Kenyan orphan crisis hits home for GCU alumna
Editor’s note: Reprinted from the November issue of GCU Magazine. To read the digital version of the magazine, click here.
By Ryan Kryska
Allison Fassinger had a vision in her mind entering college. She saw herself as a nurse, helping children, and she’s doing exactly that.
What she didn’t see is that she’d be doing so in Kenya.
Fassinger made her first trip to the African country in the summer of 2015, just before she graduated. She served for seven weeks at CURE International Hospital in Kajai, Kenya, with a team of GCU students.
“It was incredible,” Fassinger said. “That was my first time out of the country. I totally fell in love with the culture.”
While abroad, Fassinger met a couple from Texas who had been working to combat the orphan crisis in Kenya since 2005. Bob and Julie Mendonsa started Naomi’s Village on a 5-acre plot and have been growing the village’s reach ever since. It started as a children’s home and has grown into a school and a place for volunteers.
Fassinger visited Kenya three more times, spending more than a year there. On her latest trip, she had a eureka moment — the village would become her new home.
“I was sitting in a meeting with a group of Kenyans, and we were just reflecting back on the last seven years that the children’s home has been open,” she said. “We started talking about one of our little girls, Mercy, who had been abandoned. Taking a look at her now, she is a thriving first-grader. Seeing the change in her life really hit me hard. I realized in that moment that God wanted me to be a part of it.”
Fassinger, from Chandler, Ariz., said she has struggled with the idea of leaving her family and the ease of American life, but she realized she has gained another family: the people of Kenya and the staff at Naomi’s Village.
“Seeing all of the redemption and restoration in the lives of the kids was really impactful in my faith journey,” she said. “I’m really excited for the opportunity to return and just walk with God by my side as I get to love on these kids. I’m very hopeful that this will be a long-term commitment for me.”