This week, Rev. Billy Kluttz interviews NYAPC member Morgan Brown, who coordinates NYAPC’s partnership with the Orphan and Vulnerable Children Program in Njoro, Kenya, to find out how they are coping with the pandemic.
For those who might be new to The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, can you briefly describe the Njoro Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program and the history of our involvement with it? — NYAPC, along with Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, have partnered with the Njoro Presbyterian Church of East Africa (P.C.E.A.) to support a Njoro Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program since 2007. The program currently supports 35 students from elementary school to university. On Saturdays, the children in the program gather for meals, devotionals lead my the committee from the Njoro church, tutoring sessions with teachers, and recreation. This time helps to strengthen their academic skills and gives them a community of support. The program’s social worker also checks on them by making visits to their schools and homes. In addition to this support, the program provides all of the students with school uniforms, school tuition, and a weekly supply of maize to take to home to their families.
How is The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church continuing to support the Njoro Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) during the pandemic? — The NYAPC OVC committee has been in communication with the Njoro OVC committee members. Through email and WhatApps, we have been able to provide updates, encouragement, some fun brain teasers, and many prayers. We are going to try our first cross-continental joint board meeting via Zoom during the first week of June! We have also been able to provided additional funds for maize so that the children can take home twice as much maize each week to support their families’ increased food needs.
What has changed because of the novel coronavirus? What has remained the same within the program? — Like in the United States, schools and businesses in Kenya have closed. The OVC program is now encouraging the children to come twice a week (once on Wednesdays and once on Saturdays) in groups of 10 to help maintain social distancing. They are still served meals and pray together, but the other program activities have been eliminated for now. The children’s families have increased food needs as children are home from school all day and extended family members have had to return home due to closed businesses. Through NYAPC’s support, the program is able to provide twice as much maize as usual for the children to take home, and through the generous contributions of Njoro P.C.E.A. members and friends, the children have taken home vegetables, meat, and some other food items. The program’s dedicated social worker, Susan, has continued her home visits so families are still feeling supported and encouraged through these difficult times.
How should we be praying for the program and its leadership? — We can pray for the continued health and well being of all of the program’s children and their families. We can thank God for the generosity and blessings of the Njoro committee members as they have risen to the challenge of meeting the needs of the children in these difficult times. We can pray for their continued flexibility, faithfulness, and wisdom as they continue to adapt to serve the programs as conditions change.