by Mama Jane Higham
Well here I am back in England after my fourth visit to the GLO. I must admit to being slightly anxious about my visit this time as I was going on my own, without Mama B who has been my “roomy” on previous visits. It is worth mentioning that I am a woman of advancing years and so there was also a concern on my part about whether I could be of any use when I got there. Well I knew I was probably past a game of football on the field or skipping in the playground but maybe what I could not give in energy and staying power I could contribute in experience and more sedate activities!!
I need not have worried because everyone has something they can contribute no matter what age they are or what experience they have had. I arrived at the GLO and as always had such a lovely welcome from the women and staff who I have long since regarded as my friends. I had also “engineered” the time of my visit to coincide with Nuala and Maria’s stay. I have enjoyed their company on two previous visits and it was great to have a chance to catch up with them. They had arrived at the orphanage after completing a fundraising climb of Kilimanjaro – hats off to the young women!!
As I come from a social work background Mama Mary had a task already earmarked for me! The Children’s Department now expect every orphanage to have an Operations Manual which sets out how the Orphanage is run, the services it provides and the policies and procedures which underpin its practice. So I spent a few days re-writing policies and procedures and hopefully came up with something that would be acceptable to the Children’s Department.
I was also very pleased to be able to work with George, the GLO Social Worker in creating individual care plans for all the children, which again is a new requirement recently introduced by the Children’s Department. It was such a pleasure to be able to work with George who is so enthusiastic and to compare the role of the social worker in Kenya to that of a contemporary in the UK. At the end of our discussions I think we both agreed that George’s role is much more onerous as in Kenya they do not have the specialisms that we enjoy in the UK and therefore George’s role has to be much more generic.
The school continues to thrive, is very well organised, efficiently run and the children are like sponges soaking up information and knowledge because they really do know that education is the key to making a better life for themselves and their extended families. One of the highlights of my stay at GLO was watching the rehearsals in the school for the end of term concert. The children were so enthusiastic and accomplished in their performances and when the school choir sung I must admit to feeling rather emotional about it all.
You may recall I mentioned that my activities with the children tend to be of the much more sedate variety these days; so this year I taught some children how to do French knitting. They tackled it with great enthusiasm and by the time I left they were planning what to make out of some very long pieces of knitting.
The time as always went very quickly and before I knew it I was saying my goodbyes for another year. It gets harder to say these goodbyes every year as I have made so many good friends and just love being able to watch the children grow and flourish in an environment where they are loved, nurtured and cherished.
So here I am back in England with the central heating on and pondering how dark the days are here in the winter. That being said, it was very very hot and humid in Kenya during my stay and the climate not so conducive to a woman of a certain age who has her own heating system!!
Love and thanks to all who made my stay so enjoyable again – you are inspirational and your dedication to improving the lives of the children in your care is immeasurable.