Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Silvery Slivers of Wisdom; The Story of how we learnt that Old really is Gold.



This is something new for us, our maiden visit, if you will.

You see, ordinarily, we visit kids who are still under 18 years of age.
We are used to playing with them, the sing-a longs that makes them so jolly, the candy they so adore.. And don't get me started on the milk and cakes that fill their tiny bellies.
You tell them about life, how things will change in a few years to come. 

"Mary, be careful with the boys. Do not play too much with them now like before. Your body is changing". 

 "James a real man is a man of his words. You have to be a man of your word. Both to others, and to yourself. So you promise yourself to work hard, you have to give it your all. Be true to your word." 

Do you see why it's different now? These old men and women have seen it all.
I met a man who just clocked 104.
Will I even get to 70? With the amount of soda and fries that I take?!
He's so happy.
He smiles but he has no teeth.
He tells me about the wars. Things that I only read on my history text book.
He was born in 1914.
He was born before the white man came to his village.
What wisdom he holds.
You try to imagine how things were at that time but nothing.
I can't even imagine of a time without electricity in every home.
No television, and worst of all, No phone!

What do you tell such a person? Who has seen more in life than anyone you've met.
We're used to giving advice but this time, we all sit in silence.
To hear what they have to say. It’s a silence filled with wisdom; pearls of wisdom and tales of happier times.

A lady passes by and stands next to the flag and starts dancing. She’s smiling. Like she just met her first love.
But am told that she lost her mind some years ago.
She has no recollection of how her youthful days were like.
But I can tell she must have been a dancer, she must have been the life of the party.
At her age and she is smiling like there is no care in the world.

I envy her.

The place is Mji Wa Huruma. Situated somewhere in Runda. A pot of Gold. A home for the elderly.

If you too get time, roundup a couple of your friends and pay these wizened old men and women a visit. They sure could use the company of some young vibrant souls, if anything, to remind them of the joys of their youth. Though I suspect you will gain more from the visit than they will. Also, remember that African proverb, mkono mtupu, haulambwi. It is also unAfrican to visit a homestead empty handed ;-) 😉





Photo and story credits:  
Hilda- A lovely Generation Hope member.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Abled Differently: Light & Hope home, Korogocho



An open mind, open expectations and open hearts.  That was us as we
walked through the doors of Light and Hope home for children with
disabilities in Korogocho. You see, we had never before been to a
home for children who are perceived to be disabled.
And special appreciation to Rozzy from Versatile Photographers who accompanied us in the visit.

So, let me tell you, what we experienced at the home is beyond what we
would have imagined. These children are not disabled, they are abled
differently.

You think they can't sing? You think they can't play? You think they
can't introduce themselves? And you think they can’t take selfies? You are very mistaken!  They are happy happy little people who can do much more than you would expect. Nguvu nayo, we
played the tag of war game, and we lost!!


When we were preparing what to take for the kids, we did not know what
to carry with us, but when we left the home, we carried one thing with
us; "The greatest gift you can give them is your time." And also, in
a way, they blessed our hearts more than we blessed theirs. That I am
sure of...


After the meeting we had a sit down with the indomitable Ms. Joyce,
one of the administrators and founders of the home and a parent too of
one of the kids there. And we learnt quite a lot, with her seated at
the far right of the room and us, seated around her listening, with
rapt attention, like kids around a camp fire, to the incredible story
of how the home came to be, the successes and the challenges. One of
the things that stuck with us and was proven through an incident that
happened a little later on is that this is a home for the community by
the community. A community coming together and through sheer power of
will and love, coming together to create something full of beauty and
love. Korogocho is a slum area, and so I know you have an idea of the
standards of living of most people there. But they are a people who
have overcome this and found it in themselves to build a place of such
lovely children, and help them grow into capable people.  And show
them love. Teach them.

The parents offer services to the home in turns. Each parent has their
days to cook for the kids and clean up the place, on top of their day
to day jobs. If that ain't love and dedication, I don't know what is.
This aspect of it being a community based project has it's challenges
too. Top among them is lack of permanent sponsors. People who can
provide fulltime financial support for the home.  To meet such
expenses as,  therapy for the kids (which sometimes is not possible
due to lack of funds)  and meals(nutritionally balanced meals) for the
kids and learning materials. And this is where we ask for your help.
If you know of someone, an individual or even an organization that
would be willing to work with the home. Please, do let us know. And if
you would like to make contributions to the home in any way,  let us
know and we will get you in touch with the administration. We even
learnt that there's a program called adopt a child where you can
choose a kid and support them financially.. Either for therapy
sessions or any other way...
All in all,  it was a humbling,  beautiful and a joyous experience.
They are beautiful people. In their own unique way,  they are so
genuinely beautiful with hearts of innocence,  Light and Hope.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

My Date With Blessings; the home for little angels.


