AKA: Preying Missionaries: Americans Accused of Defiling Orphans in Bomet
Year Released: 2019
Distributor: NTV Kenya (streaming on YouTube)
Running Time: 38 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 17+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Fall From Grace, Surviving R. Kelly, Leaving Neverland, The Central Park Five, At the End of Slavery, The Testimony
-Content Warning: Preying Missionaries is not for the faint of heart as the topics of child abuse and sexual abuse are discussed.
-Special thanks to The Advise Show for introducing me to this documentary.
-Bomet is a city that is the capital of the county in Kenya of the same name. The population is over 110K.
-Producer and lead reporter Edmond Nyabola also does public speaking. Nyabola has a Bachelor’s in Communication from the University of Nairobi.
-KWITU (Kenyan Women in The United States) has a petition going on Change that is raising awareness of the children affected by the Dows and calls to punish them.
We live in the #MeToo era whether you like it or not. It seems like there’s a story every week or so about someone getting caught up in sexual assault or harassment ever since that Harvey Weinstein story broke not too long ago. While putting sexual offenders to task is admirable, I noticed an obvious double standard as these stories have been coming out. Since the Bill Cosby trial happened, I didn’t see the same kind of fervor unless it involved R. Kelly or Chris Brown and the latter was found innocent as that model lied about being raped by that singer. Let’s be honest with ourselves here. So may of these #MeToo types and so-called feminists are soft or completely silent against female offenders of any ethnic group (see the silence from them after the Cardi B video was leaked about her admitting to drugging men and having them be in threesomes with transsexuals) and against White male predators even when there’s evidence against them. This isn’t bigotry. It’s pattern recognition. Name me one of those people in the #MeToo crowd that are actively saying that people such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bryan Singer, Louis C. K., Matt Lauer, Les Moonves, Roman Polanski, Bob Iger, or even Rob Lowe should be thrown under the jail. Exactly.
In this documentary that went viral on Kenyan TV, this deconstructs those arguments on a brutal level once this story broke out caused more outrage a certain animation studio copyrighting a phrase that’s common in this and other Swahili-speaking countries. We’re talking about something far more brutal than cultural appropriation not that it should’ve happened to begin with.
Preying Missionaries takes place in Bomet, Kenya. An American missionary couple from Lancaster, PA known as the Dows (Gregory Hayes and Mary Rose) leave the US and enter into this East African nation with the intent of opening an orphanage back in 2008. They had a walled compound with housing, a kitchen, a school, and a church all inside. They managed to have dozens of Kenyan and even African-American children living in the orphanage. Things looked alright and on the level on the surface, but for nine years, this supposedly heavenly establishment contained a hidden hell inside those walls. During this time, the orphans would be starved, beaten, and even raped by the Dows. The sexual assault victims were as young as ten and there were even dead children in the compound and one of the fatalities was as young as one and a half years old. Gregory and Mary Rose threatened the children and employees not to snitch lest they be punished, so they had to save the children in secret while they suffered in pure silence. The kicker about this situation is that Gregory was able to open an orphanage despite the fact that he’s a registered sex offender back in America who actually molested his own daughter from his first marriage. This was an expose as the survivors tell their stories and Edmond Nyabola investigates the matter by talking to the children, former employees, and any government agent who was in contact with the Dow’s satanic guise of a Christian charity.
I’ve heard horror stories about missionaries abusing those in Africa and Latin America before, but I had never seen a documentary that was an expose against those who have done unspeakable things against children. Watching this documentary filled me with so much righteous anger and immense sadness at the same time. I’ve reviewed films such as Grave of the Fireflies, Before Your Eyes, and even The Central Park Five, yet this is probably the saddest thing I have EVER watched since the inception of Iridium Eye which says a lot. Those stories from the children were so heartbreaking as they were taken advantage of by those pedophiles. The former workers and the families of those who lived and died under the Dow’s devilry were some of the most powerful testimonies that were all too damning about the situation at hand. With reporter/producer Edmond Nyabola…someone give this man a freaking promotion and a Pulitzer Prize award RIGHT NOW! He cuts through so many things with his words that would make the title character from Yugo the Negotiator stand in awe of his piercing questions to everyone. He has made some of the government officials squirm as he takes no crap from anyone. Since starting this blog, I have never seen anyone go this hard on government employees and politicians face-to-face since Jeremy Irons brutally grilled an Icelandic politician for being negligent in his duties in the documentary Trashed in one scene. You see, mainstream media…this is how you do investigative reporting. Watching this documentary alone shows how cowardly Western mainstream news outlets are when it comes to dealing with predators who look like them. They don’t just do everything in Kenya, the team even goes to America to the Dow’s home in Lancaster even when they get no response. The level of journalism is outstanding and I wished more would follow suit.
