On 28th October I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Kenya again to visit our Girls Rescue Centre and see how things were progressing since we left in June. We have left with great hope and expectations but with no children in yet. Words cannot describe now fantastic it was to go back, see that everything was not just as good as we had left it but better! The garden full of the vegetables that had been kindly donated by Johnstown Garden Centre, the rooms all bright, clean and shiny, the office all set up to welcome visitors and new arrivals, a cow in calf and best of all ten children living there. Ten smiling happy children who were delighted to see us – all with their own stories of sadness and pain that no child should even know about – but still happy smiling kids. This is great testimony to Edwina who runs the centre and who has so obviously made these children feel welcome and cared for.
While we were there Paddy and I went to the Children’s Office to collect another little girl. Heartbreaking.. a small girl with a shaven head in a pink hoodie with terror in her eyes standing in the corner whilst the adults around her told us her story and discussed her case. Two white people no doubt added to her terror. This little girl, who will always have a special place in my heart now, is Faith aged 8. She was one of a family of seven children who had been taken to the Children’s Office by their grandmother. She said she could no longer care for them and if they were not taken in she would put them on the streets. Not only were these kids being abandoned they were also to be separated from each other. No where could take in all seven of them … it was so difficult not to say .. yes please we will take all seven.. unfortunately we were not in a position to do this so we took Faith back with us. The next day, and one white teddy later, she was like a different child. Happy and smiling, glad to be fed and warm and get attention from adults. These Kenyan kids could teach us all many lessons in resilience and acceptance of our lot. They are amazing little people and make us so proud to be a part of their lives.
Since we had been there in June, Edwina has started a training centre for local Masai girls in the large rooms in the front of the building. These girls are often married at about age twelve, many of them have babies and they do not get the opportunity to go to secondary school. There are ten girls taking part in the training for this first session of it. They are being trained in cookery, sewing ( we brought three singer sewing machine over with us) and crafts and woodwork – all with a view to them being able to get a job or set up a small home industry on completion of their training. Edwina, by some miracle, had succeeded in getting the teachers to start the project on a voluntary basis and much thanks is due to them. The cookery teacher has indicated that she will be able to get employment for four of the girls so that is fantastic. Of course we could not expect these people to volunteer their time forever to we needed to figure out how to pay them. This project is so good, even in its infancy, that we could not consider giving up on it. But once again we found the right people at the right time. Paddy with his magic way of meeting people has been in contact with a great Dutch organisation who are prepared to take on the cost of running this training programme. Watch this space – this training programme has the potential to be amazing. The ten girls there at present are lovely girls who are delighted to be there and learn. They go home each evening.
We spent the week with the children and Edwina and her family planning for the next projects in February 2013. What we do depends on how many volunteers we have coming with us but at present we are planning to – finish the fish project, set up chicken and rabbit projects, we need more furniture, mosquito nets etc for the Centre so there is plenty to do. We will also work in Kibiko Primary School as we did last year and will work with Nancy Stevens and her Kenya Help crew from Canada on a local Secondary School.
To have seen how well everything is running, eleven little people in residence and ten great teenagers in training makes me very proud to have played my small part with Cara Projects in all this and I can only salute Paddy who, no matter how tough it gets and it gets tough!- never gives up on his dream for the kids from Kibera.