Kerin's Kids (Orphan/Children's Ministry)
Provide baby formula for infants whose mothers have died or are too malnurished to nurse their children.
Provide formula for mothers who are HIV-positive.
Provide medicine and medical care for children who are seriously ill (including special needs children).
Provide in-house care for those children who are seriously ill and whose families cannot provide adequate care.
One-half of all children in Zambia die before they reach adulthood; but, upon closer examination, most of these deaths occur within the first three years of life. Most of these deaths are the result of malnutrition, disease (malaria) and HIV-AIDS. Experience has taught us that the most critical factor in determining the survival of children is the health and well-being of the mother. If the mother dies or is unable to adequately care (nurse) the child due to malnurishment, HIV-AIDS or some other illness, then that child is a serious risk of dying.
According to a 2014 report by the U.N., Zambia is the most malnurished country in all of Africa (second in the world behind Haiti)! Hence, many mothers in Zambia are seriously malnurished and unable to properly nurse their children (if at all). The situation is even more critical when on considers that one-fourth of the women of childbirth age in Zambia are infected with HIV. And, since there is a 25% chance that a mother with HIV-AIDS will infect her child with HIV through nursing, it is easy to understand why so many children are dying from disease and malnurishment due to AIDS. Since few families have cows for milk and cannot afford baby formula, mothers have no choice but to nurse their children (even though they have HIV-AIDS). And, mothers unable to adequately nurse their children have no option at all. Their children just die.
Originally we thought of our ministry (Kerin's Kids) as an orphan ministry; but most children in Zambia are not orphans in the traditional way that we in the West think of orphans (child whose father and mother are both dead). Because Africans think of family as the extended family, a child is not necessarily an orphan (and destitude) when the parents both die. Such children in Africa become the responsibility of the uncles, anuts and other family members. However, what is critical to the survival of these children is the ability of the family to adequately care for and feed these children. But, again, it comes back to the health (absence) of the mother. It is for this reason that we now think of our ministry more broadly as a Children's Ministry.
Consequently, whenever we are informed of a child in need of assistance, our approach is to assess the overall family situation in order to determine how best to assist a child at risk. In most cases we are able to solve the problem by simply providing baby formula for two years (and teaching the family about nutrition). Even if the mother has died, we do not believe that putting the child in our facility (Baby House) is the proper solution. Only when the family situation proves to be to unstable and inadequate do we consider placing the child in our Baby House. And, even then, it is only a temporary solution. The goal is to work with the extended family in an effort to return that child back into the care of the family as soon as possible. We are not an orphanage that keeps children indefinately. We believe that children should be raised in the family, not in an institution.
However, if the mother is still alive, the our goal is to determine how best way to keep that mother alive and healthy. This might involve getting the mother on HIV medicine or assisting the mother with medicine and/or food to increase their health (teaching them about malnurishment and how to eat properly). And, for mothers who have HIV, we provide them with baby formula so that the mothers will not pass the virus on to their children through nursing.
However, in some cases, the family situation is so messed up and the child so sick/malnourished that we find it best to put the child in our Baby House so as to nurse them back to health and provide necessary medical care. Our goal, however, is always to put the child back with the mother and/or extended family. We do not provide long-term care for children as we believe the best solution is for children to be raised by their families (not in an institution).
We also provide assistance to special needs children. In one instance, Kerin was able to raise money to pay for an operation to restore the sight of a three-year old who was deaf and blind (and severely undeveloped). She has provided phyisical therapy and nutrition to a 10-year old with cerbal palsy and a girl with some type of undiagnosed neureo-muscular disease. She has helped young girls who have been raped and given birth a baby that they and their families were unable to care for.
How Did Kerin Get Started In This Ministry?
Kerin is the daughter of David and Lorie. In 2006 she visited the orphanage at Namwianga Mission where she fell in love with a little orphan named, Susann (whose mother had died in childbirth). Kerin was horified to hear that the family put Susann in the grave with her month at burial (which is a not-so-uncommon practice when the mother dies in childbirth). Susann was rescued by one of her uncles who took her to Namwianga. Kerin asked and was given permission to take Susann home with her for a few weeks. Susann never went back as Kerin eventually adopted her.
Then, in 2008, Namwianga called Kerin to asked her if she would care for a little infant (Zainne) who was extremely sick and in need of more constant care than Namwianga could adequately provide at the time. Zainne had been brought to them by several boys who had found him abandoned in a box on the railroad tracks. Kerin agreed but she was warned that this baby was not expected to live much longer as he was seriously ill. He was born infected with syphilis and had tested postived for HIV-antibiotics (although he tested negative for HIV 18 months later). For the first month he had to be given daily injections for syphilis (which he eventually was cured of). And, fortunately, Zainne did not die as expected. And, like Kerin, Zainne never was returned to Namwianga. Kerin adopted him as well. (above picture: Kerin with Susann and Zaine in 2009).
It was not long after this that Kerin was called by a family in the middle of the night and asked to assist them in a crisis. A family member had given birth to a child and tried to smoother the baby with a pillow. The mother was terribly depressed as she already had four children and unable to care for them as her husband was unwilling to provide any support. Kerin took the baby (Danni) to her house and began working with the mother to find a permanent solution. Eventually the mother was able to take Danni back into her home, but she soon fill sick from AIDS and died. Kerin again took Danni into her home until she was able to work with the extended family to take the baby.
It was from these early experiences that Kerin began to realize how many children are dying in Zambia every day from unexpected circumstances that put them at risk. From these experiences, Kerin has gone on to develop a ministry (Kerin's Kids) to save the lives of these children.
How You Can Help?
If you would like to assist in any of these ministries, then you may do so by writing a check to "Zambia Missions" and mailing it to the following address:
1910 Sycamore View Rd
Bartlett, TN 38134
Be sure to include a note and/or a memo on the check stating what your contribution is for. Here are some specific areas of need:
- Kerin's Kids -- general operating expenses.
- Baby Formula -- for nursing mothers to prevent the transmission of HIV to the child ($45 /mo).
- Scholarships -- provides full-time care for children in the Baby House who need it ($75 /mo).
- Kerin's Kids--medical expenses -- money for doctor's care, medicine, and surgery.