As Evann left off, we were on our way to the Thriving Talents ChildrenÕs Centre in Kisii, in the west of Kenya. We arrived at the orphanage in the early evening, and were met with a very warm welcome. As we approached the place, we heard cheering from behind the gates. The gates flew open and the kids ran up to the car singing a welcome song. They lined up and we were serenaded as we entered the gates and came to a large field. Music was playing from a boombox, and the artists and some teachers were dancing around.
They were soon joined by the students and we were quickly pulled into the mix. It was so much fun to dance with the students! The students grabbed our hands and we jumped around in small circles, playing a sort of dancing follow the leader.
After a few songs, the students put on a small show for us. In addition to many welcome speeches, thanking us continuously for coming, the girls sang and danced for us and a couple students recited poems.
After this wonderful ceremony and some more dancing, some students showed us their rooms. The living conditions were cramped, dark, and fairly dirty. The orphanage houses about 150 kids in a few small rooms packed with bunk beds. I found the story of this orphanage to be very touching -- it is the work and generosity of a few caring people. An elderly couple donated a large part of their property on which to build the orphanage and school, but when the money fell short for the construction, the couple agreed to allow the children to sleep with them in their home. In addition to their home, the couple seems to continuously give all that they have to help provide food for the children. The four school teachers are completely volunteer, and a collection of guardians (mostly grandparents of the children) try to help provide for the children as well.
We returned to the orphanage the following day. We watched and helped teach math and english classes in the morning, then played with the students in the afternoon. Ethan brought a frisbee, so we taught kids how to toss it around. Then the girls led Evann, Linda, and I on a walk to a nearby tea factory, while the boys engaged in a soccer match. Ryan was the big scorer with his hat-trick -- course maybe goalie Ethan was just going easy on his brother for his 15th birthday...
There seems to be a lot that ESW could do to help this orphanage. They are planning to build new dorms and classrooms and then try to become economically self-sustaining, which fits well with our goals as a club. Hopefully this visit is the start of another ESW partnership in Kenya. We discussed possible future projects for ESW at this school, which Ozzie will elaborate upon in the next post....
Thriving Talents ChildrenÕs Centre, Kisii