#29 The Young Folks of Mji Wa Neema Have a Reunion!!!! Saturday, August 8, 2015
This has been such a day! Julia began planning this reunion weeks ago and the members began to arrive last night. Note I am no longer referring to them as children. I’ll use members for lack of a better term. I chose it because they all feel they are members of a very large family.
It was planned as a lunch because some could not stay the night and at 1:30 we all gathered in the dining hall. There were 22 in attendance of the original 35. Some post-high schoolers were unable to leave from school because they are “on attachment” or are having exams, some have grown and married, some have been adopted, and one has died. Nonetheless the room was so full of youthful energy I’m not sure the roof could have remained attached if many more had been here. Of course Fr. Kiriti had to be here—he is “Dad” to all of them. We had a wonderful meal, cooked by those who had arrived early—rice, chicken, spaghetti noodles, greens.
Julia in left foreground, Cynthia, Patrick, Esther, Fr. K, Cyrus (oldest) and Joseph (youngest).
One of the most important persons was not here—Judy! Judy Murphy is a high school friend of mine, a retired social worker who has come to Naivasha 6. Her presence is felt all over this home. She tirelessly raised funds to refurbish the dining hall, the girls living quarters, the boys dorm and the kitchen plus the erection of a security wall and the repair a slide, a teeter-totter (still in use) and a swing set. She has truly been the grandmother to all these children, although they call both of us sho sho. The other missing person was Jecinta, social worker for the parish for 10 years, with supervision of Mji Wa Neema being a major part of her responsibility. She died in November, 2013 and is still greatly missed.
(Kantai gives me a big hug) This is Patrick and Esther on the left, Cyrus and Joseph on right
There were many speeches, first by Fr. Kiriti, who cares so much about their success in the future and for the 9 years he was parish priest, he was at the home almost daily, talking to the kids, urging them to work hard, disciplining when necessary and generally being father, while Julia has been an incredible mother to them all. And the members all love them both so much. If one must be an orphan, this is the place to be it!
I had had copies made of pix Judy and I made 3 years ago. We took a picture of every child with the 2 of us. This was because Fr. Kiriti once told me he has no pictures of himself as a child or even an adolescent. We wanted to be sure they had some pictures of themselves. Judy had somehow found a picture of all of them taken in about 2004, when they were all very young. She sent enough copies for each member to have one. The laughs, screams, hoots, and general joy was worth every cent she spent. They loved getting those pix! Thank you, Judy. I’d include it here, except I don’t have a copy on my computer.
After lunch there was a picture taking orgy, all the cell phones plus 50 on my camera, from which I must choose a few to try to convey how much fun they all had. You could feel the bonds among them as they tease, hug, hassle, share, and just connect as young people do. One member has not been back for 4 years and the kids went out of their way to make him feel welcome. He was planning to leave this evening, but the kids would not hear of that. He must stay for the weekend.
Below is the new family photo, but missing are David Wekesa, who has a weekend job in Nairobi, Monica who is in nursing school, David Mungai who is in med school, Ruth and Beth, whom Julia could not contact
Julia called us all back into the dining hall for a meeting after all the picture taking. She asked me to speak and among other things, I told them how much Judy and I love them and what a privilege it has been for us to be their aunties/grandmothers. Some of them still have grandmothers, although the grandmothers are not able to care for them. But they still see Judy and me in that role.
Each person made an appreciation to the rest, telling how glad they were to be together again, how much they loved each one, thanked me, thanked Julia and especially sent their love to Judy. Then they decided to establish an organization to ensure they would always get together at regular intervals. As long as any are in school it must be August, because that’s when high school (and many universities) are closed. Cyrus was selected as chairperson, Cynthia as secretary and organizer and David Kamau as the 3rd person on this committee. They even decided to form a “welfare circle”, although the high schoolers are exempt because they would have no money to contribute.
Cyrus is the oldest (first born), a position which carries a great deal of prestige as well as responsibility. Taking responsibility for 35 siblings is no small undertaking, but I could see him accepting his place, rising to the occasion. Time will tell whether they continue to meet, but if today’s event is any indication, I will bet they will always be close.