A Noble American African Mother
Not a single mother but in a country overloaded with children who are motherless.
Kate is not a typical America mom. She is a slim redhead who always wears a wide smile and may break out in song at any moment. An exceptionally intelligent woman, she could’ve followed whatever career path she chose. Kate’s spirit, sense of adventure, deep Christian beliefs, and compassion took her away from her Texas roots, however. They took her all the way to Africa.
In 2005 she moved with her husband, Johnny, and their three children to make a home in Kenya. They left behind the American dream, a house, job and car to answer a call that wouldn’t stop ringing. They had more faith than money, more courage than caution, and more grit than most.
Nine years and two more biological children later, they are also parents to nine Kenyan girls who otherwise would’ve been lost on the streets or in unthinkably abusive situations as so many are. In Kenya orphans are considered a nuisance even by blood relatives; they are seen as a burden. Kenya has the third highest number of HIV/AIDS orphans in the world, estimated at 890,000.
Kate and Johnny saw the need in Africa for parents and founded A Future and a Hope with the goal to provide family for some who would otherwise not have one. Theirs is not like a typical orphanage in Africa where huge numbers of orphans are jammed into buildings that are owned and run to make a profit. There is virtually no government oversight of the orphanages and much corruption, so conditions can be and often are appalling. A far cry from a healthy family environment.
Kate is a natural mom. Maybe that is why she is able to create a home full of love, laughter, and life. Mothers establish the tone of the home. Mothers make the difference in the lives of young children. Mothers prepare children to take on life. Kate is mom to fourteen children. Here are just a few universal tips American moms could take from her.
- Mothers, babies need you.
Kate is like an Earth Mother in many ways. She wore each of her five babies in a sling close to her heart and nursed them until they were comfortable on their own two feet. From Medical Daily, Lizette Borreli states, “Babies are extremely sensitive to their parents’ emotions and moods because of their perceptive social barometers. They have the ability to quickly pick up the parental vibes and soon begin to adopt those feelings as their won.” Kate’s patience and tenderness seems to be the source of the way all their children treat one another. According to Laura Simeon, MS, MLIS, when a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes – walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses, and exercises his vestibular system, which controls balance. The sling is in essence a “transitional womb” for the new baby, who has not yet learned to control his bodily functions and movements.http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/laura_simeon.html
- A Mom’s voice sets the tone. Children are influenced by the way you speak.
Kate speaks Swahili calmly, soothingly, and lovingly with a lilt in her voice. And yet she is still firm as she manages the home. A sense of harmony fills their lives. The Kenyan girls and Kate and Johnny’s biological kids live together as siblings. There is no whining, no discord, and no jealousy among the fourteen children. All living together as one big happy family, they share everything, including Kate’s attention. Each child is accepted for the person they are. Respect and love are evident with polite language and consideration for one another.
- Mothers who work hard without complaint teach their children a valuable lesson.
The older three girls must leave very early each morning to walk forty-five minutes to catch transportation to their Kenyan school that doesn’t even have electricity. Kate often walks with them. Then she returns to the house to home-school her biological children. She makes her own bread, cheese, sausage, and noodles. Supplies are limited. Breakfast might be a slice of sweet potato, or a biscuit, or a boiled egg. No one complains.
- Moms who demonstrate a zeal for life give children a priceless gift.
Kate and family live in what Americans would call poverty, by choice, completely dependent on donors. No church or institutional sponsors provide funds for their work. Last year, with donations for the purpose, they bought a twelve-acre plot of land they call The Shire. It overlooks the Rift Valley and is a beautiful piece of earth. Recently the entire family moved out of the nice house they have lived in for seven years and became farmers on The Shire. The family of sixteen lives in a 2000 square foot barn built under the direction of Kate and a friend who helped design the structure. It is built from Cobb, a natural building material made from sand, clay, water, straw, and earth with dirt floors, and none of the amenities or décor of a nice home. Life there is primitive. It is definitely off the grid. There is no running water, no electricity or indoor toilets, and certainly no air conditioning.
Their goal by living on and working this land is to create a model for caring, not only for the children of Kenya, but the land as well. Unsustainable land use is just one of the ecological problems in Kenya. Growing their own food and not paying rent, will be more efficient, but certainly more difficult. Kate remains undaunted. She demonstrates an unusual faith and determination and the children follow her lead.
Kate is our daughter and I’m sure we are biased, but you must agree this American African mother is an example of the unfailing commitment of a truly Virtuous Woman.
For more information about Kate visit www.purechristianity.blogs.com
Gail Cawley Showalter is a Life Coach, a freelance author and the Founder of SMORE for Women, an alliance of women whose goal is Single Moms – Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, & Empowered. www.smoreforwomen.org
She lives in Nederland, Texas with her husband, Sam, and their poodle, Prissy. They have six grown children between them and fourteen grandchildren.