Yesterday, as the sun was setting and I was shutting down my office computer, I heard Katherine tell her seven-year old daughter to come and say goodnight to me.

I nearly fell to my knees, it felt like such a victory. 

It’s hard to explain why this seemingly universal gesture - a mother telling her child to mind her manners - was so meaningful to me, as a father and in my capacity as head Social Worker here at Flying Kites. I’m not one to use the term “broken” when referring to people, especially an African woman, but I will say that when I first met Katherine, she was pretty far gone. She had not seen her children in a year and a half - five terrified kids who had been found by the police hungry and homeless (you can read more about the circumstances that caused her to be separated from them here).

But you, fierce friends from all corners of the globe, believed in her. You helped us provide her with counseling, a small apartment of her own, knives and forks, lightbulbs, and eventually, what she wanted most: the dignity of her first paycheck. Last week, we all filed back into a tiny court room to give her back custody of her children, now rooted and thriving in this critical connection. 

So, I just wanted to thank you.

Emotionally, Katherine has traveled the world over to arrive here. A woman who became a mother at just 12-years old, finally in a place where she can keep her kids safe; where she can ask them if they have homework, and remind them to wash their hands before dinner. I have never heard a sweeter sound than that of a little girl skipping down the hallway to wish me goodnight, before running to rejoin her mother.

Thank you for walking this difficult road with us. Today, let’s skip for a while.


Edwin Oketch

Social Worker // Flying Kites