Funds support orphans in Kenya

Shirley Banman and her daughter Cheryl Enns . (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)

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An encounter in an airport in India kicked off more than a decade of family, friendship and support, and a Winkler couple says God gets the credit.
Shirley Banman and her husband Abe hosted what they call a NON Garage Sale, May 16-17, to raise funds for children in Kenya who are forced to live life without parents.
Banman said it’s a “NON garage sale” because they had made the decision they couldn’t maintain the garage sale tradition. But thanks to loyal customers and donors, people keep coming. This year’s event included plants, baking, a silent auction featuring prizes and gift cards donated by local businesses and donuts, both free and available for purchase.
To follow where the money goes, one has to go back to that airport in India in 2008 where Shirley and Abe were with Children’s Camps International. Also with CCI was Thomson Ondimu from Kenya who is now Children’s Camps International Africa Director.
Shirley said he was telling Abe his story as they tried to escape the heat by sitting on the cool concrete floor.
“His story is a very sad story,” she said, explaining he was given up by a very young mother, had no father around and was working at the age of 8 to make and sell charcoal just to buy food.
“My husband put his arm around him and said, you can be part of our family,” she said.
Two weeks later, home from India, Abe and Shirley got a call from Thomson.
“He said, ‘did you mean what you said? I can be a part of your family?’… my husband said yes, you can be a part of our family.”
At that time Thomson had two boys. He now has four biological children and 42 children living with him and his wife.
It’s this group that the Banman’s continue to support with the help of the community.
“These are kids who’s parents have died,” Banman said.
Because of extreme poverty, orphaned children often have nowhere to go.
“It has grown over the years,” Banman said of their support.
Shirley said it’s clear that there’s someone else at work in this.
“I’ve been volunteering at teen challenge and just didn’t have time to do everything, but God sent six different people to us,” she said. “We’re so grateful to see how God continues to work in this. We know that He loves those kids. He loves them dearly.”
Through the organization Hope Without Limits, they have already built a school and dining hall.
“Our hope is someday that we can build an orphanage, if someone would come forward and help us do that,” she said. “Right now they’re living in a rented house… you can imagine, 46 people plus adults.”
Last year, thanks to supporters they managed to get bunk beds installed which brought them off the floor.
“Our hope is someday that we can still build an orphanage for them,” she said. “Abe and I can’t do it alone, so when the Lord brings people, we’ll do it.”
Banman said she sees God’s work in this. “Our last garage sale made $27,000,” she said. “You can’t do that. Two old people can’t have a garage sale for $27,000. God is in it.”
Banman said they feel blessed to be able to continue this, and are not stressing over long range plans. “As long as He gives us breath and energy to do it, we want to keep doing it,” she said. “They are our family.”
Ten per cent of this sale was directed to teen challenge.
Sponsors are still needed for about 10 kids.
“It’s about $600 to put a kid through school and also pay for their food and uniforms,” she said. “Lots of them want to go to college but we don’t feel like we’re at a place where we can do that. It’s only $2,000 per year, but it’s more than we can do right now.”
To sponsor or learn more, call Abe and Shirley Banman at 204-331-1332.

Thomson and Phyllis Ondimu stand with their family. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

Shirley Banman and her daughter Cheryl Enns show the home made donuts that were in great demand. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)