A Prayer Answered in the Nick of Time

By Donna Atola, Kenya Field Communications Specialist   |  Photos by the Hope Center

A little girl’s prayer — plus a quick response from her Child Champions — save her ailing grandmother.

Namekwi reads the Turkana Bible to her grandmother, Atabon.

The first prayer that most kids in Kenya learn and easily remember is the prayer before meals. They later learn “The Lord’s Prayer,” which is taught in most schools at the lower primary level.

This was how Namekwi, 8, learned to pray. She also learned how to pray for the sick — an action that would serve a loved one well.

She is enrolled at Lokwamosing Hope Center in Turkana, a hard place in the northwest of Kenya.

Namekwi lives with her grandmother in a Manyatta house — a small, short hut made of sticks that are tied together with a rope — in Lokwamosing village, less than half a mile from the Hope Center.

Just like most households in the village, Namekwi’s house has no electricity or running water.

She moved in with her grandmother after her parents separated. Her siblings live with their mother in a different house within the village.

Her mother, Carolyne, is a cook at the Hope Centers and also sells charcoal to earn a living, which helps her support her kids and her aging mother. She earns the equivalent of $8 on a good day if she sells a sack of charcoal.

Namekwi, center, stands with her grandmother, Atabon, left, and her mother, Carolyn, near their home.

Namekwi was enrolled in the sponsorship program at the Hope Center in 2022 when the program began. Her mother and her grandmother, Atabon, heard about the Hope Center from their neighbor.

Namekwi enjoys playing hide-and-seek with her friends as well as participating in Awana games. Awana is an international Christian nonprofit youth development organization that partners with OneChild. Hope Centers support the organization with a wholesome child development curriculum that includes games to support children’s physical development.

Namekwi also enjoys the food and is learning about God at the center.

Battling a Mysterious Illness

A year ago, after Namekwi had joined the Hope Center, her grandmother Atabon became sick. She complained of on-and-off headaches and body aches.

At first, Atabon tried taking painkillers given by her friends and family members. When the pain became unbearable, she went to a health dispensary less than a mile from her home where she was diagnosed with malaria.

Namekwi regularly fetches firewood for the household.

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite transmitted through the female anopheles mosquito. It is a common disease in warmer tropical and subtropical countries like Kenya.

Atabon was treated for malaria, but little did the doctors know that the disease had become chronic. She began medication but a year later she still struggled with the disease.

Grandmother Goes Missing

Normally, when Namekwi goes to school in the morning, Atabon goes out to herd her goats in the thickets on rocky hills across the dry riverbed in their village.

At 3 p.m. when Namekwi returns home from school, she goes to fetch firewood across the river and then fetches water from a nearby water pump as she waits for her grandmother to come home.

Her grandmother’s return is usually announced by the goats walking onto their homestead straight into their barn.

Because the goats know their way back home, they usually lead the way as Atabon follows from a distance. She usually arrives home minutes after her goats have arrived.

Namekwi enjoys reading the Bible.

One day, Namekwi was home when the goats returned. She helped lock up the goat shelter as she usually does and waited for her grandmother to arrive, as is the norm, before she went for water and firewood.

But after about an hour, her grandmother was not yet home.

“I decided to go for firewood with the hope that I would meet her along the way,” says Namekwi. “I also felt that something was off because she never takes time to return home.”

As she picked firewood in the bushes along the path that her grandmother follows daily, she hoped that something bad hadn’t happened to her.

Her village, which is at the border of two different tribal communities, has in the recent past been under attack by bandits from the neighboring community. The bandits stole animals and even killed people in the community during the raids.

With this in mind, Namekwi hoped for something different.

When she didn’t find her grandmother in the bushes, she started walking back still hopeful that she was safe. On the way home, she saw her grandmother lying in the dry riverbed and quickly ran toward her.

A Girl’s Powerful Prayer

Namekwi called out for her grandmother and all she received was a faint response. Amid fear and anxiety, little Namekwi remembered to utter a little prayer for her grandmother.

“Dear God, my grandmother is not looking OK. Please wake her up and heal her, in Jesus’ name, amen,” she prayed.

“I remembered that my pastor tells us to pray when in trouble, like when sick,” says Namekwi. “So, I asked God to wake her up because I was not sure what made her weak and why she was lying on the riverbed.”

After praying, she ran to the Hope Center, which is near the riverbed, to get her Child Champion, Victor, and the pastor, Wilson.

Namekwi likes to pray for her loved ones.

They carried her grandmother to the church, and she was transported to the hospital from there. Before Atabon was taken away, Wilson and the Child Champions prayed for her.

After a few days in the hospital being treated for chronic malaria, Atabon returned home feeling better. Four months later, the illness has not returned.

“I am glad that my grandchild remembered to pray for me,” Atabon says. “I don’t go to church, but I now believe in prayers because the little girl’s prayers were answered.”

Namekwi dreams of becoming a teacher in the future because she admires her teachers at school and at the Hope Center. She loves how kind they are to her.

Her mother, Carolyne, says she is grateful for the great foundation being set up for kids at the Hope Center.

“I see how they are taught at the center, and I am hopeful that our kids will transform our community,” says Carolyne. “I pray that my daughter achieves whatever dreams she has in life and becomes all that she can become in life.”

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