Emily Whelchel is our Kenya Programs Director. Here is her story of seeing her CRF sponsored child, Naomi.

When I saw my sponsored daughter, my world stopped. Naomi has been in my life for a year and a half now. I get her letters twice a year, a new photo of her to hang on my wall with my other family photos, and I even get a report card so I can see how she’s doing in school. I chose to sponsor Naomi because I knew there was a reason God was putting her into my life. I knew I could support her through school.

“Welcome Emily, mother of Naomi,” the children at the CRF school sang. Everything was bright with orange, the color of HOPE for AIDS orphans in East Africa—the school uniforms, streamers, and even the buildings—all orange. My eyes searched the faces of the singing children. And then I saw her.

Naomi crashed into me in a hug that lasted for two or three minutes. This child’s photograph had been displayed in my home and my office at work for one year—and here she was, smiling in my arms, a real and familiar child that Jesus loves.

Hand-in-hand, Naomi and I walked the mile to her guardian family’s mud hut. The Kenyan landscape around us was beautiful, but I cannot imagine walking this rough dirt road multiple times a day. Shiny school shoes protected Naomi’s feet—once, not too long ago, she walked this road barefoot.

There isn’t a lick of furniture in Naomi’s hut. Not a chair, not a bed, not a table. She and her guardian family spend most of their time outside, cooking what food they can get. In their native tongue, Naomi’s guardians explained that their life has been blessed by CRF sponsorship. Naomi isn’t hungry anymore. And the family has been tremendously blessed too. These guardians care for 7 orphaned children on Mt. Elgon—they are Christians and even though they are elderly, they believe it’s their responsibility to help orphans.

Naomi used to be hungry and sick from parasites caused by unclean water. But today Naomi smiles and laughs with her friends at school. She is healthy, she is well-fed, and she is receiving the education she always wanted. Best of all, Naomi is being taught about Jesus every single day.