There are children under a tree.  They need food. They need an education. They need shelter. How did they get there? Let me tell you.

We drilled a well in Turkana in the heart of the famine of the Horn of Africa. The nearest water was a day’s journey from where the people were located, and the water there was contaminated. But now they have clean, easily accessible water to drink.

But that’s not the end of the story. The press has called this drought—“the children’s famine” because of the way it has produced so many orphans. And when I looked under a tree near the water of our new well, I saw nearly a hundred little children. Yes, they were orphans from the famine. And people had just left them there because they thought the most likely place for someone to take care of them would be near the water. So you might say we had a little orphanage going because we brought water. And obviously this was the best place for us to bring food (near the water). So now the orphaned children along with others were getting food and water. 

One woman, upon seeing all of the little children, decided to start teaching them. She asked us if we would buy her a blackboard. We did. So now in the middle of the desert is a blackboard under a tree with a woman teaching vowels to a bunch of little kids. We now have a school. 

The chief showed up and noticed all the water, food, children, blackboard, and the general good spirit around the place. He thanked us. He said that Christianity was good. After seeing the love expressed there, he believed that the message of Christ was true. He wanted all of his community to become Christians. Now there is a church. We still don’t have school or church buildings yet, but people are really the most important part of a church or school. 

The chief decided that since we had helped so much, he should do something in return. He gave us a bunch of land. Since we now have water, we are irrigating the land. Now there is a farm. Soon there will be food that we didn’t bring.  We invited the people to start farming the land. They will be able to eat all of the food produced on the farm. Now there are jobs. In fact, there is an economy. And a bunch of goats started coming while we were standing there and began drinking the water. Now there is livestock. We have a ranch. One of the elders told me that with this new water, people won’t get typhoid like they did in the past. Now there is health. People decided that this place was a good place to be. They discussed moving to this spot. Soon, there will be a town. 

By the way, one thing has really changed. There are a lot more children under that tree now than when I was there a few weeks ago. 

Jim Shelburne School

THE REST OF THE STORY — Now the children don’t have to meet under the tree. They have a nice school building. It is named after Jim Shelburne, the preacher from Washington Ave. Christian Church in Amarillo. Jim and his congregation have sponsored over 100 of these children who were under the tree. 

Through CRF’s work in Turkana, hundreds of children who had lost their parents due to the drought have been supported intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially.V