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12 September 2010 – The Hard News

Schipol Airport is a working model of a nice world. Clean lined furnishings, cordial Dutch efficiency, places to rest and work. It’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 I’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 won’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 a  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. Sabobo’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 wasn’t. It will be.

Kenyans, big ones and little ones, are resilient, tough, and sadly, well acquainted with hard reality. We haven’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 God’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 can’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, “The thieves broke the door.” “I know, honey,” I said. “But that will never, ever happen again.” “Ok,” she said. I leaned my back against the patio’s stone wall, ate a spoonful of the rice and green grams and looked at our kids and laughed and wept.


  1. Debi says

    This reality in Kenya is so hard to bear, especially for those of us in the west who are —in contrast—relatively safe. My prayer is that the resilience of the beautiful children will help everyone affected heal the fear and anger and be once again filled with love and hope. All very difficult but so necessary. Prayers of comfort for Daniel’s family, and healing prayers for Gilbert, Mildred and Naomi.

    Continued love and prayers of gratitude.

  2. Pat Gustorf says

    Dave and all – as I read this I feel so sick and so sad. What a resilient group you have! Thank you for telling the story with such warmth and “positiveness”. From afar, be assured of many prayers and much love.
    Pat Gustorf

  3. Donn Geisert says


    I am deeply disturbed and saddened to read this news. I am sure your presence is a very calming influence for all. My deepest condolences to Daniel’s family and all of his friends and acquaintances. May he rest in peace!

    I will keep all of you in thought and prayer.

    Donn Geisert

  4. Pam Burns says

    Dave and all- I have no words other than our prayers go up for you. His hedge of protection around you all. Hang in there my friend.

    With love,
    Pam and Family

  5. Charbel says

    I pray for the suffering you’re all going through at this time. What a wonderful opportunity for God’s graces to come to light through the immediate attention and action taken by everyone involved.

    In honor and memory of Daniel and the future of the house:
    Romans 5:1-11
    Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And web rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but wec also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

    6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

  6. Miss B says

    Hi D – Miss B here…

    I didn’t know you went back. I’m rooting for you and the rest of the Red Rhino crew. Give the lil’ ones my hugs and tell Gilbert, his family, and Naiomi hello for me. 🙂

    You are one strong man bossman and the center will continue to thrive because of your strength. After hearing the good news regarding the capture of the thugs, I found some hope for the future of Kenya. It possibly is the onset of something positive, a change from previous years in which criminals were free to roam the streets. It makes me grateful for the power of communities. I will keep faith for the center and for Kenya. Many thanks to Jeff and the others who helped find the thugs.

    Much love to you and as always, I’m here to help if you need me.

  7. Chris L says

    Dear brother,

    Long ago you already gave the only guarantee that really matters: your presence and your love.

    Love to all of you—especially for Daniel and his family.


  8. Denise, Ron, Ross & Anthony says

    Thank you for the update and your diligence in taking care of this horrible situation. We send our love to Naiomi, Mildred, Gilbert and all of those beautiful kids that we met this summer! Thank you for all that you do! With tears in our eyes we send you many prayers and our committed support!
    Love The Guntert Family

  9. Rima says

    Dear David,
    God help you in these hard days. I will keep everyone in my thoughts and prayers especially Daniel and his family.

  10. Joe Latino says

    David, I’m so sorry to hear about the attack perpetrated on you, your staff, and the children!! It was dastardly and inhuman!! It sounds like you are taking all possible precautions to insure the safety of everyone there!!!! I hope that you are all wrapped in healing warmth to help you through the pain!!!! Love, Joe

  11. David says

    I just read your account of the horrible act taken place at the orphanage. Your description makes it so real to the reader. Thankfully the children do not seem too affected by this, hopefully they slept through the horror. Your actions and presence must be a comfort to all. My prayers are for Daniel, the children and all involved in the project. Love ~ Julia & Mike Scriven, Allison, Mike, Sabrina and their families also!

  12. Jim Micheletti & Notre Dame High School says

    Love and ceaseless prayer your way–for David and for the kids, and especially for Daniel and family.

  13. Joan Bosworth says

    Dear David and Red Rhino Family,
    I don’t have the words to express my sadness over this horrific event.

