Normally here in this space I would be giving you the news of the past month.. but at this time of year I am asking for your help.
Our school will be breaking up for two weeks before Christmas, this is the only time that the school closes, of-course the Orphanage remains open. Our teachers work 50 weeks of the year, this is the only time that they are given a break.
The majority of our children will stay where they live, which will mean enormous hardship.
Help us this year by donating to assist us in making as many food parcels as possible. A food parcel which will contain, rice, flour, fat, salt, sugar, some greens, for a family of up to 5 will cost $25.00. Free water will also be given.
We would very much like to do at least 300 food hampers. Plus we would include depending if funds are available, rent assistance, that many of our families will remain with a roof over their heads.
For us at Gabriel’s the year is almost coming to an end, our children have all taken their exams and waiting now for their results a time also to prepare for their next year.
We will begin 2017 with a further 35 children, and begin Grade 6.
It is hard to believe that only three years ago we transferred from our rented school to our very own new school with 30 children now we are topping almost 300.
Some of our children are in boarding schools and surrounding public schools in grades 7 and 8 but are still part of our Gabriel’s family as we tend to their school fees, clothing and food.
We have two children, sponsored into University, and soon another 4 in high school.It still remains such a dream for so many of our children to be receiving an education and the older ones now can clearly see a future.
Our Orphanage is now complete with 50 children, those in boarding school will be home to us soon for their annual school holidays and it’s truly a joy to see them with all their brothers and sisters in the orphanage.
We are constantly buying shoes and clothes like all children they grow so fast, and the wear and tear of shoes in the playground is a shoemakers nightmare
Here in Nakuru there are many markets that we buy our clothes from, they are second hand but have years of wear still in them the same as shoes that we buy. It’s a fun day when we bring in clothes for our orphans, to them they are new clothes and shoes and there is always much excitement.
Hello all, Normally here in this space I would be giving you the news of the past month.. but at this time of year I am asking for your help. Our school will be breaking up for two weeks before Christmas, this is the only time that the school closes, of-course the Orphanage remains open. Our teachers work 50 weeks of the year, this is the only time that they are given a break.
Our new library which we began to build whilst i was there in August 2016 is now almost complete and we have been thrilled with the amount of books which are already beginning to pile up, soon to be placed upon the shelves of this new room of escapism for our children.
My father had always told me that you are able to travel the world from your armchair through books, this is still very much possible and for the books that have been brought to us from volunteers visiting we are thrilled with the selection of titles not only about travel but the old classics, nature and science, motivational, history and of course many amazing children’s stories. Ann enormous thank you to all who have brought books from your country to our children.
We were also thrilled to be able to build the library with a cement slab roof so that we will be able to in time add another classroom on the top, which will eventually be for our grade 8 class. Currently we are preparing for grade 6 as already our children in grade 5 have commenced studies for their next year. I am always so amazed that we began with only 30 children, now we have just on 300…. and even more next year!
As Christmas fast approaches, we are now hoping to organize a most wonderful day for our children, both in our Orphanage and school, if you can assist we would be as always thankful, or consider giving your children the gift of Sponsoring one of our children this year… there would be no grater gift.
We never walk alone in doing all that we do, if it was not for the support from you we could not do as much as we do, as is needed and as much as it changes the lives of others. Thank you.
Last days in Kenya, here I tend to forget the world I leave behind when I return to Gabriels. Never forgetting family and friends they remain with me wherever I go, but the leaving the world of fresh running water, garbage free streets, fresh food and vegetables whenever needed…here, in Nakuru, we also have all the necessary life sustainable stores, but its not available to all, to so many, to those we visit in the slums, to the parents of our children or to our children.
A main part of what we do is to gift a new life, a new start to those who have given up hope. Hope of actually being able to go on. Hope a food that sustains many and then, to many, hope in no longer an option.
In our school and orphanage we have little Vivian now 5, a deaf girl and a little boy Zachariah, 6, we met these children during a house cleaning during a previous trip. The mother had turned to alcohol, a home brew, which slowly kills the brain; her addiction was due to being herself abandoned, illiterate not able to find sustainable work, her mind and body no longer able to fetch water, to be able to feed her children. Vivian and Zachariah only two of her children, the other at home baby Brian, and the remainder three in the streets, begging for food, scrounging on the rubbish dump, turning themselves into lost souls forever amongst so many homeless street children.
The welfare of little Vivian, and Zachariah was very doubtful, to the extent that they to would turning to the street to survive. Vivian profoundly deaf would never have survived. Making the decision or choosing to whom we invite into our orphanage does not come easy, we have sadly only so many beds, and only so much money, the desperation of this family was in urgent need.
Without making the decision for both these children to come to us would be giving life up. On the day we found them, we took them to live with us, to begin a new life, to give them a future. The mother her mind all but obliterated from alcoholism willed them away.
Vivien is now is a special deaf school where she boards during the week and comes home to us and her brother Zachariah. Their family is now extended to many brothers and sisters, where now she has found a voice in learning sign language, her home is safe, secure where there is food on the table.
Since first finding the children’s mother we have called upon her to help where we could, with food, water and to watch over her smallest child, Brian who at the time we were unable to take as the mother would not let him go and there was a possibility with only one child she would be able to care for him.
Now, on our visit to her home, a 3 x 6 metre, mud lean too. Walls crumbling down infested with lice, bed bugs, cockroaches and other insects we again saw that Brian’s needs were being forgotten; he quickly grabbed the food that was held out to him, his little body covered in filth. It was time to act again.