We walk in through the gate at around 3:05 PM. We were meant to be here by two o’clock. But I will shamefully admit that most of us, in this our “landing party” are African timers. So yeah, we arrive here one hour late. The home is not far from Ruai town, so the group had to walk here. Four of my friends and I are the last to walk in through the gate. We had lagged behind as a result of this injury I have on my leg. So they have to walk at my pace.
You see, the way this home is designed, it is such a way that, the buildings have been built at the edges, thus leaving a vast open space in the middle. Basically, it makes it look like a playing field enclosed by houses. We walk in through the gate to see an empty ground and for a moment I am disappointed thinking we’ve arrived during nap time for the kids or something. But I can’t see my fellow group members as well, and it is so quiet so I am baffled for a moment. But then, my friend who has been here numerous times, points at a long building at one end of the field, it is the dining hall. Of course that’s the only place they could be at. And so we make our way towards it.
I hobble in through the door, followed closely by my friends, to see a mixture of little faces peering up at us and slightly older faces (My friends who already got here earlier and took their seats). The kids are not that many, full house, they are thirty five in total, but today some of them are in boarding schools so they are roughly twenty five in total. My friends and I walk around the room saying Hi to the kids, I prefer a fist bump, I feel like it shifts the power from me to them, in a weird way, you know, not my gigantic hand wrapped around their tiny ones.

I have to pick a place to sit. After a quick glance around the room, I see two little kids seated next to each other, a boy and a girl. By the look of it, they look three-ish or four-ish. I walk towards them and lift the boy off his seat and put him on my lap and take the seat. In retrospect, I should have picked the girl. This little boy is a ka-terrorist I tell, a cute little terrorist. From the moment I sit down to end of that day, I know no peace. Lol. He is a headstrong boy. A curios little boy. One moment he is struggling with my water bottle, trying to open it and asking what was inside, “Nini iko ndani? Ni maji?” he asks peering up at me? I nod trying to keep it low since someone is speaking at the front. But I think it is true what they say about men and their inability to whisper because this little boy has no chills, he talks so loudly. Lol. My efforts to shush him bearing no fruits. Soon he is tired of playing with my water bottle and now he is after my glasses. After a small light hearted struggle which includes soft head butting struggle, he wins one and I win the other and manage to give my glasses to a friend to just hold on to them for me. This my kalittle friend, he is cheeky too. The small girl seated next to us knows no peace either. Dennis ni kamchokozi and it takes a lot from me to keep his hands away from the little girl who is just looking on helplessly. But it was a lot of fun. We were probably making a little noise, but I am sure the speakers at the front understood it. They could clearly see my struggles with this little terrorist. Hahaha!


Soon the speeches and presentations session is over. I can’t believe that took all of 45 Minutes. Between my onslaught with little Dennis and our chairman thinking that it is a very good idea for all the guys who we came with to stand at the front and present our own songs to the kids, time seems to fly. It is snack time already. I jokingly threaten Dennis that he won’t get any because he has been mean to Steph (Stephanie in full). Woi! This is a yuuge mistake on my part. You see my Dennis is someone who doesn’t like it when people joke with his snacks! We are thrown into yet another war and I end up losing and as a result of my tyrannical utterances, which seemed to suggest that I am the one in a position of power when in fact I am not, I am now to feed him, hold his juice cup and make sure that no sooner than he taps my arm to indicate that he wants a sip, the cup is already on his lips! Nourishing him. This kids totally has me in his reigns. But it is okay. It is fun.





I try chatting up Steph who seems a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing, the presence of all the new faces. At some point, I am forced to admit to myself that I am not as good with the ladies as I like to think I am. I mean, I can’t even get a smile from her! Damn! But I try not to push it too much, social anxiety is a real thing and I am sure she will open up at her own time.
We are soon done with the Snacks and it is time for my favourite time of our visits!! The playing with the kids!! You see, I love this part coz, apart from all the fun it bestows from the playing with this little angels and seeing them having fun and laughing with reckless abandon, like all that matters is this moment, the here and the now- It also takes me way back to when I was a kid. I get to relive my childhood again. And I do this shamelessly. Because, you see, this is the sole purpose of my being here. I am not here to care about how anyone will think me childish for doing all these, no, I am here to be all the childish I can be, I am here to have fun with this little angels!

