By Essie Wambui >>>>>
She may be a little young to understand the magnitude of what is happening, but Fidelis Muthoni must in some way perceive the good surrounding her. By her disposition, it was easy to see that she felt the love of the community that came together to pray and dedicate her to God as she awaits her yet-to-be scheduled surgery.
Fidelis sat on her mother’s lap, mostly smiling, at times silent, then momentarily standing and chattering away. Occasionally she glanced back, waving at no one in particular, yet appearing to collectively acknowledge the tens of faces gathered at the Consolata Mission Centre in Toronto, Ontario.
One might have expected a smaller crowd, seeing it was Saturday of the Labour Day weekend, but Kenyans in Ontario and other supporters turned up in droves. She has enamoured many.
They came to encourage Fidelis, her mother, and the rest of their family in Kenya. They also wanted to express appreciation for every person and institution that has become a part of Fidelis’ journey – Kenyans around the world, President Kenyatta, The Herbie Fund and Hospital for Sick Kids among other well-wishers. The congregation especially thanked Mr. & Mrs. Maina for hosting Martha and Fidelis for the duration of their stay in Canada.
Fidelis is the 17 months old little girl whose story came to light after money raised for her travel to Canada for treatment was allegedly embezzled by a man trusted by the family with fundraising for the cause. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta intervened and paid for the air tickets for mother and child to travel to Toronto before the appointment was called off.
In the short period since her name and face were plastered on various media within Kenya and across the Kenyan Diaspora, Baby Fidelis, as she’s fondly referred to, has come to represent the extent of the need affecting thousands of children in similar situation in Kenya. Unwittingly, she has also simultaneously become synonymous with hope under dire circumstances while laying bare human weakness; particularly in some people’s propensity to exploit others during their weakest moment.
The outcome of her story could have been different, as a chance at treatment was almost snatched away. Instead, Fidelis has become a symbol of the kindness that is possible when people choose to do what is right. It’s no wonder then that a prayer service in her honour would turn out to be a lesson in loving others and demonstrating it through goodwill.
Baby Fidelis arrived in Canada two weeks ago and is currently undergoing tests in preparation for surgery at the Hospital for Sick Kids, courtesy of the Herbie Fund.
This is why it was important for the deeply religious Kenyan community to gather and thank God for what He has already done for Fidelis, while committing her into His care and protection during the surgery and throughout the healing process.
With song, prayer, praise, worship and words of encouragement from choirs, community members, leaders and clergy, this meeting was an expression of a community’s love not unlike others before.
A representation from the Kenya High Commission to Canada and Cuba was also present, expressing solidarity and thanking everyone who had accorded support to Fidelis and her family.
Goodwill towards Fidelis has been supranational, extending beyond the boundaries of her home in the highlands of central Kenya. Like majority of those present, Hannah Waithaka, first heard the story of Fidelis through media reports. Something about the little girl and the family’s need gripped her.
Waithaka, a native of Kenya living in Seattle, Washington, decided then to garner support from her friends and community in the USA. She set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for Fidelis. When they learnt that there would be a prayer gathering, Waithaka & her family decided to travel to Toronto (at own expense) to personally deliver the funds raised.
“I wanted to be part of the prayer service for the girl whose story so touched and compelled me to act,” Said Waithaka. “I urge each one of you not to let others’ evil discourage you from doing charitable deeds since our purpose is to glorify God.” She said while addressing the crowd.
The officiating pastor, Jairo Essendi preached a message themed on goodwill, challenging people to respond to conditions of suffering in others as God would respond to them – with goodwill. “Responding with goodness means we are doing God’s will.” He said quoting scripture.
The Pastor challenged people to aid, not hinder those in need. He noted that all people are flawed and each one suffers in some way or other. “Some suffer internally, others physically, and yet others are economically sick.”
“Be kind, a supporter of those suffering, and a comforter to the poor, not for the acknowledgement of men but unto the glory of God.” Jairo entreated.
Introducing Martha and Fidelis to the congregation, Irene, the host, implored those present to continue supporting Fidelis’ through her treatment journey, which she noted would be extensive.
On her part, Martha Wambui thanked everyone for their dedication and support for her baby daughter Fidelis and their entire family. “This is beyond anything I could ever imagine and we owe our presence here to God and the kindness of all of you and many others out there. Thank you all.” She said in her native Kikuyu language.
NOTE: Fidelis’ treatment is provided courtesy of the Herbie Fund. Owing to the sensitive nature of this case and due to the very stringent Privacy Laws of Canada and the Province of Ontario, I am compelled to stay clear of any medical aspects related to the story of Fidelis.
By Esther “Essie” Wambui