But her plans shifted when she went on a three-month trip to the United States in 2010, speaking on behalf of Compassion about her experiences growing up in poverty and being released from it. During her trip, she had a dream.
“In the dream, I felt God was calling me to serve, but I did not know how,” she says.
She shared her dream with her friend Kristen, a popular writer from Texas who had met Maureen on a recent blogging trip to Kenya. The women prayed together and trusted God to show Maureen what her next steps would be.
Weeks after Maureen returned home, Kristen reached out to her to tell her about a troubling TV news story she’d seen about Kenya’s backstreet abortions. She learned about young girls being sold into sex work by their desperate parents. Forced into such a life, many girls experience unwanted pregnancies and then die from illegal, botched abortion attempts.
Maureen confirmed what Kristen had seen in the news story; she had seen the horrors firsthand. She had several friends who were sexually assaulted as children. “I have a very close friend who, while in elementary school, aborted six times,” Maureen remembers.
Since both friends felt desperate to do something about the problem — and since Maureen was feeling called into service — they started shaping a plan for serving girls facing crisis pregnancies. Together, Kristen and Maureen decided to start a foundation and home in Nairobi for pregnant girls. Maureen would serve as director, and Kristen would raise funds through her blog.
In March 2011, Maureen opened Rehema House, “a Christian nonprofit organization, which rescues young, poor, pregnant girls from the streets and slums of Kenya,” Maureen says. “Rehema” means “mercy” in Swahili.
The Power of Mercy
The home shows mercy to girls experiencing critical situations. Many have been sexually assaulted, beaten or otherwise abused. Maureen is able to connect with them because she grew up in conditions similar to theirs.
“Growing up in the slum is one of the worst experiences in the whole world,” Maureen says. “But I thank God that I passed through it so that when I speak and touch the lives of the teenage mothers and babies, I am doing it out of experience.”