                              


We pile outside onto that field I told you about earlier. The one enclosed by the Home’s buildings? Yeah that one. But people can play by the way! Me some of these games I don’t even know about. You see, I grew up in the rural area and some of these games we didn’t play as children… Like “I sent a letter…”, or .. see? I even can’t remember some of the names. But it is so much fun. Either way, I decide to stick to the ones I know. No need to embarrass myself (though the fact that I know these games does not preclude the possibility of me embarrassing myself. You’ll see why in a while). I join in the Nyama Nyama Nyama game (if you don’t know this game, I don’t know which games you played as kids!) but damn, these kids are good :‘( Very soon I am in the circle amidst laughter from the kids for having jumped when they called out frog meat. I try arguing that the Chinese eat them and so it’s food but these children will hear none of it! Looks like they are having real fun throwing me into the losers circle. And I thought there’s no way I’d be embarrassed here!


I would have wanted to play football, but remember that foot injury I was telling you about? Well, it can’t allow me to do so. You see, ironically, the foot injury was suffered when playing another game, martial arts, I am a big fan of that too; but I digress. But I still manage to look on with awe as one lady, going by the name Winnie Madigizela (one of our members) takes up this game as if she were wearing a golden boot. Kumbe people have hidden talents. And not just in football by the way, because my next stop is Katii (or Mbanya for the people who grew up where I did). Well, me I am eliminated with the second throw. I guess I am not as good as I thought I was. Another embarrassment from the kids who are having a time of their lives! But there’s also Beth. She’s one of the ladies we came with. Weh, this chiq can play this game. It’s like she is invisible to the ball. Untouchable. She is giving these seasoned kids a run for their money. I think she should consider coaching this game at the Olympics level. Well, that’s assuming that it is there... I will get my revenge though. I take the ball and join the throwing side. They will know why there are no birds that dared patch on the trees around our house when I was a kid! I will hit them with this ball mpaka wajue I am no jokes! But loh! I am missing all the throws! When did I get this old!!

                                                        

All in all, it is so much fun and before I even know it, it is already 6:30! And since some of us live a thousand miles away, we have to wrap up and call it day. But not before a vote of thanks and washing up the dishes we used up. Oh yeah, and Steph! Steph finally opens up. You see, at some point, we were playing with Dennis where I was throwing him up in the air and catching him. Now, Steph timidly approaches me and says, “Nichezeshe venye ulikuwa unachezesha Dennis”. Kumbe she was watching from a distance all along. So I lift her up by the armpits and throw her up in the air and catch her as she comes down. And boy is it rewarding! Because within no time she is squealing with laughter and girly screams of excitement! Damn, I can barely believe that this is the same little girl who wouldn’t even reward me with smile earlier on. Now here she is, laughing and grinning from ear to ear with excitement. Then I start whirling her round and round (because my arms are tired and I can’t throw her up anymore) and this too gives rise to a lot of giggling and laughing especially when we stop and I am struggling to stand up straight from all the dizziness of going round and round. Needless to say, my evening is made… I guess so is hers.


I gotta say though. The hardest part is saying goodbye to these kids. Especially the young ones. Some even cry and it is sad… Not my proudest moment, but I had to hide from Dennis and Steph. It would be hard to say goodbye to them especially if they started crying. I met lots of interesting kids. And if I were to speak about each one of them, this would go on for like five pages. All I know is that it was one awesome experience (as is every time we do this) and I am looking forward to the 4th of March for another dosage of this! 




I could go on and on about what an awesome time I had, but sadly I have to stop here (mostly coz I am doing this while at work and my boss is starting to look at me suspiciously. Like “accounting doesn’t have this much literature young man! Are you writing a love letter or what?” well, I sort of am! It is something close to my heart). Anyway, I would like to thank one Wanjohi Wachira, our chairman. This guy is so passionate about what we do that it is inspiring. He had the option to cancel this visit, because the person who had initiated it (wanted to have a birthday party there) cancelled at the very last minute, but our very able chairman decided to go ahead with it with or without the other party and it turned to be so much fun! They say that there is no greater joy than when you help someone whom you know they will never repay you. Well, I say these kids repay me in ways they can’t even begin to imagine. Through their laughs and joyous faces!!