Our team of volunteers travelled on the 9th February to our Girls Rescue Centre in Kibiko Kenya. We were joined there by Bev from Australia, Tony from Canada, Bill from England and Monica and Aisling from America. Our network is increasing! We had decided this year that we would travel in February as opposed to our usual time of June. The weather is much better in February and makes working much easier and everything much more accessible when the roads have not turned to mud in the rain. Unfortunately this meant that we lost some of our regular volunteers as there was less time to fundraise. We missed them and hope that they will be with us again in the future.
For this years project we had decided to:-
1. Set up a chicken project on site at the Centre. This should help them to become more self sufficient by allowing them to generate an income which can then be used to run the Centre. We are very aware that we cannot continue to keep asking the same people in Ireland for help and sponsorship and our aim is to continue to set up new projects that will eventually lead to the Centre being able to generate enough income to cover all its running costs. This will take time but we have the right people on board in Kenya who are very capable and who we know will work with us in making this happen. The building for the chickens was complete when we left and we hope to have approx 1000 chicken in the next few weeks.
2. We had a large room where the kids could play but it was just a bare room. We decided that we would repaint and decorate this room for the smaller kids and also do up another smaller room for the teenagers, where they could do their homework in peace and read their books or listen to music. This was a wonderful success. The difference in the rooms was unbelievable. Our volunteers were very creative and talented and everyone chipped in from their own money to buy tables, chairs etc that made the rooms really colourful and child friendly. Lovely murals were painted on the walls and the place just looked fantastic. It was so good to be able to give these wonderful kids, who have been through so much in their short lives, a little more than just the basic bare rooms.
3. The Masai girls training programme which takes place in the Centre and is supported by Huruma Charity has been teaching young local Masai girls sewing, crafts, cooking and knitting for the last few months. This programme caters for young girls who did not have the opportunity to complete their education to gain new skills to help them to get work or set up their own small home industry. This year we were very lucky to have a chef with us who undertook to work with these girls and show them new skills and ways of baking that they never would have seen before. Louise brought her own equipment with her and baked scones, shortbread, chocolate biscuit cake with the girls. No mean feat when the oven is a wood burning one and is out in the garden with no way of controlling the temperature! God Bless your patience Louise. She also showed the girls how to make different icings etc.
4. This year we decided that an important part of our trip would be for the volunteers to spend quality time with the children. On previous projects we had such a busy agenda that we barely got to know the kids. This time our time with the kids was amazing. The volunteers played with them, sat with them and listened, made jigsaws, read to them, blew up balloons etc – things we take for granted but which meant so much to these kids. We took some of the older ones to have their hair done in a beauticians and to a market to buy themselves some small items of clothes. This was a huge treat for these kids and very enjoyable for the volunteers who went with them. I think the ladies in the beauticians knew they were on to a good thing when they saw all the white women appearing and made the most of it. Everyone came out with beautiful nails and hairdos!! This was time very well spent. These kids will never forget that trip to town. Thank you ladies – it was a great idea!
5. Before leaving Ireland we got a generous donation from someone who wanted it to be used to treat the children. We decided that we would take them away for three days to the beach. These children (and some of the adults) had never seen the sea or been to the beach before so it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for them. The excitement cannot be described in words and the crazy moment when they saw the sea and started running (downhill) towards it is something us volunteers will never forget. All the kids assumed they could just swim but this was sorted with armbands which had kindly been donated to us before we left. The only snag was that the journey to the sea was 10 hours by bus…. on crazy roads… full of crazy lorry drivers….in crazy heat…..but we had two wonderful safe bus drivers and 40 very well behaved kids so we made it. One bus had 16 teenagers with great lungs who sang for most of the journey…. Rhiannas song Diamonds will forever be associated with our trip to Mombasa in my mind and will always make me smile. This may be the only time these kids will ever get a holiday so though tough as times it was definitely worth it and the wonderful memories will never be forgotten.
6. We wanted to be able to leave enough food for the Centre for the next few month and we were able to shelve out a room to use as a store and fill it with food that will see them through the next few months. Again we received a very generous donation which allowed us to buy the food.
So while this years project was not all about building huge buildings it was just as worthwhile. We achieved what we had planned and I have no doubt in my mind that the time spent with the children is every bit as valuable in helping them. They know they are accepted and loved by Edwina and her staff but we as volunteers had more time to spend with them and do small things that mean so much to them.
I hope that the photos will help everyone understand what i have tried to convey. Once again I have to thank all our volunteers and everyone who helped them to fundraise, everyone who gave us donations, KFM and Clem Ryan who interviewed Paddy before our trip and who is always so helpful and genuinely interested when talking about Cara Projects and of course Paddy O’Connor who’s dream it was to change just a small part of the world…. he has certainly done that for hundreds of children over the past five years.