I had heard about The Good Life Orphanage a few times over the last few years as Mary and Kevin are part of my extended family but it wasn’t until my sister Nuala visited in 2010 that I realised what wonderful work they do there. After hearing all Nuala’s stories, I decided that I was definitely going with her on her next visit. So in November Nuala & I went together to the Good Life Orphanage. When Nuala and I arrived at the orphanage I was overwhelmed with the welcome we received from the children and all the staff that work there. Everyone was so cheerful and I realised from the beginning how lucky these children were to be in such a loving, safe environment. Mercy showed us round the orphanage, farm and school and introduced us to all the Mammas, Aunties and children. I also met Mamma Jane and Mamma Bridget who were also volunteering.
Keogh House
The following day after having slept for about 14 hours, we got started into our daily routine. I spent a lot of time in the Keogh house helping Mamma Lucy and Auntie Isabella. There are eight children in Keogh house, five of them under three years, so Lucy and Isabella have plenty of work to do! The mornings were busy helping prepare lunch, entertain the babies, put them down for naps etc. The bigger children came home from school for lunch and after lunch only the older children go back to school. Then it’s playtime for the younger kids. So, off to the playground with everyone. On the first day I made the mistake of picking little Patrick up and spinning him round and very soon I had a squad of children surrounding me wanting to be spun too….I was exhausted! Quite a lot of the afternoons were taken up with bringing the children to and from the farm – often multiple times in one afternoon. Little Jack especially loved to visit the cows and Nuala couldn’t say no to him.
Jack with Nuala
Enjoying Joe Geelings Playground still
For the first couple of days at the orphanage, they had no power at all, as someone had stolen a part of the generator in the village. When the power is gone, there is also no water and I was amazed at how the Mamas & Aunties can cope so well. They had to use the hosepipe to fill buckets of water so they could still cook for the children and clean the houses. Having no running water made it particularly difficult for Auntie Janet. She does all the laundry for the orphanage and as if the job isn’t hard enough already…having to constantly refill her buckets must have been exhausting. But she carried on regardless, always with a big smile.
Grace before meals at Maguire House
On my third day at the orphanage, Kevin very kindly brought us on his tour. We visited the family of Moses, who had worked for Kevin as a builder and sadly died of malaria last year. Since he died the family have fallen on hard times as they have no income now. When we visited we found that one of the children was very ill. He is Moses’ nephew and lives in the house along with his mother, Moses’ widow, his 4 children and his old Aunty. We brought the child to the hospital where he was admitted and diagnosed with malnutrition. His Mother stayed with him in the hospital. I was really shocked at the conditions in the hospital and how over-crowded it was, but Mary told me that this hospital was much better than some of the other hospitals in Mombasa. Moses family are being sponsored now by the Mason family from Manchester. They have paid for the house to be fixed up and built a little shop so the family have an income again.
Mama Georgie
Children see their reflection in the jeep
Kevin also brought me to a clinic in Shanzu. The clinic is a drop-in centre for the local community where they can be tested and treated for Malaria and HIV. I met a lady there called Millicent who volunteers as a counsellor for people newly diagnosed as HIV positive. She is HIV positive herself and her husband died of AIDs a few years back. Millicent has 5 children, one of whom, Verah, is studying journalism in Mombasa University. However, she can’t fnish her diploma as the relative who was previously paying her fees has fallen ill and can no longer afford it. This womans story really made me realize how much we take things for granted in the Western world. For less than £200 this girl can finish her education and hopefully get a good job so she can support her mother and break the cycle of poverty in her family at least. So I sent out a begging email to my friend Tom who responded immediately and said he would be happy to donate all of the money for the fees. I was delighted to be able to ring Millicent and let her know. I met her and Verah a couple of days later in Mtwapa for a coffee and a few days later I went with Millicent to the University to pay the fees on their behalf. Millicent also very kindly invited me to her home so I went to meet her, Verah, and her other daughter in their house on my last day in Kenya.
Maria & Millicent
During my time in Kenya, I also went with Nuala, Jane and Bridget to the feeding station. I was completely overwhelmed. It is arranged and paid for by the local Indian community. They feed approximately 1500 children every week. Some of the children walk for miles to get to the station, often with a younger brother or sister on their back and it may well be the only decent meal they eat all week. They are divided into groups of 4 and given a platter of rice and beans to share. They are also provided with a banana and bag of corn flour to bring home. It was a very humbling experience. We also met a very lovely Indian couple there who were kind enough to take us out for the day the following weekend.
The Feeding Station Kikambala
Feeding Station
All in all my experience in Kenya was wonderful and I was astonished by Mary and Kevins generosity, kindness and relentless energy. The orphanage is truly a sanctuary for the children in the midst of the appalling poverty in the surrounding villages.
Village Toddler
It is only with continued generosity of donors that their good work can continue and the orphanage can continue to provide a safe environment for these young children to grow up in.
Our little Mercy

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