“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'” Luke 2:13-14.
Here at the close of another year, we here at Heroes of the Nation would like to say a heartfelt THANK YOU! to all the caring people who make it possible for our young Heroes to grow and prosper. The givers. The prayers. The devoted staff, teachers, mentors. Those who love. Each is a gift, and in this season of giving and remembrance, we want each to know that their part is essential, treasured, and known in Heaven.
May the Lord’s richest blessings be yours this Christmas season, and may there truly be peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
To make a special Christmas or end of the year donation visit our website at htn.org.
‘Heri ya Krismasi’ (Merry Christmas in Kiswahili).
Christmas at Heroes of the Nation is very quiet. There is no laughter in the schoolrooms, no wonderful smells coming from the kitchen, no children waiting for Santa Claus… but that’s only because our kids take a regular break for the holiday! They go to spend time with extended family or their guardians who live in the area near to the Heroes campus.
In Kenya, Christmas is a time for family and friends to gather. Kenyans love to celebrate in community and many return home at this time of the year to enjoy a special meal together. We make sure that each Hero can connect to those within their communities and celebrate the birth of the Messiah. The children will help their families and/or guardians with preparation, general chores, and caring for those in their community. And while things may be quiet at Heroes of the Nations, our kids always look forward to taking time off from school and orphanage life, and are thankful to be a part of their extended communities for this season of celebration.
By the New Year, the Heroes of the Nation campus is once again fully occupied with happy children running to and fro and settling back into their dorms. The beginning of each new year is always exciting for our young heroes, as it marks a graduation to the next grade and the beginning of new clubs and teams. Everyone is determined to get off to good start. But for now, our young heroes are enjoying time in their home communities, excited for a wonderful season of celebration.
When June rolls around, a medical team heads to Kenya to deliver three weeks of healthcare to our kids at Heroes of the Nation and the communities surrounding Nyahururu. It’s been happening every other year for eight years now, and now annual visits are on the calendar.
Under the leadership of Dr. Ross Bethel, MD, Tami McDaniels RN, and Dr. Stacey Hesterly, DDS, from the Seattle and Yakima areas of WA, teams of 12 to 15 medical professionals converge on Heroes of the Nation campus to give no-cost health examinations, treatment, minor surgeries and follow up care. Dr Bethel and Tami McDaniels have made the trip every other year for the past 8 years, raising their own funds for not only travel, but for interpreters, accommodations and food as well as $8,000 in medicine (annually). The Yakima Foursquare Church and Ellensburg Presbyterian Church have given generously to help bring the team to Heroes.
It is a moving sight; people line up for hours and hours to see the American doctors and nurses, who they say provide a higher level of care and high-quality medicine not easily available to them, and at no cost. The free medical camps are coordinated by our staff at Heroes of the Nation as well as by Bishop Weston Gitonga who is well-known in the region. Our Heroes staff makes arrangements for the team, orders and purchases medicines and supplies, reserves the locations, and hires interpreters and support staff.
The doctors and nurses work with patients, train Kenyan doctors and nurses while on the job, and provide continuing education for medical professionals in the area.
In addition to the medical team visits, Dr. Ross Bethel has also built a medical clinic in Nyahururu town. This clinic has become self-supporting, and includes a pharmacist and a clinical officer who see patients from the community and also provide low or no-cost healthcare to our 500 children at Heroes of the Nation.
Some exciting things are in the works as well. In 2018, Dr. Stacey Hesterly, DDS, is preparing to bring additional dental professionals to Heroes. The added personnel will enable the team to perform dental surgeries needed by our children and the people in the community. Because the team will be there for three weeks, she and her staff will have time to see patients, address problems, and provide post-op follow-ups.
In addition, through relationships at the various hospitals, medical and nursing schools in the WA area, Tami McDaniels, RN, has proposed taking medical and nursing students with them to complete their field work requirements at Heroes. To learn all about our team’s past and present work, meet team members, donate, or to join our medical missions team, visit our website.
Admittance to Heroes of the Nation means things were not easy for you. Chances are, if you’ve found your way to us, it’s likely you’ve spent a fair amount of your life up until that point looking for your next meal and a safe place to sleep. In some cases, you may have not even know your own name or your family’s name.
We welcome these vulnerable children, and given time, they not only relax and begin to be kids again, they start to see who they are, that their future is bright, that dreaming is a part of a healthy lifestyle, and they begin to carry hope. They become part of a strong, new “tribe” of builders and leaders, where warm, healthy meals, a loving community, and lots of new friends make the transition a quick one for most of our kids.
