to ensure the mission He has set through a person are achieved. “
Village of Hope Location: VOH Kenya
Position at village of hope: Child Protection Officer
Been working with VOH since: August 2008
What is your story before coming to Village of Hope?
I was born in 1979 and grew up in Butere in Western Kenya with my maternal grandparents. I attended school there from kindergarten to grade 8. My parents where both working in different places and because they were shifting so much, they decided I should stay with my grandmother for a more stable life.
At that time, my father was a pastor and my mother was a teacher. In 1994, my parents and I all settled in Kisumu, Kenya, and I continued my high school and graduated in 1997. After I graduated, I worked casually for two years: I did loading and offloading for a factory. This was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life–I wanted to use the skills that God gave me.
In 2001, my parents were living in rural Kenya and saw so many vulnerable and orphaned children walking around in the day, not attending school or being looked after well. Many of these children would eventually travel into the city where they boys would become street children and part of the begging cycle and the girls would become pregnant at an early age or fall into prostitution. Out of their own pockets, my parents started a feeding program and a small school to help some of these children.
What is the story behind how you first came to know about Village of Hope?
After the post-election violence in 2007, I wanted to be back close to family and knew that my parents needed help in the ministry. In 2008 my parent’s, John and Jane Okello, asked Villages of Hope to help them with their ministry and became the Directors of VOH Kenya.
I didn’t feel a call to work with children at first, but then I really found out that it is not only interesting, but really worth it. It’s different from just working a job; there are lives being moulded and you can see wayward children starting to have their character deeply changed and living Godly lives. This makes a huge difference within them, but also within their family, their family’s future, and the area they live in.
In 2008, I was given the title of manager and also was fulfilling the job of Child Protection Officer. When I first started, I had to focus on how to protect the children, to make sure they were attending school and not being used for child labour by guardians.
Initially, I didn’t know how to begin. I never worked with children and found it hard when children would come to me telling me they didn’t eat supper last night or they were being beaten. I thought, “Where do I begin, what do I do?”
I visited the homes, became familiar with the guardians, and was able to talk to the guardians about the Lord, and how to parent the children gently and Christ-like. I quickly started to feel that doing the necessary things came naturally to me and I was good at it.
I believe God uses a willing heart to ensure the mission He has set through a person are achieved. My skills were from God, not from me and I was right where He wanted me.
How has Village of Hope helped you?
VOH has helped me realize the area of my call, which is to work with children. VOH has given me a job that I love and I have been able to save money to further my skills and education. It’s kept me close to my parents and family and has given me the unique opportunity to be part of this family calling.
My wife now works as an auntie to the resident children and my son, Mikah, attends the school and always has his dad and mom close at hand.
VOH is my home, it has helped me realize my own personality. Being in a position of a counsellor, I have to be a dad to all the children who come to me.
God has build up my confidence so that I can be that father of many.
Any final words?
Because I really love working with children, I really want to continue working and supporting children by giving my all, my time, finances, strength, and abilities and dedicate it to children. In the future, I hope God helps me do that not only with the children here, but throughout Kenya.
Find out more about our Child Protection here.
*Note: some edits have been made to this interview only for the purpose of translation and readability. No facts or details have been altered or removed.
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