Doug and I had to come into town today along with Mary Norman to pay her school fees. Mary is a lovely young woman whom we are putting through high school. Her fees for the year are $175.00 and another $75 for her school uniform and supplies. For us its a small sum but its a veritable fortune here for many people and thus many children don’t get to go to high school, where you must pay to attend even a public school.
Yesterday my mom and dad arranged to buy chicken for the children for supper…one thing about being here you crave protein after days and days of beans and corn and potatoes. Well the chickens arrived yesterday morning…12 scrawny laying hens. By noon they were defeathered and cleaned. By 6:00 PM they were chicken stew. However not stew like you and i know it…everything was in the pot including heads and claws. Even though I work in the meat business I couldn’t bring myself to eat it (shame on me as they waste absolutely nothing!). However the children savered every mouthful and made good use of my share.
I sat down individually with six of the newer children to learn about their life stories…their parents, their communities, how they came to be at Nyota and what they want for their future. I cannot describe how unsettling and sad this makes me on the one hand, and how inspired and amazed on the other. The absolute trauma these kids have endured; abuse, abandonment, neglect, loneliness and yet here they are happy for the smallest comforts, for food and school and as many of them told me, to have respect and the chance to be children. We walked them to school this morning at 7:15…they are all up by 6:00- even the five year olds, take care of getting themselves dressed, having breakfast and brushing their teeth before they head out. We sang the ABC’s and i make a game of asking them to say a word that begins with each letter. By the time we get to school everyone seems motivated and happy.
Yesterday I also played a few games of “pick up sticks” with Isaac, one of the older boys. He had never played it before but after the first game he beat me every time!
My parents are leaving tomorrow to go on safari and then head home to Canada. They have stayed here over a week. I have many people ask me whether its safe to come here or how people can make the adjustment. I am so proud that my parents, with their passion for life and experience came to visit and experience Nyota and the children. They have made a huge impact on the children, as they are respected elders. They also had an amazing experience which they will be sharing with their friends back home. The children love to have visitors – it opens up the world for them and they feel cared for by many. I hope we can inspire others to come!