From the initial inception through today, many challenges have been overcome on this journey towards opening the Reach International Children's Center. Below are just a few of the steps that were taken on our quest.
ALCC Visits Kenya
Elders from Abundant Life Christian Center visit Kenya to celebrate the 25th anniversary of King Jesus Faith Ministries. While there, they see the conditions of the street children, and are moved to help.
A Committee is Formed
Experts from the realms of education, social work, psychology, addiction, and more come together to discuss the home. The biggest question was... does the model for what we want to accomplish exist? Is there anyone else doing this type of thing, and doing it well? Or do we need to be the pioneers?
The Search for the Right House Begins
Pastor Mark Haywood undertakes the first of what will ultimately be several trips to Kenya, all in order to find the right house for the vision of the project.
A House is Found
A property is found. It has multiple buildings, walls, and other benefits. Negotiations begin. Unbeknownst to the team, these negotiations would last for two years.
ALCC Gets a Letter from the Governor of Bungoma
Word had begun to spread: Abundant Life was looking to do something about the street children, and the government wanted to help.
An Orphanage, or Something Else?
In-depth research was undertaken by the Reach to answer if the right solution was indeed an orphanage, or if a new model needed to be firmly established. The goal, after all, was not just to give the boys a permanent home, but rather to rehabilitate them to where they could eventually return to society.
Additional research was undertaken to ensure that whatever was developed, that it would work specifically for Kenya. The goal was never to Americanize these children; rather, whatever was established had to be something that would be approved of and supported by the Kenyan government.
The First House Falls Through
In 2013, they though they found the house. In early 2015, it feel through, and the hunt had to begin all over again.
Abundant Life Asks for Support
Back in Syracuse, ALCC spreads word about the home, and receives financial support in order to carry the mission forward.
Finding a Lawyer
A laywer who knew NGO law had to be found and secured for the project. Through an interesting twist, the young woman they found - originally from Nairobi, Kenya - actually attended Abundant Life Christian Center while attending law school in Syracuse!
Finally, the Right Property
At long last, a home was found, and this time, negotiations were quick. In October into November of 2016, the ALCC team closed on the property for the children's home.
Preparing the Property
Construction began, to finish the wall around the property, and to get the home ready for the first wave of residents.
Naming the House
Deciding the correct name for the house was a matter of surprising complexity, as whatever name was decided had to be approved by the government, and work for the NGO approval. It couldn't sound like a church. With some of the proposed names, paperwork had to be submitted, discussed, processed, and returned.
An election dispute in Kenya shuts down the government... for sixth months. Any sort of government approval slows to a crawl.
In February, the NGO was approved! The Kenyan government came back and said that yes, the suggested model would indeed help society, and prevent crime.
The process of choosing the boys had begun. It was decided - after much research and exploration of the topic - that boys under 11 years old would be ideal for the home. After several conversations with the locals, the first seven boys were chosen.
The Home Opens!
In April of 2018, the home officially opened and the first seven boys were brought in! After much work and toil, the hard work paid off and the vision had finally become a reality.
The word is out, and now, more boys want in to the home, and ongoing screening is taking place so that more can indeed be moved in with the time is reach. In the meantime, Reach continues to give out food and groceries, and further help the community.