People of Eastern: Get to know Derek Hamer, a junior with a compelling story.

The riveting reasons behind each college student’s choice of study involves countless passions, stories and yearnings. Derek Hamer, a junior at Eastern University, exemplifies the beauty of integrating passions and personal stories into a choice of study. As a Social Work major, Hamer has experience in giving and receiving compassion, love, and grace throughout his life. “I think because of everything I had gone through, I had this compassion for people so I want to go help people,” Hamer explained.

Born in Kenya, Hamer’s birth mother gave birth to him at the age of fourteen, and his brother at sixteen. His birth mother struggled with alcoholism, so she would leave Hamer and his brother without adequate care. This caused Hamer and his brother to begin living with their grandmother. Even still, “Life at home was rough and I don’t think I was getting the needs I wanted, or even deserved, so I decided that I wanted to go and see what else is out there,” Hamer shared.

At four-and-a-half years old, Hamer lived on the streets which “was rough, it was not fun and there’s nothing essentially good about it,” Hamer detailed. Occasionally, he would travel back to his grandmother’s village, staying at her house briefly before returning to the streets.

“I remember this one day I was walking and I had this sense and feeling from God saying, ‘You need to go to this church.’ And I mean I was five, I had no idea who God was,” Hamer described. Upon entering this church, Hamer met missionaries from America who were giving food, clothing, and baths to other homeless children. When it was Hamer’s turn to bathe, they had run out of towels to dry him. “So my Mom, who didn’t know she would be my Mom at the time, she holds me and dries me off with her shirt,” Hamer detailed.

After seeing how young Hamer was, they tried finding an orphanage for Hamer; however, the orphanages refused to accept children of his young age. They brought Hamer into where they were residing, “I remember walking in and looking around and I crawl under the table and I sit on my Dad’s lap. I didn’t know that this would be my Dad, he didn’t know this was his son,” Hamer shared.

Taking another turn, Hamer’s present-day Mom recalls feeling God tell her that she needed to adopt Hamer. Immediately after, her biological sons simultaneously approached her, persisting that God told them about adopting Hamer. However, before arriving in Kenya, their dad had reinforced that they would not adopt any children. “But then [Dad] walks out and literally looks at them and says, ‘Guys, I just had this feeling that we need to adopt this kid,’” Hamer revealed.

Unaware of what was happening, Hamer’s now-sister, called them from America and shared not only that she had a dream that her family would adopt a brother, but also that his name would be Derek. Upon discovering that this family wanted to adopt him, Hamer told them about his younger brother. Hamer led them to his grandmother’s house, in which they met his younger brother and asked his grandmother if they could adopt
her grandchildren. “My grandmother looked at them and said, ‘I prayed every single day that an angel would come and take these boys,’” Hamer shared.

Within six weeks, Hamer and his brother were adopted and brought to America. Nowadays, Kenya only permits adoptions within the country; in other words, Hamer’s family would not have been able to adopt him in the present-day. “The way God orchestrated that was amazing and so that’s just a little bit of my story. I mean I strongly believe that God gives everyone a story for a reason. My story is the way it is for a reason, He wants us to be able to use our stories,” Hamer shared.

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