Field trip to Kenya

In late November, a team from Feminenza, including Board members of Give a Girl a Chance, went to Kenya on a mission. For the Give a Girl a Chance team, this meant catching up with our friends at Tasaru, and visiting the Zachary Taylor Orphanage to see for ourselves the aftermath of the fire, and show our generous donors the results of their gift.

The team arrived at Kisii on a Tuesday evening, and early Wednesday morning set off for 2 hours’ driving over very bumpy roads to reach the orphanage. Once there, they were greeted by much singing and excited children. After being shown around the burnt dormitories, they were shown the two small classrooms which have been converted into temporary dormitories, with all the mattresses and blankets that have been purchased through the donations from GGC. It was clear that the children are still quite traumatised, but the teachers, and Chief Josiah, Dr Enos (the chief’s son) and his wife Judy and his amazing mother in her nineties, are doing a fantastic job of keeping the school going, and doing their best to maintain the dignity of the children under very difficult circumstances.

The donations also allow us to purchase sacks of rice and maize. Once that was unloaded, the team were shown around the site of the destroyed dormitory by Chief Josiah. The entire roof had burnt away, the bed frames were destroyed, and the Chief explained that because of the intense heat, the walls would crumble if a new roof was put on, so the whole thing would have to be gutted, and an entirely new dormitory built in its place. GGC has received a proposal for the rebuilding of the dormitory ($24,000) which we are currently reviewing.

They were then taken to see where the children are currently sleeping. Two classrooms, one for the girls, and one for the boys, have been converted into dormitories, with the mattresses covering the entire floor space, and the children sleeping two or three to a mattress. At the moment they don’t have enough room for all the mattresses, so some are in storage along with blankets.

After some lunch, the team were ushered towards the big event of the day – a graduation ceremony for 11 small children, graduating from pre-school to primary school (they were about 5-7 years old)! Mary Noble (co-founder of Feminenza) was asked to be the guest of honour, and present them with their beautifully made certificates. It was quite an event – the little ones all had specially made graduation caps, and walked down a line, bravely shaking hands with the teachers, the Chief, Elizabeth (GGC) and then finally Mary, before receiving their certificates.

After various speeches, where great thanks was expressed to Feminenza and Give a Girl a Chance, Elizabeth thanked Victor for his role in helping rescuing the children from the fire. Next, Desmond began handing out each of the new graduates a small toy from a large box of toys he had brought with him from Ireland, donated by family and well-wishers of GGC. Then, an enormous pile of new school uniforms, cups, plates, shoes, sandals and socks appeared, again purchased with GGC donations, and the team were asked to hand out the first 10 lots.

Later, the team were taken to see the vegetable garden, and Elizabeth and Desmond both planted a tree. We then met with the chief, some of the teachers, and Chief Josiah’s son, Dr Enos, who is the manager of the orphanage with his wife Judy. Dr Enos is a qualified medical doctor, specialising in child psychiatry and trauma, allowing him to help the children better.

As the day drew to a close, the team were then proudly presented with new dresses and shirts, beautiful handmade baskets, and the two gentlemen (Desmond and Bruno) received carved walking sticks, which are symbolic of chiefly authority! Mary and Elizabeth valiantly tried to balance the baskets on their heads – much to the amusement of everyone, and realised that it’s much harder than it looks!

After many warm goodbyes, the team parted and drove away. All in all, it was a day of many poignant moments, knowing that there is still so much that could be done, but grateful that with the help of so many of you, we could play a small part in those children’s lives that day.

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