Red handprints were lined up in a row on one of the pale yellow walls of the Emmanuel Children’s Home in Kayole, Nairobi. Under each palm print that boasted fingers extending to heaven, was written the name of a child and the year, 2006. Curious, I asked, “Why are these handprints here?”


I was told that the church orphan home doesn’t use growth measurement marks on walls or doorposts. Instead, they ask children to stretch up their arms and place their painted hands as high as they can on the wall.

I thought about this for a moment. As a fitting substitute for marking the measure of a child by the top of his or her head, the child’s height was calculated by how far they could reach and leave their own mark. How profound and poetic that is.

These orphans will reach beyond themselves, beyond the limits that the world places upon them.

Today, it is handprints on a wall. Tomorrow, it is communities transformed and legacies left for eternity.