Sunday 31st October 2010

The past few days have been really busy with some visits and planning – both short term and longer term. Visits have mostly consisted of building relationships through 1-1 play time, cuddles (of course!) and a significant amount of working out how we can leave a positive mark on the Orphanage after we go back home.

Some immediate things are on how to integrate play into daily life. There are no quick fixes but I hope some small steps will go a long way.  Tomorrow we are getting some makeshift toy boxes for each house and therefore each family that will stay in the living room, rather than being kept ‘safe’ and for treats only.  We will be spending time with each House Mother and House Auntie explaining how and why these boxes work – that the toys are there to be played with at anytime the kids are home, it’s ok that they will suffer from wear and tear, and they are for all of them so to share rather than each child having ownership of a single toy. I’d like to get some ‘educational’ DVDs and books for the teachers and house mothers focussing on play. And we hope that the games taught (like Musical Statues) will carry on once we leave.

On Sunday we had a great time with them all – it was the weekend and everyone was really relaxed and enjoying their free time. We were encouraging a couple of the older boys experiment with photography, guiding them on the basics of how to get a good shot starting with holding the camera straight! And there were lots of questions and talk about England and what life is like there. Kevin has been renamed by the boys to ‘Manchester’ and the girls to ‘small Kevin’ (to save confusion between him and Papa Kevin!). As you can imagine he is pretty popular with them all!

After hanging out with some of the older kids on the weekend, we started discussing ways to help them as they approach 18  (the oldest kids are currently 13) and will officially be leaving the orphanage. There already plans to build a separate boys and girl house within the compound which they will move into when they are about 15-16 yrs old. Here they will cook, clean and generally take care of themselves with less hands-on supervision. Some of the boys have been taken under the wing of David (head of the farm and orphanage grounds) and so are learning farming and carpentry skills.  Many of these kids are very bright and are working hard at school; they have lots of ambition including Rachael who wants to be a doctor, James Juma wants to be a lawyer and Abdullah who would love to be a Pilot – and all three are pretty determined to get there!

A couple of ideas we’ll be exploring when we get back….

Penpals – whilst the postal service isn’t the most reliable here I still think this concept could be a lifeline for these kids. And perhaps once we have computers on-site and educated then they could email instead. Linking with school children of their age in the UK could be useful in developing their writing, reading skills as well as learning about other cultures and ways of living.

The Next Step – Looking into local families in Kenya who may take them under their wing whilst they are 18-22 or thereabouts, providing a stepping stone between TGLO and being fully independent. And also scholarships for academic and vocational courses – funding their further education and life after the orphanage is very much top of mind.

Lots more updates to follow now we have internet again!

Sejal xx

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