Schipol Airport is a working model of a nice world. Clean lined furnishings, cordial Dutch efficiency, places to rest and work. Itâ€™s well-oiled and orderly. I was there, unexpectedly on my way back to Kenya a few days ago. There had been a robbery at the property. A group of thieves, middle of the night. Our security guard, Daniel, was surprised by them and knocked unconscious. They took what they could find. They robbed Naomi and Gilbert at their houses and then fled. The children were untouched; half slept through the ordeal. Gilbert, Naomi and Rose were struck, but are ok. Daniel was taken to Kenyatta Hospital where he died without regaining consciousness.
As I see these words appear on the laptop screen, I feel again what is now flooding over you. The disbelief turns to anger then rage, then a burning desire for reprisal, then focused resolution. So Iâ€™ll go on in full knowledge of the limitation of my words for both of us.
I was in San Diego and immediately called Jeff Greene, my good friend and founder of Ridgeback, the best security firm in Kenya. Within an hour a helicopter landed near the property with Jeff and two other Ridgeback personnel and tracking dogs. An hour and a half later, after a difficult track, and excellent response from local police, the area chief and CID, four people were in custody, where they remain. Another person was tracked through cell phone use in Machakos where he was arrested and is also in custody. These all too common invasion robberies often go unsolved. This one wonâ€™t.
Gilbert, Naomi and the house mothers were shaken and still are. They are regaining their footing. My immediate return was crucial for them and the children. The cavalry coming, in aÂ sense.
I met yesterday at the property with a representative of a security lighting company. Within a couple of days we will have a bank of twenty solar/battery-backed security lights in place throughout the property. We are installing button activated siren alarms in all of the houses. We are replacing or fortifying all of the external doors. We are installing computer recorded touch buttons in ten locations on the property to ensure that our guards are vigilant throughout the night. We will have two guards from Ridgeback, each teamed with one of the best, most highly skilled security dogs available anywhere. Saboboâ€™s pals. The dogs will be resting out of view during the day, and at work all night. We have several panic buttons throughout the property which signal a mobile instant response team of four guards. Our security before the robbery was, we thought, sufficient. It wasnâ€™t. It will be.
Kenyans, big ones and little ones, are resilient, tough, and sadly, well acquainted with hard reality. We havenâ€™t come here with our eyes closed. The robbery underscores the desperation and madness that exist here. The very things we have pledged to protect some of the most vulnerable children from, our children. And we will, now and for all the years to come, by Godâ€™s grace.
As Masa and I were driving on our murram road and through the oxide red gate I was shaken by the sadness and violation that had come here. What would I say to Gilbert, Mildred, Naomi? How could I fix this? I walked through the great room into the patio, and there they were, our eighteen kids, having lunch. I canâ€™t quite explain it, but I was somehow surprised to see them. They whooped it up and then sang a welcome song to me that Naomi had taught them.
I sat with a bowl of food. Out of the general uproar, one of the girls next to me looked up at me and said quietly, â€œThe thieves broke the door.â€ â€œI know, honey,â€ I said. â€œBut that will never, ever happen again.â€ â€œOk,â€ she said. I leaned my back against the patioâ€™s stone wall, ate a spoonful of the rice and green grams and looked at our kids and laughed and wept.