COMING FROM KENYA TO US FOR THE GIFT OF HEARING!
Daniel Kuhani was found in a market place in one of the sprawling, crowded, makeshift neighborhoods on the edges of Nairobi. She carried him across the city to the beautiful front lawn of New Life Home where he was received by the nurses on duty and soon joined the other 48 infants and toddler who are cared for every day by volunteers and staff members. The goal of New Life Home is to give each child who arrives the best baby care, to provide them with the fullest experiences of love and learning, and, ultimately, to have them leave with adopted Kenyan parents.
Daniel’s arrival at New Life Home took place at a time when all of Kenya had been shaken by tragedy. It was September of 2013, and Somali terrorists had just carried out a brutal massacre of unprecedented proportions at the suburban Westgate Mall in a posh section of Nairobi. The massacre had brought the entire country to a halt. Across the huge city, there had been only a trickle of traffic as everyone stayed in their homes riveted by television reports of a four-day standoff in the mall.
For an elderly woman without a car or resources to carry a dying infant to safety across the vast city of Nairobi would be an act of great sacrifice on any day, but in the midst of this eerie and tragic time was an act of true heroism. When the staff of New Life Home opened their gates to Daniel and his Good Samaritan that afternoon, they saw them as the first sign of hope for a city that had been paralyzed.
Over the next few day and weeks, Daniel grew strong and vibrant. Several families of the victims of Westgate visited New Life Home to volunteer with the babies as a means of solace for their own losses. Daniel’s Kenyan name, Kuhani, means “priest or he who brings comfort.” From his earliest days, he lived up to his name.
By the following week, Nairobi was back to normal and Daniel was on track to be matched for Daniel seemed to be missing some of his developmental milestones. After careful testing, they realized that their worst suspicions were true. Daniel is completely deaf.
The staff has rallied around Daniel and many of his other milestones have gotten back on track as they found ways to help him learn and socialize despite his deafness. But he still continues to fall behind and away from his peers in the toddler room, especially as one after another of them has been chosen for adoption.
In June 2015, Casey Kennedy, an Amani summer intern from Indianapolis was volunteering at New Life Home in Nairobi and fell in love with Daniel. Amani is the US nonprofit that has partnered with students and families in the US to work on behalf of children at New Life Home.
Upon returning to Indianapolis, Casey had an Amani bead party to raise funds for Daniel’s care and connected with Dr. Ben Copeland, an otolaryngologist in Indianapolis who has volunteered to make arrangements for Daniel to receive a Cochlear Implant without any costs for the surgical services of his staff or hospital. The surgery is not available in Kenya, but there are several individuals living with Cochlear Implants in Kenya and an audiologist in Nairobi is trained in the process of delivering ongoing therapy for them.
The actual procedure of inserting the device will only take a few hours, but the process of “mapping,” learning how to hear and interpret sound through the Cochlear implant and its transmitter, will require weeks of expertise and attention from audiologists and specialists from an array of disciplines. God willing, by his third birthday next August, Daniel will be returning to Kenya as a hearing boy! And once he’s back in Kenya, the staff at New Life Home will start praying for his next miracle—adoption by a Kenyan family.
Seeing every aspect of this remarkable process come together has been thrilling for Casey and the whole Kennedy family. Casey’s cousin who is currently a student with her at Notre Dame received a Cochlear Implant when she was just Daniel’s age, and the difference it has made for her has the guiding star as they have worked on behalf of this little boy born twenty years later and 8000 miles away. There is nothing like the power of community to move mountains when it comes to the care of a child they’ve come to love.
A fifth-grade class in Wilmington spear-headed by Jack Ellison, a ten-year-old boy who was given the assignment by his teacher to “do something good for someone you don’t know” on the first day of class last fall, has raised $8000 to cover Daniel and Yvonne’s travel and passport and visa costs.
Depending on how quickly the final stages of fundraising for the non-surgical pieces of Daniel’s care comes together, Daniel will travel to the US on May 26 with Yvonne Muthiani, a long-time teacher and care-giver at New Life Home. As a part of her commitment to Daniel’s trip, Yvonne has committed to spending the next two years of her life preparing Daniel for his Cochlear and helping him to gain the best possible value from it as he re-enters life in Kenya as a hearing boy. Yvonne is a gracious and engaging speaker and will be available to tell the story of New Life Home and Daniel’s miracle to families, churches, and other groups as they visit with Amani groups in North Carolina and Indiana.
For information on donating to Daniel’s journey or ongoing care, send a check to Amani, 3279 Robinhood Rd. Winston-Salem, NC 27106 or go to www.amanichildren.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.