The counselors and teachers at Heroes of the Nation have a special understanding of the unique challenges our kids face when they join the Heroes family. The grief. The fear. The uncertainty. The teachers become their new parents, who guide them to the Lord, providing the love and safety that every child needs. It is within this environment of love where every child is known and accepted that the healing process takes place.
Our young Heroes are taught about God and what He’s done in giving us Jesus. They begin to see themselves as extraordinary, set apart, fully accepted and loved by their Heavenly Father, the God of the universe! It doesn’t take long for each child to adopt the core values of Heroes of the Nation, where their Heavenly Father is always in a good mood, always loving, and very personal.
The prophet Isaiah wrote something profound a few thousand years ago in Chapter 61 that we believe applies perfectly to our children. Isaiah prophesied that Christ would preach good news to the poor, heal their broken hearts, proclaim liberty to those in captivity, and open doors for those bound in prison. He comforts those who mourn, giving them a garment of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness. So that they may be called Trees of Righteousness, the Lord’s planting, that He may be glorified.
These Trees of Righteousness are the ones who will rebuild the old ruins, raise up the former desolations, repair the ruined cities and the desolations of many generations. Everlasting joy shall be theirs! We believe and prophesy this over our Heroes, and thank God for every opportunity we have to cultivate the ground beneath them.
December 1 is World AIDS Day–a time we consider all that has been lost to the disease and remember all those whose lives have forever been impacted by the loss of family and community from this ravager. Since 2002, Heroes of the Nation has been serving approximately 500 orphans and vulnerable children annually at its home and school in Nyahururu, Kenya. And, in any discussion about orphans and vulnerable children, the impact of HIV/AIDS is sure to come up.
The statistics are sobering: in 1985, just over 20,000 cases of HIV/AIDS were identified across every region of the world. In just 32 years, HIV/AIDS has killed more than 36.5 million people, and has infected over 76 million worldwide. Kenya, Uganda, and Mozambique are tied for the fourth largest AIDS epidemic in the world, and of immediate concern to Heroes of the Nation are the over 17.3 million children in Sub-saharan Africa who have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that over 2 million Kenyan children alone have been orphaned due to the disease, while nearly 2 million more children are extremely vulnerable, living with HIV infected caregivers.
Thankfully, HIV prevalence declines as prevention awareness is taught and medical treatment improves, but the impacts of AIDS on children, families, communities, economies and societies will accumulate for generations. So we pause today to reflect on and pray for those whose whole lives have been forever altered by this disease.
It is a privilege to partner with the church, government,and non-governmental organizations to serve the children and families who have been and continue to be changed by AIDS. Protecting the full potential of a child requires substantial investment, experience and inspiration. We are grateful to our generous, faithful donors who allow us to continue to pursue our mission to raise each orphan into a leader with a heart of a Hero.
With around 500 kids on campus and over 30 in college and university, donations made to Heroes of the Nation are spread thin and wide these days! Providing three meals a day for that many mouths plus giving them a special mid-morning tea and/or porridge is no small feat, and this past year it has been especially challenging as drought and famine have caused a huge increase in food prices. Our African Director, Violet Gitonga, has had to balance need and availability, but even so, the extra costs put a $22,000-dollar strain on our budget.
We’re grateful to the men and women who barter on our behalf to provide us the best deals they can find, and they’ve had to go far beyond Kenya to find the staple foods for our Heroes–in some cases all the way to Brazil! Maize, rice, and cabbage are in the highest demand, but thanks to these faithful partners who walk beside us and make sure we have what we need, our kids never had to go without.
Besides food expenses, there are significant costs associated with educating students as well. We have an amazing staff of 60-plus people, 22 of whom teach and train the children from preschool through high school. All of our teaching staff are college educated and hold various degrees from early childhood education to a Master’s degree in Biology. These dedicated people pour out on our kids daily, and are literally available 24/7 to our students, as 90% of our staff live on campus, too.
And then there’s electricity, water, and internet access along with general repairs and maintenance of the 10 acre campus, and of course clothing and general hygiene items for our children. Imagine the soap and toothpaste needed for 500 children! Violet and her staff never cease to do the impossible with what they are given, always relying on God to provide above and beyond and in every way imaginable.
When a donation is given, it follows a specific route. Funds that are designated for a particular need are applied to that project only. Likewise, 100% of any money given to our child sponsorship program goes directly to that purpose. We track all donations through Quickbooks, holding back anything earmarked for specific projects, and sending out those funds as a project progresses. Gifts that are not specifically earmarked for a project or budget area are applied at the area of greatest need.
Giving is an easy process through our wesite at www.htn.org, and Heroes of the Nation is a registered 501(c)3 organization, so all gifts are tax-deductible. You can also help sponsor a specific child. Visit Meet the Children to learn more. And thank you for helping raise up these young heroes!