Friday, May 1, 2015

Extending Love From Napavine to Kenya

My Guest on the Jeff Morton Report 5/3/2015

Gloria ‘Diane’ Calhoun Selling Possessions to Help Orphans in Africa
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Posted: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 11:14 am
A 3-year-old girl searches through mounds of pungent trash to find her mother a bite to eat. Her mother is dying of AIDS and the young girl is responsible for her care in a mud hut in the slums of Kenya.
Once the disease becomes too much to bear, her mother dies, adding another tally to the total of orphans affected by the epidemic running rampant through the poverty-stricken area. Her uncle comes to help, but instead throws her mother’s body onto the dirt near the garbage, burns everything in the house and leaves the little girl on the streets to fend for herself.
This is just one story of the 16 children one former Napavine resident has taken under her wing to provide a home for.
Gloria “Diane” Calhoun, 56, first traveled to Kenya in 2008 after she decided she wanted to do something meaningful with her life. She sold her house, quit her job, packed two suitcases and boarded a plane for a place she felt she was called to.
Calhoun runs New Territory Ministries, a place where she has provided a home to orphaned children, all who had parents who died from AIDS.
The start of her journey was rough.
She moved into a violent slum and was the only white person in the area. Her purpose was simple — to help as many children as she could by providing a loving home and a support system.
The journey has been plagued with challenges.
When she first moved to Kenya, she lived in a violent slum known as Kayole, outside of Nairobi. On the fifth floor and with no running water, Calhoun was responsible for lugging her water up the flights of stairs every week to provide for the children she took in. The corruption in the government made it difficult and her home was raided by heavily armed militants on numerous occasions, but none of that was enough to scare her away.
Calhoun knew the children needed her.
“When I first got there, we were working with the street kids,” she said.
Her days would begin at 3:30 a.m. She would catch a bus into town, then crawl under bridges looking for the children, who would often bury themselves under piles of garbage to keep warm at night.
Not only were the children trying to find warmth, but they were protecting themselves, especially the younger girls.
“Witch doctors are telling men who are HIV positive, who have AIDS, go out and have sex with a virgin. If you do, you’ll be cured; that demon will go on to them,” Calhoun explained. “The little girls have to protect themselves, so they bury themselves under the garbage.”
Calhoun spent many days and nights bringing the orphans food and providing them with medical attention while letting them know they were not alone.
Once she knew Kenya was the place she wanted to be, Calhoun opened up her home to the children.
In all, she has 15 girls and one boy. The stories that plague the children’s past are what she describes as horrendous. They often take an emotional toll on the adopted mother, but she said in the end, it’s always worth it.
“There just isn’t any way your heart can’t break with them when you see what people have done to these poor little girls, but no matter how tired I get, and no matter how much I cry, the reward is seeing that same little girl running around the playground because she just got an A on a report,” Calhoun explained with tears filling her eyes. “Or she slept all night long without crying in the night because of bad dreams. You go, ‘Wow, what I’m doing is so worth it.’”
Calhoun has now moved out of the slum and rents a fenced compound outside of town where the children have a safe place to stay.
Although she has funded her work through the sale of her house and through private donations, she recently returned to Napavine for the first time in four years to sell the rest of her belongings, which were housed in a storage unit. Her goal is to continue her operation for as long as possible, providing the children with the family support she believes they need in order to be successful.
Through an estate sale and a silent auction and dinner, she plans to raise enough money to buy some land.
She has her eyes on a 2-acre plot that costs $17,000. Although no structure is on the land, she said she would be able to save the money needed to build a house by not paying for rent.
The money raised through the event will also go toward providing the orphans with supplies, and would help Calhoun pay for their schooling.
“Our whole purpose of doing the fundraiser on Saturday, and the estate sale leading up to that, is we want to send her home some resources to help the girls,” Trina Gardipee, a supporter of Calhoun, said. “I love that it doesn’t go to a corporation. It goes directly to where it’s going to be used, and she knows their needs.”

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