Meet Pendo

Pendo means love in Swahili, and she definitely needs it. Pendo has had quite a rough start in life. Zawadi, who is her sister, was born when Pendo was about two and a half. Shortly after Zi’s birth, their mother passed away and father disappeared. There appears to have been domestic violence involved, but there was never a formal investigation, so it is unclear. Since Pendo was old that she didn’t need formula, she was taken in by her mother’s mother, while Zawadi came to Nkoaranga orphanage. For the next two years, Pendo lived with her grandmother in severe poverty. Mama Pendo, who runs the orphanage, keeps in contact with all of the children’s families where possible. In January of last year, she heard that Pendo’s grandmother was having trouble caring for her, that her own health was flagging, and that Pendo was suffering as a result. 
Mama Pendo (center) holding Zawadi, with their
grandmother (left), Pendo, and great uncle in front of
the grandmother’s house.
In April, Mama Pendo, my own mother, Zawadi and I got into a car and drove the several hours to find her family and talk to them about her future. Once we arrived, it took us over an hour of going to different relatives’ houses to find the grandmother. It turns out that she had run away and hidden because she was afraid that we were bringing Zawadi back to her, and, heartbreakingly, she knew she was incapable of caring for her. When we explained that we just wanted her to see how well Zi was doing, she was thrilled to hold her granddaughter and let us get to know Pendo. 
Pendo was in fairly good physical shape, but she was undernourished and hadn’t been vaccinated. The grandmother stated that she had a lot of trouble taking care of her, and asked for her to also come to the orphanage. As with all of the children, it is understood that should there be family members willing and able to care for the children, they are always welcome – and they are highly encouraged to keep in touch.

When we got back into the orphanage and got her washed, it became clear that Pendo has had a rough time of it. Her entire body is covered in small burns, and while it’s theoretically possible that they are accidental kerosene burns, their regularity and number suggests that they are the result of some type of abuse. She had some trouble adjusting to life at the orphanage – for her first few months she was often violent with the other children and had trouble bonding with the mamas. She spent days barely speaking to anyone. 

Pendo (left) with Farajah and David
That girl is gone. Pendo today is a gorgeous, happy child – cuddling with mamas, volunteers, and the other kids, fully integrated into the Nkoaranga family. She’s LOUD – confident and excited to share every thought. She’s incredibly smart – despite having no exposure to English and limited exposure to Swahili in her early life (her family spoke primarily the dominant tribal language Ki-Meru), she is thriving in kindergarten and will be ready to go to school next year with Abdulli, David, and Andrea (and the help of The Foundation For Tomorrow). We are so proud of how far she’s come. 

To start school next year, Pendo will need a sponsor – someone who can commit to being part of her life for the next ten years. An excellent education, room, board, clothes, extracurriculars, medical care, and care over vacations all cost just $1,100 per year through our partnership with TFFT. We are still looking for sponsors for all four of next year’s kids. We hope that someone reading this will end up being part of the family we’re creating for Pendo – whether through a full, half, or quarter sponsorship. She’s been through more in her five years than any child deserves – but we are determined to give her the happy, healthy childhood she, and all of our children, deserve.

UPDATE: Three sponsors have stepped forward for Pendo’s year to year tuition (one committing $550 and two to $225), and the wonderful Claire Wyatt has raised a significant portion of the money it will take for her two years’s tuition year up-front payment ($2,200 total). Thank you so much! 

If you are interested in sponsoring Pendo or any of next year’s children, please get in touch with us!