Kenya – April 2010

Hi, thought I’d post a wee update to let you know how I got on in Kenya last week.

Well the saying “man plans, god laughs” comes to mind! Given the disruption with the flights I was just so happy to land in Nairobi on the Saturday morning as planned. The objective of the trip was first and foremost to deliver the underwear, but I also had another objective which was to help my American friend who is involved with St Monica’s orphanage. She was moving 34 girls aged between 7 and 17 to their new premises. These girls were under the guardianship of a priest, but were transferring to a local NGO (Sisters Arise) on Saturday 1st May. So on Saturday 24th April I was pretty confident that I would be able to distribute the underwear AND get the home ready for the girls. There was NOTHING in the new home, no cutlery, beds, cooking utensils, fridge, food etc. Oh and we had to do their requirement shopping for going back to school, the supplies we bought in January ie 10 rolls of toilet paper, deodorant, pencils etc needed to be restocked.

On the Monday when we visited the girls, they were really happy to see us and were looking forward to moving. However, at this point the plan changed as the priest wanted the girls moved the following day! It was a bit of a panic to get all the shopping done and organise transport to move them, and get their requirement shopping done as they go back to school today (3rd May). Shopping for mzungu (white people) is not easy in Kenya. We need to have transport and a driver and organising this is not always easy. However we managed and the girls are now settled in their new home and loving it. The added bonus for me was to see their delight as I gave them 7 pairs of pants each – the smiles in the photos say it all!

I also visited another orphanage, Open Hands Children Home. The ages of the children ranged from 1 month to 16. These children have all been abandoned and when found are taken to Open Hands. The 1 month baby had been left outside a hospital and one wee girl who was now 6, had been left in a carrier bag at the side of the road when she was a couple of days old. I had tried to take a good mix of sizes and whilst I managed to give most of the children 4 pairs each, there were 5 older girls that I didn’t have any for. I felt really sorry for them and promised that I would take them some on my next trip.

As well as giving to the children of St Monica’s, I also gave to children in the Githogoro and Huruma slums. I wasn’t allowed to go into the slums but Sisters Arise have a project whereby they work with grandmothers who have been left to raise their grandchildren as the parents have died. They organised a meeting in a church, well it was a tent as the church is being built. It was a great afternoon as not only did I give out underwear, but my friend Lyn Wright had given me £50 to spend. I bought supplies for 15 families, each child got a toothbrush and toothpaste and I bought washing soap, maize flour, cooking fat and vaseline. These grandmothers make baskets and coasters to sell to make money.

Whilst I will carry on with the underwear project for as long as there is a need, and for as long as I get the support from donations, I’m really keen to support the “Dignity Restored” initiative in Zimbabwe to support the education of young people in the dangers of HIV/Aids and where possible try to prevent young girls getting infections and falling pregnant.

Also from my time in the IDP camps, it is a case of, every little helps and there’s a lot needs done there too. However I feel strongly that there is something to be said for supporting the many people that want to be self sufficient and restore their own dignity. These people need more of a “hand up, not a hand out”. For example, the grandmothers that I met are trying to be self sufficient, whilst struggling to look after children and make ends meet. They need practical support to help them do this. I have therefore come back with a few ideas of how I could help but will spend some time researching the options before I share my plans with everyone!.

Overall the trip was really successful as hopefully the pictures will show. I never once asked a child to smile, what you see is just their genuine happiness at some crazy mzungu handing out knickers!

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