In Pastor Isaac’s Words
“It has been a challenge since my interaction with the children of Gabriel’s Promise from Sudan. They opened my eyes to the suffering of the many children from Sudan and I felt inadequate to meet their needs. As we shared, I felt that it brought healing as they shared their pains, abuses, difficulties and the hopelessness they felt. We therefore developed Group Therapy sessions where we encouraged them to share the pains and joys, hope and hopelessness, ambitions and challenges to surmount. As they shared, we picked those who had difficulties opening up and gave them individualized attention where they could share on one-on-one sessions and receive support and a shoulder to cry on.
Through my Bible College training, I have gained knowledge and skills on how to support them and also learned on the job as well as support from other ministers and counsellors.
Over time, we have developed Therapeutic structures to help us enable the children to grow and develop in all aspects of their lives and especially gain life skills psycho-social competence
In Group therapy, they are encouraged to share in the group and receive support and encouragement from the others. As a Counsellor, I help moderate the group and ensure they each get opportunity to share without intimidation, judgment or being laughed at. It helps them see and hear that others too have gone through challenges and have learned how to cope with them and that they can share and receive support and understanding. From these sessions, I pick issues that may need to be addressed through individual sessions as well as individuals that have been hurt or paining and may need to be given individual support as well as time to gain confidence in trusting others.
This is a time to receive support, approval, empathy and also pray for each other.
Group therapy also gives opportunity for them to share where they feel others are not supportive in their daily lives like managing the compound, indiscipline etc as well as praise those they feel go out of their ways to fit and make the team a success.
We also train in the area of life skills for psycho-social competence like assertiveness, study skills, listening skills, peer counseling and education.
Here the children get opportunity to share with a counselor in confidence on a wide variety of areas. They are encouraged to share with the counselor where they feel they want to unburden, are hurting or are troubled, as well as assess progress they have made.
As a counselor, I also assess progress and may encourage the person to have more or less sessions. They are also encouraged to make appointments where they feel they want to share in confidence.
Individual sessions are also structured to see progress in their daily lives like school work, managing their lives, cases of indiscipline.
The mission of Gabriel’s Promise is to honor and surpass the commitment that Gabriel Atem Wal made to his 11 nieces and nephews. Gabriel promised to pay for them to go to private boarding school if they met the goal of bringing their grades up to at least what we in the United States would consider a “B” average.
Since they met the challenge so quickly and thoroughly, we want to honor that spirit and surpass the original commitment and ensure that these children’s basic necessities are met as well preparing them to excel in life. These would include basic medical needs such as when one of the children becomes sick, provide a second set of school uniforms and a set of casual clothes, provide toiletries, schools books, the extra cost for school field trips, bible study materials and study bibles. Also to provide spiritual guidance, mentoring and accountability from a pastor/Counsellor who will provide the administrative support to coordinate the efforts and channel them towards meeting the objective. This involves holding the schools accountable, ensure they are in a safe environment, attend parent teacher conferences & special events, receive progress reports for each student/pupil as well as be involved where the school feel the parent/guardian need to be involved to enforce deviance/indiscipline or ensure good performance in academic and social life is maintained, ensuring the teachers appreciate the group of the children and handle them appropriately to enable them fit in the Kenyan culture and school system, etc.
We have experienced challenges in raising funds to enable older children further their education beyond secondary school and receive college/university level training to enable them obtain jobs and support themselves. Without taking them this extra mile, we fear our effort may be in vain.
The most far reaching goal is to provide money for some of the children to continue on to a college education and degree.
Our interaction with this children has opened our eyes to other children in our society that are suffering. They are many that were displaced from their homes by the political violence and feared going back. Their children were traumatized by the violence, rape, lose of beloved ones – some killed before their very eyes and their houses and property put on fire. Though they had property, they became beggers, their children have to drop out of school and find unskilled jobs as domestic workers, etc. It is our prayer and hope to grow to reach to many more children and help them find love, healing and practical support to enable them find meaning in life.
James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Proverbs 22:6: Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
2 Corinthians 8:11: Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.