For my previous post on this trip: Insight Trip to Kenya – Day 1 & 2 (click here)
Today was one of the best days in my life because I finally got to meet a very special girl – Mwelu.
On Day 3, we drove 2 hours to Kiu, a rural area south of Nairobi where Mwelu lives.
The project we went to was on a hill and we had to drive through an extremely bumpy road for 40mins in order to get there. In fact, we drove on that hilly road 4 times in total in this trip, because later on on Day 5 we had to return to the project to visit the mums and bubs. I almost threw up the first time because of car sickness.
Unlike the kids back in Umoja where they were queuing at the entrance to wait for us, here in Kiu, as our van was approaching the centre, all the kids started running towards us to greet us. They gave us hugs and cuddles as soon as we stepped off the van. Some of the little ones didn’t even want to let go of our hands at all. They were all so ecstatic about our visit.
Seeing the joy on their faces, I must say that I was so overwhelmingly touched by their excitement.
There was this one little girl who was holding my hand the entire time since I got off the van. She didn’t speak a word. She didn’t jump around like all the other kids. She simply held my hand and walked with me to the hall where the welcoming ceremony was held.
I tried to talk to her, but she didn’t say anything back. It maybe because she hadn’t started to learn English in school yet given that she’s still in her early age. Having said that, I felt so connected to her when she looked at me, I could see the joy in her eyes, and with that lovely smile on her face, I knew that she was telling me that she was very delighted to see me.
My team were led to the reserved seats allocated at the front of the hall. This little girl took me to my chair and she still wouldn’t let go of my hand, so I picked her up and let her sit on my lap. She was very happy.
There are 313 children registered in the project, 298 of which already have sponsors.
Once the children are registered, they are already entitled to receive funding for their education and welfare. However, the children who not yet have a sponsor, their funds are relatively smaller than those who receive full sponsorship.
What I would like to point out is that even though the figures here sounds great to have over 95% children receiving full sponsorship, the fact is that there are many more children in their area who are not in the program. And because the funding is limited, the centre can only take up a certain number of kids. In most cases, each family can only send one child to join the program, which I can imagine is a very difficult decision for the parents, especially that they usually have big families in developing countries, but I guess this is the way to ensure that the benefits can be spread across different families.
During the welcoming ceremony, I was “reunited” with my sponsored child Mwelu.
I was told that the name Mwelu means “New” in the Kamba language. In this occasion, her church officially welcomed me into their family by giving me a Kamba name “Mwende”, which sounds very similar to “Mwelu”, meaning “the loved one”. On that day, all the kids had been calling me my new name the entire afternoon while I was chatting and playing with them. It was so sweet of them to give me such a lovely name. I indeed felt so loved by everyone there.
Remember that cute little girl I mentioned earlier, the one who walked me to the hall and would not let go of my hand? Later on I found out that her name is also Mwende.
From there on, we divided into small groups and visited the different classes running at the project.
Here in this photo above is the social worker in the project. Her name is Grace. She is as amazing as her name implies.
On that day, I was wearing a T-shirt and I had sweat dripping down my back all day, but we noticed many of these kids were wearing jumpers and beanies, so we decided to ask Grace what’s happening there. Apparently, it’s because their mothers were so concerned about their kids’ health and worried that they might get sick from a cold and the fact that these families cannot afford to take the kids to the doctors, let alone medical access is very limited in the area, the mothers tend to put on a lot of clothes on their kids to keep them warm, yes, even on a hot day like this.
On the way to Mwelu’s home, we made a brief stop to visit her school.
This is Mwelu’s home.
She lives in a typical rural house that built with mud and roofed with straw. The downside of using these kinds of materials to build houses is that they often attract lots of flies into the house.
There is no electricity or water supply in most of the homes in rural area. And it doesn’t rain much either. The residents either go fetch water from a nearby river or they would have to buy them from sellers.
Mwelu’s parents are farmers. Though her dad recently started a security job at her school, the family still grow their own food as they always do. The house-like structure in middle picture in the upper row and the close-up in the first picture from the left in the lower row is where the family store their corns, which are the main food for the family as well as their poultry.
Mwelu’s mother gave me two very special presents – a Maasai Shukas and a bead bracelet.
After meeting Mwelu’s family, we returned to the project to play with the children.
***End of Day 3***
a painting on the wall in one of rooms at the project