Christopher suggested that again we clean out her house, to replace the rotten one mattress, to rid of as much vermin as we could and to endeavor to give her hope yet again. My first reaction was to not agree, as we had done it before and now again to repeat when there are so very many that we also needed to help. The mother had now had given up hope, her days no longer important to her, her child, Brian forgotten.
I have now been back in Perth for just over a month, my normal routine of coming into my office garage daily, taking my boys for a walk – my dogs, Angus and Vinnie, the normal house cleaning etc. etc. except the day has now been broken with the start up of a Op Shop Pop Up Shop.
Over the year I have been donated many items to place for sale in local newspapers, fetes’, or fundraising sales; the pile became bigger and bigger almost growing without realizing soon I would be out of house and home myself.
Luckily one of our most valued volunteers, Gayle, or as the children in Kenya call her GG, located a retail outlet that we are able to use on a month to month basis in the heart of Fremantle. Fremantle a port city around 22 kms from Perth.
Quite a few of our Fremantle residents are rather eclectic from the rich to the poor and infamous to the alternative and of all different races. The shop attracts them all. There are books to forage through, nic nacs to look over, clothes and jewelry. Ninety nine percent of what we sell is all under $20.00.
It is here that you meet the most amazing people, people that I wouldn’t necessarily meet as I seem to lock myself away in my own world as most of us do.
Down a small embankment forcing the heavy rains away from a paneled wooden door, which scraped along the gritty floor of a darkened room we entered.
It took a while for my eyes to adjust from the daylight in to this hovel of filth.
A torn and dirty sheet hanging from rusted nails from the soot-covered webs for privacy lifted and there a small child stood with his mother with a baby in her arms.
The whites of the child’s eyes began to fill with tears and then a squeal; To this small boy we are beings from another planet, our white skins, our bodies a confusion of smells from odour to exotic perfumes. The squeal turns to a cry of panic, I take the baby from the mother and she lifts the child up over her already swollen pregnant belly.
The child’s cries are soothed but the tiny head remains turned away, we see now little legs of a severely malnutrition body. As the little boys body is further exposed ribs press against his darkened skin, his crying subsides.
The baby that I hold too young to care about our differences looks at me inquisitively and laughs, eyes bold.
My Nakuru Hope office here in Perth is in the garage where I live. I converted it some time ago so as to be just a little away from the front door of my home as it felt as if I never left the ‘office’ otherwise. Now with a view of the front garden, noises from the street, as quiet as it is, my dogs laying asleep, snoring, oblivious to my thoughts of my impending return to Kenya.
For the past 9 years I have been making the trip, now to what I feel is my ‘other home’ a family there so far removed from my own its always new and different every time I visit. There are no pretenses is my other world, those I work with and for are truly themselves, no shame in being destitute as that is all that they know. Knowledge of charming restaurants servicing delectable morsels of tantalizing foods, no stores full of objects that are wanted but really never needed, drink brands fulfilling dreams of becoming healthy or enjoyment, for them there is no water. The clothes on their backs and little food in a weevil ridden jar looking down from a dusty and sooty shelf upon a mattress rotted by urine and wear from the many that it is slept upon each night. My world differs far from the one I have here and even I at times I too am easily caught up in the wants rather than the needs.
The new year rushed in full force as does a storm, with so much happening at the school/orphanage but like a storm the morning after is fresh and all new as it has been with so many of our children that have begun their education with us, and for some made a new home with us in the orphanage.
Over the years I have become Mother to many of the children at the school and they are strongly embedded within my heart, their problems ours, and their joys we have the pleasure and privilege of experiencing.
It is hard not become involved in their daily lives, and the lives of their family, it is not only our work but also our commitment to them, and like any mother you never stop worrying about your children. Sadly though when we find a child that needs help, we cannot change their attitudes overnight, or their circumstances, we see children that are in dire need of help but through their living experiences on their own for so long, in the wrong company of others or through sickness and death we are forced to let go.
Written from the journal of a volunteer
Claudine volunteered with us at Gabriels 2013 her writing told the story:
I looked into the face of death.
Death didn’t scare me for it was there to collect another, although her time wasn’t quite there. Death was waiting, slightly obscured by the shadows but there to be seen should you look hard enough. Death is patient; he is quite certain we all come to him in turn, and he knows she will be with him before the next full moon.
I could see Death in her sunken eyes, and I thought I could see Fear there too. At the sweet age of fifteen, the victim of a brain injury sustained from a beating, she didn’t want to go either.
Or perhaps I imagine the fear in her eyes, and she is long gone. Why do we always wish to minimize the pain of such events?
I leave, wondering how I can cheat Death from his prize. If she could only have a feeding tube, a drip, she would make Death wait another decade or two to claim her.
But to what avail? Her family, already poor and in the slums, could hardly feed themselves prior to the beating she sustained. Now, one of the sisters must stay home with her 24 hours a day. They had to rent a second room to house her crippled body. Her colostomy bag is blocked with no-one to change it, she can’t swallow and as a result is slowly starving to death, and her family are burdened.
But my efficient problem-solving Western brain can’t accept that. Early the next morning, I rise and walk to the hospital. I visit the only hospice in Nakuru, and learn it is for cancer patient palliative care, not for long-term disabled patients. I leave with a half-solution; they will try to send a nurse out.