    I just reviewed the pictures of the beautiful children again and I feel a sense of hope. We’ll all cling to that.

    With great respect,

    Joan Bosworth

  14. Debi says

    How do we not let the harshness of the world harden us? So difficult and so much suffering. Thank God for the laughter of the children and the resilience of their spirit. They will help you continue on the road to providing a loving home for them.

    Many prayers and deep gratitude to you, David, and all who have helped to make this dream possible.

    Prayers of comfort for Daniel’s family and prayers of healing for everyone hurt by this aggression. Keep your eyes on the children and your hearts will find strength.

    Much love,

  15. Martin says

    I’m so sorry for Daniel and his family. I met him only briefly but he seemed like a good soul.

    Tell Jeff the next time I see him, I’ll have a bottle of Lagavulin with his name on it. No small feat, what he and his guys did.

    We all know there are plenty of bad guys there — it comes with the territory. But the circle of good guys you’ve made is strong, poised, and formidable itself. Now that message has been sent with unassailable clarity.

    My love to all. Difficult to be so far away through all this.


  16. Debi Lorenc says

    So difficult and so sad. how do we not let the harshness of the world harden our hearts? My prayer is the that the laughter and purity of the kids will revitalize our spirits.

    Many prayers of comfort to Daniel’s family and those affected by this senseless aggression. And many prayers of gratitude to you, David and everyone who have put so much work and love into this project.

    We rejoice that the children have a loving place to live and be loved.

    Much love,

  17. david says

    Dear Pat, Donn, Pam, Charbel, Miss B,CL, Denise Ron Ross And Anthony, Rima, Cousin Joe, Julia Mike and all the Scrivens, Jim and all at Notre Dame, Joan, Martin and Debi,

    All of us here are thankful for your expressed love, concern, sorrow and solidarity. It’s been a really difficult time. The deep shock and trauma so many experienced, the big questions, the need to push on and through. We live on the foundation of our faith and trust in God. In some ways that is easier here because the tenuous nature of so many things is right before us. Your prayers are the unseen reinforcement of everything here.

    We’re with you, too. Thinking of you, being comforted by you, missing you, feeling your presence here with us. We’ll all move on together for the only thing that makes any sense of this, the kids. And that’s plenty.

    With all our love,

    David, Naomi, Gilbert, Mildred, Tony, Rose, Christine, Ann, Herenia, Benson, Samuel, Nicholas, and our kids.

  18. Bob says

    Greetings, my good brother David…It seems this tragedy was probably unavoidable at this time, however, it has been your work building the solid relationships in the community that spurred the immediate, willing & thunderous response from all who could get the job done. This would never have happened in the reaches of Kenya without your influence. It likely would have fallen among the many, many unsolved & uncared about cases you mentioned above. So, it’s fair to say that your spirit was protecting your charges while you were many thousands of miles away. This is not lost upon your people there & demonstrates that the depth & breadth of your efforts extends beyond the charitable work for the kids & has knitted itself integrally & positively into the fabric of the community. Be proud of this & keep on doing the do…Love…Bob

  19. Mike Edson says

    David, I will chime in with your brother Bob and agee that your leadership has been critical to this project and it being knit into the community. I’m heartbroken about the break in, the violence, the loss of Daniel, and for those hurt and frightened. I’m glad your friends at Ridgeback helped bring those responsible to the authorities. The community of the caring not there in Kenya pray, love, and support all of you. Revealed and hidden are God’s workings in all of this. The mystery is too deep for me, but still we trust Him and should. My love to you David and all those you love there too.

  20. Gary P. says

    Well Dave, once again your gift of prose brought me right there with you.
    Virginia and I will pray for the family and we all know that good,
    through God’s grace, will always conquer evil. Love

  21. Jeanette Marquez says

    My heart goes out to all whose labor of love sustains the children and the RROP. Your resolve has been tested in many ways. This most recent event may not have been a test, but most certainly if it were then all passed.
    As a read through the many accounts of the development of RROP I reaffirm that both children and caretakers are gifts, for each needs the other, each grows because of the need and love of the other. There is no doubt that yours is not a mere property but a home and each time you share a smile you embrace family. God Bless.

  22. Connie Rishwain says

    Congratulations to all who had a part in this coming together. The pictures say it all!!

    Connie Rishwain

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