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In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector who changed his ways after his encounter with Jesus. In Jesus’ time, tax collectors were looked down upon because they often collected a “commission” on top of the tax. Zacchaeus is described as a chief tax collector and a wealthy man, probably because he took more money than was required. Yet Zacchaeus demonstrated to Jesus that he was in search of salvation.

Zaccheus heard that Jesus would be passing through Jericho, and being of short stature, he climbed a tree to get a better glimpse of him. When Jesus saw him, he asked him to come down and requested to stay at his house. Zaccheus received him with joy and then promised to give half of everything he had to the poor and repay people four times what he had taken from them. In the hospitality Zacchaeus extended to Jesus and in his conversion of heart, the hated tax collector became worthy of salvation. Jesus came precisely to seek and save the lost like Zacchaeus. He gives us all the same opportunity for salvation.

Our work at CMMB brings us to some of the most under-resourced communities in developing nations. Unlike the tax collector, vulnerable children in these communities are innocent and free of sin, but many are lost in a difficult world where the basic necessities of life are severely lacking. Few can overcome the hurdles of poverty by themselves. The premise of CMMB’s Angel Investor Program is to give these children an opportunity for a better future.

Today we share the story of one of our “angels,” Alice Kyoli, a 14-year-old girl in eastern Kenya. She is an example of how a life can change because of opportunity, compassion, and love.

CMMB angel Alice in Kenya

When we first met Alice, she was was isolated and closed off because of her disability.

Alice lives with a rare condition that affects her ability to speak and walk. When we first met Alice in 2017, she was isolated and closed off. She could not carry out normal activities, such as bathing herself. She was afraid of her surroundings and shied away from partaking in social interactions. Rejected by society, she often looked down when people talked to her and could not communicate. Alice had never stepped into a classroom or made a school friend. No school would accept her with her disability.

But then things changed. One of our donors became Alice’s Angel Investor and is giving her the opportunity to attend a special school that embraces and supports children with disabilities. At the Kyatune Special Needs School, Alice is not the only one who is “differently-abled.” She has found a place where she doesn’t have to hide who she is. The school and its teachers are equipped and trained to work specifically with children who have different needs and who have not had the chance to start school at an early age. Madam Ann, the school’s principal, has been working with the disabled since 2003 and has a wealth of experience in understanding their special needs. She has become a mother figure for the children. Her goal is to help Alice and others like her become self-reliant.

“I have worked with children with disabilities in the past and have been able to make an impact in their lives. They are children just like any others. They only need to be encouraged. We need to treat them with patience, but a time will come when they will succeed.”Madame Ann, principal at Alice’s school 

CMMB angel alice with friends and teacher in Kenya

Alice (middle) with her teacher and school friends.

Since joining the school, Alice has made tremendous progress towards improving her social interactions and maintaining a daily routine. Her confidence has grown, and she has found inspiration from other girls in the school. She has slowly started learning to take care of herself and can now bathe herself and do laundry. She is also able to talk to others and can now tell a whole story.

“I am so happy to see Alice’s improvement over the past two years and I pray for more. This school has played a key role in strengthening the children and helping them get to know themselves.” —Florence, Alice’s caretaker

Today’s reading reminds us that everyone deserves a chance in life. Thanks to our Angel Investors, vulnerable children such as Alice can have that chance. Our Lord is always giving us chances to walk more intimately with him. May we answer his call today and every day.

In grace and peace,

CMMB/Healthier Lives Worldwide


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