In 2016 Margaret Njuguna was awarded the prestigious “Distinguished Alumni Award” for her accomplishments in founding En-gedi Home for Disabled Children on the outskirts of Nairobi Kenya. En-gedi Children’s Home, now four years old, is a place for children with severe disabilities. “These are children that a lot of people don’t like, including their own parents,”Ms. Njuguna said. “We run a rescue ministry to help children escape from confinement and neglect and to save children who have been left in the jungle to be eaten by hyenas. It is a call God gave me.”
Under her wings, these children have freedom, love and care. After Ms. Margaret Njuguna spent the previous 27 years in the employ of World Renew, the global relief ministry of the Christian Reformed Church. She had the desire to do something more. Thus began the inspiration of En-gedi. Njuguna was trained as a finance and administrative manager—doing office work—in World Renew’s Kenya and Uganda offices. She wanted to do something more.“I learned that all people, regardless of their backgrounds, are made by God,” she said. “Every human being is made in the image of Christ.”
After graduation, Njuguna went back to Africa for World Renew, this time in Tanzania, to continue developing communities. In time, however, the call to advocate for the disabled led her to a new ministry. “I wanted to find out why people would hide children with disabilities, why they would want to sacrifice them, why they would want to neglect such children to death,” she said. In Kenyan culture, many people believe that having a child with disabilities is a curse or related to witchcraft—the children have been bewitched. It is her challenge to diminish the hold that superstition has on families who have disabled children, to see the image of God in them rather than an evil spirit. “It is a dark world,” she said. “When I got started I told God that I want to be a channel through which he can shine his light into the world of darkness.” This is difficult work—both the daily caring for special-needs children and the quest to alter long-held beliefs and perceptions. Njuguna thinks the light is starting to penetrate. “Slowly, slowly parents who did not want to even look at their children who are disabled, are now visiting and they can even hold their children,” she said. En-Gedi is not an adoption agency. Every child Njuguna takes in will either be cared for indefinitely or—her great hope—parents and relatives will eventually want to take their children back after accepting them and after they have learned how to care for them well.
She knows this is a project for the long haul. Njuguna believes it will take generations to fully overcome current prejudices. But she is preparing for that future, expanding her own facility to take more children and creating the climate for other homes across Kenya to be established.