Back in the 90’s, the late Mr. Chidi Ogbonna and Mercy Chidi Baidoo worked with different international organizations for a period spanning more than 10 years, until God gave them a strong conviction to reach out and save children’s lives. This call gradually built a huge fire of passion in their hearts and kept them restless and greatly disturbed at the reality of living in luxury yet seeing the human degradation, suffering, death and rampant abuse ravaging the lives of children and families. It was a curious newspaper headline that jolted Chidi and Mercy.
Ripples International is a child focused organization dedicated to saving and serving Children through community focused initiatives in Kenya.
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“40% IN HIV INFECTIONS” was that shocking headline that transfixed them. 40%% was almost HALF the community! Something has to be done. After reading that saddening newspaper story, the couple was convinced that God would rather have them leave their comfort zone and offer part of their lives to the service of humanity. With these revelations and confirmations, their hearts became even more restless and made them seriously consider the option of resigning from stable jobs to start an accountable organization to serve the needs of children and families.
WHAT WE DOThat singular goal we started off with of rescuing abandoned babies and rehabilitating orphans and vulnerable children in society has reaped massive rewards. Thanks to our work, we have expanded our focus to key community development initiatives related to women and children in Kenya.
ANSWERING THE CALL
As much as their hearts were settled on the assurance of the divine calling, Chidi and Mercy had the fear of economic survival. They prayed to God, seeking counsel from well meaning people and waited upon God. Armed with faith in God, family savings, encouragement from friends and a determination that couldn’t be deterred, they started on a journey that where they would later realize the true cost of the call. In the words of Ripples International Co-Founder, Chidi Ogbonna…
“Having heard the divine direction to settle in Meru [Mercy’s home town], we walked out of our old lives, rented a house in Meru town and started the work in line with the divine calling. Our driving force was to fully answer God’s call in our lives, serve God in our generation through helping children, families and the oppressed. Choosing to move to Meru didn’t happen without second thought. It meant giving serious consideration between giving part of our life experiences in service to humanity and resisting the temptation of getting a huge salary at the end of the month. We were focused and determined. We had to do what was necessary to save lives and give hope.
The reality that any girl would undergo sexual defilement or abuse from any member of the family is shocking; and one that brings tears to your eyes. Yet, it is true. And it is widespread is some communities. In fact, it’s been going on for many years. And the girls, most of them between 8-16 years, suffer silently, with no one to help them. It’s this solemn realization that something urgently needed to be done that prompted Mercy Chidi and Chidi Ogbonna to leave well paying international jobs and embark on a mission of rescue. However, it was the death of baby Gatwiri that confirmed that they were indeed answering an urgent call. Mercy says this about this life-changing encounter:
“In 2001, Chidi and I had a real life encounter in Meru that brought tears to our eyes. One baby, baby Gatwiri died out of neglect. The family saw no use of taking care of an HIV positive dying baby. Our hearts were painfully pierced with this experience out of which God confirmed to us the need to start a rescue home where such babies would not have to die but find love, hope and life.“
OBEYING THE VISION
In the course of our work, we discovered another shocking and equally disturbing trend in society. Babies, as young as 7 days old, were (and still are) abandoned by their families, Some are dropped in pit latrines, abandoned at the local police station or thrown in the woods. Upon investigating the causes behind this, tears filled our eyes when parents told us they were unable to fend for the little babies. With no money or no source of livelihood, the only possible solution they had was to drop them off at the nearby police station, hoping that the police would be able to assist. Other parents find that their baby is born with HIV and they feel that all hope is lost. They therefore abandon the baby. In many African societies, HIV is seen as a taboo and a cause of curses in the family. Some callous mothers simply give birth and promptly drop the baby in a pit latrine out of shame and fear of societal condemnation. The stigma facing children with HIV/AIDS and orphans babies in Meru, Kenya is real. Ripples International Organization was birthed out of a divine call and response to save lives and restore hope and dignity to girls according to Christian teachings. We thank God for gracing us with hard working, dedicated and supportive staff and partners through whom the organization has grown constantly.
NEW BEGINNINGS WITH NEW START CENTER
A new life begins with New Start Baby Center. Every baby deserves a right to life – whether unwanted, born with HIV or born into poverty. New Start Baby Center was conceptualized to save and rehabilitate abandoned babies by giving them a home, education, shelter, healthcare and ultimately a new chance to life. New Start Baby Center is one of a few homes in Kenya that specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of abandoned babies below one year of age. The home caters for physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of the children. Since receiving its first grant in 2003, Ripples International has grown in leaps and bounds. It now attracts funding from both local and international donors. Presently, it is celebrated as one of the most vibrant programs in the region; addressing diverse needs of children and community empowerment with emphasis on child right promotion, child participation, care for orphans and vulnerable children, caregivers and the communities. In summary, Ripples International is an accountable, life transforming organization concerned with the welfare of children and development of communities with emphasis on empowering households and families to take full responsibility of their future.
We Are Ripples International
“As the rain and the snow came down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth.It will not return to me void but will accomplish what I desire and the purpose for which I sent it”.