Susan Geary and her family kindly invited Chloe and Mama Chloe to stay with them, when Chloe came over to the UK for treatment back in 2018 – Susan shares their story with us…
At the beginning of February 2020, I spent a weekend in Nairobi during a work visit to Africa. I stayed with my very dear friend and her adopted daughter Chloe. In addition to a whistle stop tour of all the main tourist attractions, Mama Chloe and I visited New Life Home. It was wonderful to meet the dedicated staff who made such a difference to Chloe and who have touched so many other children’s lives.
Reconnecting with old friends
Guy and Susannah Bastable were old friends from City Church, Aberdeen (where I was a student in the 1990s). But we lost touch after I graduated and moved to London to join the diplomatic service. Two decades (a husband and three children) later I reconnected with them via Facebook in 2017 and found out what they’d been up to in Kenya – working with New Life Homes.
In March 2018, I saw an appeal “bright eyes for Chloe” from New Life pop up in my newsfeed. Then, two days later, also on Facebook, a heartfelt plea for help from a woman who lives only a few streets away from us in London who needed accommodation for a friend whose newly adopted, Kenyan, daughter had a rare eye cancer and needed to come to London for treatment. The baby in the photo looked familiar, so I asked her “Is the baby’s named Chloe?”. We were all rather astounded to discover it was! We knew immediately God’s hand was at work.
Ian (my husband) and I offered to host Mama Chloe and daughter for as long as necessary. We have always felt the God has called us to hospitality. Mama Chloe later told us that she’d been praying for accommodation with a family. Our church and local community rallied round offering wider support, baby equipment, clothing and toys. The original ask had been for a couple of weeks, but after Guy passed on a word to us about Obed-Edom, we prepared for several months! (Obed Edom hosted the Ark of the Covenant for 4 months).
Becoming part of the family
What followed was some of the most challenging, but ultimately rewarding, months for our family. Mother and daughter are truly part of our crazy, mad, family! We shared the heartbreak of watching Chloe suffer through six rounds of chemotherapy, and shared the worry when she refused to eat, or was admitted to hospital with a fever. But we also shared fun moments (like when all the children dressed up to support England in the World Cup). And we all rejoiced when Chloe bounced back and responded well to her treatment.
Opening our home to a family from a different culture has been incredibly enriching. I’ve been amazed by the resilience and maturity of our own young children, who can talk candidly and thoughtfully about their experience. Chloe is a cheerful bubbly little girl, it has been wonderful to see her form a strong bond with my own children.
Chloe’s resilience has been amazing, she has won the hearts of the Doctors and nurses at Great Ormond Street. She is not completely out of the woods yet, but she has been able to return to Nairobi to live, and just visits for a few days each month. At the time of writing, her cancer is held at bay and she is not receiving chemotherapy. COVID-19 has massively disrupted travel to and from Nairobi, so we are particularly thankful to God for this. We are certain that her life is fully in God’s hands and that he will heal her completely in due course!
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