January 13, 2011

One thing that I find particularly disturbing in Kenya is the abuse of donkeys. In the rural areas they are the beast of burden, hauling water, cabbages, wood, furniture, maize corn, and just about anything else that has to move.  Aside from hauling very heavy loads, they are often whipped and beaten mercilessly. I have yelled at more than one driver to stop, although I know they think I am a crazy white woman and I make no impact.

So I decided to give the kids a lecture about the importance of kindness to animals at our evening service. To try and reach them, I linked it to the teachings of the bible and the importance of all creatures in God’s eyes – Doug and I even sang “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (I can’t believe I remembered the words – “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small. All things wise and wonderful the Lord God made them all…”)

I told the kids that it makes me sad when I see people abusing animals, and how we need to respect all living things.  I am hoping that the kids can truly make the link between spirituality – church services, prayers, religious songs and scripture readings are daily events here – and how they express their spirituality through actions.  I’ve noticed they’ve started feeding the cat that hangs around Nyota every evening – small progress!!

January 10, 2011

Yesterday, Fancy (one of the women who works at Nyota) and I had a meeting with the “big girls” – Leah, Doreen, Mary and Lydia who are between the ages of 12 to 14. It appears that they throw their clothes all over their bedroom floor and rely on the two women caregivers here to do their wash. Amazing how teenagers bear similarities around the world! I told them they were now responsible for washing their own clothes and we also set a curfew of lights out at 9:30 PM on school nights. I spent some time talking to them about the opportunity they were being given, how education would open doors for them in so many ways and increase their independence, and how the smaller children look up to them. Hard to do this in a non-preachy manner but I did my best. I think I made a small impact – they were all doing their homework last night after support and all was quiet after 9:00!

I also watched a couple of sessions of “play therapy”. All the children here carry some emotional scars, some from being separated or losing their parents; others from severe abuse.  Play therapy allows these children to come to terms with their feelings through structured individual play in a quiet safe environment. There is a wide variety of toys for them to choose from – trucks, figures, kitchen sets, toy animals, dolls, etc.  I don’t know much about it but many of our staff have been trained in the technique by a woman in the UK who founded “Play Kenya”.  One eight year old girl spent almost the entire session taking the dolls to either Fancy or me and arranging them in our arms. Then she would squeeze water from a bottle into their eyes to make them cry, and then carefully wipe the tears from their eyes.  Another little five year old spent her session carefully “feeding” the dolls and wiping their mouths. It was amazing to me how much these two young girls either need to nurture or be nurtured.  We are also having a big problem with Nicholas, a 15 year old boy. He is extremely depressed – has eaten very little in the past four to five days, cries and isolates himself from the other children. We brought a counselor in to speak with him – who is also from his tribe and understands his culture. While we are still not clear on what is troubling him we did extract a promise that he will start to eat today and we are monitoring him closely. Sometimes the pain these children carry is overwhelming to them. But I know that Nicholas will come through this with the love and support of his new family.

We also went into town to buy some beef and ice cream for a treat for the children. We also took two kids with us to select some books for the library. Doug spent the better part of the afternoon cutting up and cooking the meat. I served up the ice cream in the mid-afternoon…I can’t tell you how good it tastes to eat strawberry ice cream in the 30 degree heat with the sun  beating down on you!  I also had a nice session reading to some of the smaller kids under the shade of a tree. They may not understand all the words, but they love the pictures and I try to put as much expression into the storytelling as possible, even adding the odd Swahili word (I am desperately trying to pick up a few important words). They kids were really impressed yesterday that I was able to say “insect” in Swahili!

Doug and I are on the coast for a few days of vacation. We needed some time to decompress and come back refreshed.  We’ll be back at Nyota on Saturday; then lots to do before we leave on Friday heading back home…sorry I can’t upload any photos from this internet cafe. Will post again soon.


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