Blog update 11th November – last week in Magina
I’m writing this from Nairobi, where we have safely arrived today after a smooth journey from Turi, where we spent a relaxing couple of days with our friends Tom & Karen Andrews, who are teaching at a very nice school there! It was a big contrast to the previous three weeks: we were able to enjoy luxuries like a hot bath and not actually getting dirty again as soon as we put our feet on the floor!
The previous week was spent in and around the care centre and the school at Magina. One of the jobs we try to do each year is to decorate one classroom at the school, or to organise people to do it for us. Trying to keep the school up together is a bit of a Forth Road bridge job: the room we did this time was one that had been done only three or four years ago, but the climate is so tough that everything gets very dirty and worn very quickly. We had a willing crew of older boys from the care centre who enjoy painting. Speed rather than accuracy is the order of the day, so our main job, after organising them, is to clear up the mess they make, but they don’t do a bad job in the end, and it certainly means that the room gets painted where we would simply run out of time.
It’s really encouraging to see how the school has improved over the past couple of years. Benard, the current head, is doing a very good job: we hope and pray that he will stay, continuing to give direction and stability to the school. He is also very much aware of the difficult background that many of the children come from and is concerned not just to give them a good education as far as the Kenyan curriculum is concerned, but also to give them a good Christian, moral framework for life. He has a genuine love for the children, and encourages his staff to think like this too.
We always enjoy our time with the children in the care centre. Doing simple things with them, like making pancakes or chips, singing, or showing a film (they very much enjoyed Mary Poppins, Stick Man and Pinocchio) is always fun. Sue also got all the children to put their handprints on a blank wall with poster paint. We did this a few years ago, but it was getting faded, so there is now a new version. They gave us a party on our last night there – I’m pretty sure they enjoyed the food on offer more than we did – but we enjoyed the entertainment they provided, which included a very Kenyan drama about children being honest! On the morning of our departure, the children surrounded the car, refusing to let us go! Two of the boys were at the gate, saying, “We’ve lost the key: you can’t go!” All we do is show a bit of interest and love – over the past few years we have come to love these kids very much.
One other thing we were able to facilitate was to get a small house built for Aaron, a local herdsman with learning difficulties. He was essentially homeless, but he did have a piece of land next to his brother’s house, so it was a straightforward task to have the house built. We remind people that these house builds are only possible because people in UK choose to give money to Pamoja: it all comes from individuals’ generosity. And for many of those generous people, they choose to do this because they recognise how God has blessed them and want to pass that blessing on to other people. It was very touching that when I went to see Aaron in his completed house, in his simple way, he wanted to pray for us, and although I couldn’t understand much of what he said, I recognised plenty of ‘Era kamano’ (thank you) ‘Ber’ (good) and ‘Nysaye ogwede’ (God bless you).
Once more, we enjoyed our time in Magina. It had its challenging times, but we can also see some tangible results from our visit, like Aaron’s house and new gutters! But perhaps it’s the things that are hard to quantify, the seemingly random conversations, the quick prayers, that have more impact: things that we only find out about much later.
I think that gets things up to date! We have a week of visiting various friends around Nairobi, and meeting one of two new people, which we are looking forward to. We are also hoping to finally track down a solar fridge for Endau! But the coming week should be less stressful than the past four. I’ve also written a blog about the joys of Ahero (the local town near Eric and Millicent) to give you a little insight into life in the non-tourist parts of Kenya.
Thank you all for your interest, your love, your thoughts and your prayers.