HASTINGS-"I saw a lot of poverty because village people were coming to my Mom for help," said Ann Makena-Daggett, who was born and raised in Kenya and now lives in Hastings. The need in rural Kenya and its villages stayed with Makena-Daggett even after she moved to Minnesota. So in May 2018, doors opened at Loving Home in Nkubu, Kenya, an orphanage that Makena-Daggett worked to start.
Makena-Daggett works as a hospice chaplain, has published three books, and helped her son publish his own book. On top of all of this, she helped create City's Heart Cry Ministries in 2006 to raise funds to send three girls to high school. Makena-Daggett explained that in Kenya, parents have to pay to send their children to high school and many cannot afford the education. She recalled that when she was a child, she had friends who could not afford to continue their education. A few became pregnant as young teenagers. Others contracted HIV and died.
City's Heart Cry Ministries helped the three high school girls until their graduation, but then Makena-Daggett had to take a break from the organization. Her young son had a variety of health needs and Makena-Daggett had other personal things that she needed to focus on.
In 2014, however, City's Heart Cry began again and this time, the organization built a small orphanage for children.
It took about four years to register as a nonprofit, find a location for the home for children and then get it ready, but in May of 2018, the orphanage opened.
Loving Home currently has seven children, the most that it has room for, who range in age from 2 to 6 years old. The organization is also sponsoring four girls so that they can attend high school.
According to Makena-Daggett, many programs and orphanages in Kenya are designated to girls and women.
"There's a lot of oppression on women and girls in Kenya so very many organizations have (risen) up to the occasion and are helping girls," she explained.
However, Makena-Daggett emphasized that while she "advocate(s) for the girls because I know their situation" she wanted to create a home for both girls and boys.
"We've received a lot of begging to take in the boys that are abandoned because nobody wants to take the boys," explained Makena-Daggett. According to Makena-Daggett, her sister, who lives in Nkubu and helps run the orphanage, receives a request almost daily to take in or help a child, many of them male.
Neither Makena-Daggett or her sister receive pay for their work with the orphanage.
"The organization can't pay me, to be honest, they can't pay me enough. So, I choose to work. And, instead of getting a salary from the organization I would like that money to go and help another child, and another child," said Makena-Daggett.
City's Heart Cry would like to buy more land and build another house or building to house more children and to hire more "moms." Makena-Daggett and City's Heart Cry Organization are working to raise money to help more children. Their annual fundraising gala is scheduled for 6 p.m., Friday, April 3, at Light the Way Church in Cottage Grove.
Even if City's Heart Cry continues to grow, Makena-Daggett will not collect a salary for her work with the organization. She explained:
"I don't believe in (having) to be paid for everything I do. I don't believe in it because I believe blessings come in very many ways."
Donations can be sent to: City's Heart Cry Ministries, P.O. Box 711, Hastings, MN 55033.