Preying Missionaries was a nice piece of counter-programming as much of an indictment of the #MeToo/#TimesUp movement as a whole whether it was intended or not. Ever since what happened to Bill Cosby, there has been propaganda going on to make Black men the face of sexual assault. This documentary will make those Gloria Allred types quiver with panic once they realize that the Dows have the wrong complexion and will be forced to explain this situation. Seriously, when was the last time some African missionary built an orphanage in America and Europe and got away with molesting children? I have another question. How many of those same missionaries from America would do the same thing in a European nation? Yeah, because poverty never happens in Europe or America outside of Black or Brown neighborhoods, right (yes, I’m being sarcastic here)? This documentary also brutally destroys the White Savior Complex so hard, not even Superman teaming up with Goku in his Super Saiyan God Mode would be able to make as much damage. It shows the Dows taking advantage of a “poorer nation” with no questions asked. They might have even paid some bribes to the government to pull something off in Kenya (I can’t prove it, but the fact a child molester was able to bypass background checks makes you wonder). I blame the officials who knew about this alongside the Dows and they should be thrown out of office. What infuriates me even more is that when Mary Rose was bonded out of Kenyan jail, she only had to pay 50k Kenyan Shillings. That may sound like a lot, but that equals $500 USD. Wow, there are people who’ve done less than her who had much higher bails and are still in jail right now. The Kenyan and American governments were way too soft on them. Keep in mind, R. Kelly is more known than the Dows and has more money, yet he was treated far worse than them. That contrast proves that while money can help, it’s not the be all end all to get out of prison. Trust me, you’ll be furious assuming you can stomach the whole documentary.
This Kenyan expose does have some issues. The biggest one for me was the massive aliasing with the camera work. I’m not sure if that issue was in the original televised broadcast, but it got distracting for a portion of this documentary. As I mentioned, Preying Missionaries is a VERY depressing watch, so don’t watch it if you’re feeling sad. If you or anyone else have been victims of child abuse, then several parts will trigger you, so you’ve been warned. While the run time was certainly fine for the time allotted, I thought they could’ve added a few more minutes to really destroy the Dows or possibly talk about the history of missionaries coming to Africa. There was a missed opportunity in correlating missionaries with colonialism which Kenya should definitely pay attention to since they used to be a British colony. They could’ve even talked to various Christians groups in and outside of the country to see how they would react to the rapes, abuses, and child murder assuming if said groups are too scared to talk and sadly try to “stay on code” which would be a damning indictment against them if you really think about it. While Edmond Nyabola is certainly an early contender for reporter of the year, I know he had a lot more in him to ask more tough questions to more people. To a much lesser issue, Nyabola mispronounced the name of Lancaster, PA (it’s LANK-es-ter, not Lan-CAST-er).
Preying Missionaries was a harsh documentary to watch, but it was one that I needed to watch the most. This provides so much rhetorical ammunition against the hypocrites who are selective when it comes to bashing some predators over others. The level of questioning slices better than Excalibur and Edmond Nyabola certainly comforts the afflicted while afflicting those comfortable throughout his narration and screen time. Preying Missionaries does have issues with the aliasing in the camera work and gets extremely morbid given the subject matter. However, not all documentaries are supposed to be neutral. The Dows needed to be exposed and I’m glad to know that their victims didn’t forgive them and want them to be punished at all costs. NTV Kenya, Edmond Nyabola, and everyone involved, thank you so much for this news special as you crafted a titanic movie that would be more than worthy of the #FirstThem hashtag. Preying Missionaries may be an Iridium Eye first in multiple ways, I don’t care about those things for this review. I want justice to be done for those innocent children who didn’t deserve any of this. Keep on fighting and stand strong no matter how many demons try to harm you.
Adjustable Rating System:
Subtract 1-3 points if sex crimes make you uncomfortable with documentaries.
-Intensely powerful testimonies
-Edmond Nyabola’s ingenious duties as a reporter
-An epic expose against the Dow family and certain Kenyan officials
-Some aspects should’ve been covered
-The no-holds-barred level of sadness can be too much
Final Score: 10/10 points
Content Warning: Preying Missionaries should be for older audiences only. There is a lot of discussion about sex crimes and child abuse going on. Gregory Dow molested his own daughter and raped multiple girls from age 10 to 15 years old when he owned the orphanage while his wife was an accomplice. The children have been beaten, starved, and were forced to live in hellish conditions. Three of the children died in their care including an infant which is very heartbreaking. One of the children was buried in the compound and one of the officials denied knowing about that fact. When the girls were sent to the clinic, they had birth control used on them without even knowing about it.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Preying Missionaries is property of NTV Kenya. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of NTV Kenya.