Today Nicodemus, Nico for short, arrived for what is going to be a two month whirlwind of medical treatments and counseling from a brutal attack he fell victim to last year. Nico is our oldest New Hope Hero and our first high school graduate, earning his diploma this last December.
Nicodemus is bright, hardworking, caring and as the oldest of six orphaned youth he feels immense responsibility to take care of his five younger brothers. "I'm their only hope," was his comment to me shortly after landing in the States, "I am the bridge that is going to allow them to pass into success in life." At the age of 13, it was these siblings Nico was working so hard to take care of when, in 2009, our Kenyan staff members found him living on the streets and searching for food scraps in the local landfills and alleys of his town in Kenya. His mother had recently passed away leaving an eight month old behind. "I needed to feed my siblings so I would take the scraps of food from a local hotel [restaurant] that were scraped into a bucket under their sink. I did this again and again until I realized the dish washer was also spitting into that bucket."
In December of that year Nicodemus was rescued by New Hope Children and brought to our local safe house and his life changed. By January of 2010 Nicodemus started to receive a proper education, food, daily needs, medical support and counseling. The first out of all of our children at the New Hope Center to pass the difficult high school entrance exams, Nico has been the natural leader of the group. After excelling for four years at his all boys boarding school, which was two hours away from our Center, Nico was sure to pass the month long exit exam process to graduate high school. And then the unthinkable happened.
It was last July I received a chilling call from our executive director, Dickson. Nicodemus had been severely beaten by two inebriated teachers over a misunderstanding and mistake. They had taken a machete like object to his face, bar to his head and hit him repeatedly until they knocked him out. They made him sleep in a storage closet for the night and didn't contact our Center until the next day. The teachers have been prosecuted and jailed and an ongoing trial is pending in Kenya. With no access to proper medical treatment in their remote area, I witnessed the light and hope go out of Nico. He has four missing teeth, a concussion and facial scars, and our House Mother reported that he was having frequent night terrors. The outgoing, personable, leader of a boy I knew suddenly became quiet, with no joy in his eyes. To add to the pain, he was forced to go back to the school he was attacked at to take the month long exit exams in order to graduate.
After hearing his story, Face Forward, an organization based in Los Angeles, decided to give Nico back his smile and we could not be more grateful. Face Forward has put together a team of plastic surgeons, dentists and counselors to restore the lives of those who have survived brutal attacks like Nico. His new journey is just beginning.
Nicodemus has a notebook he carries around with him everywhere. When he showed me its contents my eyes filled with tears of joy and pride. Not only is his notebook filled with songs he's written, Nico has layed out a well detailed five to ten year plan of how he will work hard, having a business during the day and going to college at night, all with the goal of having a music recording studio someday so he can support his siblings. Last year during our visit we heard the children singing songs we had not heard before. It turned out they were all Nico's songs, and they were good! With no music education available in their area, we are shocked at the talent that pours out of our children and one day we hope to get to nurture their talents.
After two months in the States, Nicodemus will return home to Kenya with a restored smile, hope and vision for his future. We are so proud of him for his ability to overcome the obstacles in his life and our prayer for him is that his dreams of having a recording studio come true. In order to rescue more children from the streets our Hero's age-out after they finish high school. That said, we don't believe in just dropping our children and will do what we can to help them see their journey and dreams through. For Nico, that means spreading the word in effort of finding support for his college education and business plans. If you're interested in helping Nicodemus in any way please email me anytime. Thank you.
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