The Orphan school at Kiteangela in Nairobi

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

What a compelling experience!
It is the 3rd day here and today we are driving to Kiteangela village to visit a school and many orphans.
It is quite far from where we stay, and the roads are unbelievably bad.  They are actually the worst we have ever seen.
Kitenagela has 4 Cement factories and the whole area is polluted. 
There is so much dust scattered in the air, and the fumes coming out of every car makes the whole place look like hell.
I remember seeing a policeman standing in the middle of the road next to a paper bag, and as we were approaching we saw the leg of a dead child hanging out from it.
Visiting the Orphan school.
A whole school is waiting for us out in a dirt road with their parents.  The moment they see our car they start moving towards us, dancing and singing.  There are about 200 to 230 people. Little by little they move towards us.  We get off the jeep and walk towards them to greet them.  They are very near us. We are almost face to face.  They greet us with welcoming songs and movements.  All of them seem happy and excited, and without stopping dancing even for a second we join them and all together we move towards their school ….it is not a school, but actually temporary hutments.
We are the people of honour for them this day.  As we are approaching, and move towards the school playground (fields) I see that they have some pieces of furniture –couch and arm chairs covered in white sheets for us to sit.
We all take our seats, and immediately the principal of the school places a string of gold colour around our necks – a sign of honour, while the mothers and children are still singing.  To my surprise I am given a programme by the chairman of the community where in detail I see what is going to take place very soon.
I give a short speech, tell them who I am and the purpose of this trip of mine, and it is so touchy to see all these orphans - many of whom lost their parents some years ago fighting for liberation. It is obvious that we have given them some hope today, and you can see this drawn on their little smiling faces.
I cannot understand where all these people out here draw strength from.  They are so satisfied and pleased with very little things.  They remind me of the people in Cuba, but I think things are even worse here.
The children recite for us, and also sing in groups.  They even perform a small sketch for us.  After breakfast, something like porridge is given to the children, and the programme goes on with more and more singing.  Singing, that lasts for more than 2 hours. 
Later on in the afternoon I am shown around…..their supposed to be classrooms!  Till that very moment I am ignorant of  how the classes look like.  With the principal of the school and the teachers we go round the (so called classes) … and we are also shown where the orphans sleep.  
I am shocked.  There is NOTHING in these shabby rooms.  In one of these rooms I see two or three wheels from cars, and I am told that these are used by students to write on.  The children sit on the earth, and use the wheels like desks.
I am even more shocked when we open a door and I am shown where the boarding house is….Just pieces of cloths on the earth, and a very small room or about 3 X 2 sq. metres where here more than 20 people sleep.  There are clothes on the ground, sheets and shoes. I cannot believe what we see today out here! Indescribable.
I tell the men in charge that I really don’t want to go anywhere else but concentrate on this particular school. I am supposed to visit other schools in the next days, but after seeing this situation here I just know that it is here that most attention should be given.
It is lunch time even though it is so late in the afternoon, because of the celebration today, and every child is brought his plate with food from the women who help.
I want to see the children eating and with my camera I enter a room where I find them all sitting on the ground enjoying their meal.  I see happy faces, and I am amazed how even little ones have a full dish of everything.  I am told that there are days that these children have nothing to eat, or they have just one meal the whole day and this is the reason why they are given so much when they have it.
I spend some time with them talking and getting acquainted and I tell them that I am coming back to give them books and copy books, pens and pencils, and that I have brought them cds with cartoons to watch, and over 100 English songs for kids to listen to and learn.  They ask for my name, and I also ask why some of the kids are using their hands to eat while some use spoons.  They tell me that they lack spoons. There are not enough spoons for everyone.
In reality these kids lack EVERYTHING!!!!
Before leaving we distribute some candies to both kids and parents who are so patiently waiting all these hours out in the field and in the sun.
We were ready to leave when some Massai women ask that we visit their village for a few minutes.  Nicholas, the chairman of the school and the church community suggests that we go, so we are soon in the jeep driving towards the small Massai village.
The Massai women have already run to the village to tell the good news that we are visiting them. Some have reached before us on foot. 
My God!  So much poverty again….and these (manyattas) –their houses are so very small.  The small village consists of about 10 manyattas.  These manyattas are made of a mixture of mud, water and cow dung. The roof is made of thatch and dry straw reeds, and they are very low. You have to bend to get in.
All of them want me to visit their homes, and one almost drags me to one of these manyattas to see where they live. I have to bend my head and even body to get in there, and there is mud and dirty water in the entrance.
It is very dark inside and you can barely see anything.  There is just one small opening in the whole manyatta, about 2 feet X 6 inches.  The woman welcomes me in her little house, and she offers me some milk.  I deny very politely, and she insists, but I continue denying.  I cannot stay more than 5 or 6 minutes and I badly need some fresh air.
Then there is another woman who insists that she shows me her ill husband.  She drives me where this very old man is seated on a chair in the sun. Many flies are flying all around and I just hate it. I am scared of mosquitoes as well, and I want to disappear that instant moment, so I ask that we leave.
In the meantime, other women have already placed pieces of cloth on the ground and placed on them some souvenirs for us to buy. They are the traditional bracelets made of beats and also necklaces but I am so tired and not in a mood of buying at all.  I am already exhausted and seeing all these flies around I badly need to disappear from this place.
A woman places a bracelet on my wrist, and another woman places another bracelet on the wrist of Yianni.  Mine is extremely big for my hand.  They insist that we buy something but the more we stay here the more I get frustrated by the flies and demand that we leave immediately. 
I promise though to see them again soon, but I already start having second thoughts about ever visiting this place again. 
The Massai people are expecting us in another village the following days and they have arranged another welcoming party again.  By the time we leave the place we are so exhausted that I ask that we can avoid the party and instead visit the Massai school one of the following days.
I feel sad because I have taken so many videos and photos earlier that there is no space for more photos to be taken from the Massai village.
So, the end of a full and interesting day. We have to cover a distance of 60 kms to the house where we stay in very bad and dusty roads…..roads that I have never been in my whole life.  By the time we return we are tired, exhausted but feeling good.
I really want to visit this school again and this time we are going to distribute food.

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littlekate on

Popi, that's impressing! I'd never imagine anything like this. And all the impressions are so genuine! And the whole story is very comforting - my place is not the worst on Earth!

corinneconley on

One thing I picked up on was their smiling faces while they ate. My aunt once asked me if it is sad to see people living in poverty and I answered no because it always surprises me how happy they are in their situation. A plate full of food merits celebration! on

Popi,this a very impressive job,you have really done something for the people to see.This people look very diversity.We are all united with at all cost to make this earth a better place to live.

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