With disabled children being abandoned and left to be eaten by wild animals by their own parents in Kenya, a Christian ministry has taken them under its care and is stressing that everyone is God's children.
Margaret Njuguna of En-Gedi, a ministry partner of Set Free Ministries, told Mission Network News that children born with disabilities in the African country are often hidden away, or left to die by their own parents, and eaten by wild animals.
"I just went to the local government offices and I found that many people are reported for leaving their disabled children out to die and hiding them and denying them enough food," Njuguna said.
She said that she encountered a number of disabled children begging in the cities.
"God led me to children who didn't talk, who didn't walk. And most of them would die before anybody knows that there's a child like that," she said.
Njuguna previously explained that her work is "rescuing children who are abused, neglected, isolated, and some of these children would be left in the bush so that they either die of natural causes or they're eaten by wild animals. Others will be tethered behind their parents' houses. They don't allow them to be part of the family."
The missionary said that John 10:16 in the Bible inspires her to care for such children.
"As Christians, we are called to be shepherds in this world. Jesus has given us a responsibility to care for our own. And He has others who don't look like us, they will not be able to walk like us or to talk like us, they don't have the opportunities. Some have very twisted bodies. They all belong to Him," she added.
Njuguna and the En-Gedi have been caring, feeding and sheltering such children at their facility, helping them understand that they have value, and working to change the attitudes of parents who abandon them. Many parents fear disabled children might be bad omens.
"As much as they're not ready to take their children back, we have seen they are building love and that is a big goal that they will see it's God in the lives of these kids," she said of parents.
Njuguna admitted that despite positive developments in some cases, there is a long way to go before attitudes can really change in Kenya. She said that while it is hard to see the older generation change their beliefs, the hope lies in the younger generation, that they can be more accepting.
Kenya is a largely Christian country, though a quarter of the population adheres to various indigenous beliefs. In recent years, the country suffered terrorism attacks, including clashes between Christian and Muslim believers.
Reports in January said that several Christian students were knifed and beaten at a high school in Nairobi, after Muslim students attempted to force them to recite the Islamic creed for conversion and undergo Muslim cleansing rituals, sparking a mass fight.