Saturday, July 2, 2011
#7 2011 New Residents at Mji Wa Neema Children’s Home
Not only have I been up to my ears in activities, which I hope to share over the next weeks, but also had a hard time with #6 for some reason. I hope you got it.
I’m getting acquainted with the 2 newest additions to the children’s home. Their story is so sad, but alas, all too frequent here.
Lucas (8?) and Joseph (5?) were children of an HIV + single mom. Their father disappeared when he learned the mother was positive. From what Jecinta (sw) has told me she was a loving mother, not one to be promiscuous, so was probably infected by the father. The mother was in denial and refused to take the ARV’s. It’s hard to imagine, b/c they are quite effective and free in Kenya. Jecinta. who gets reports from people regarding problems in the parish, found the 2 brothers sitting with their dying mother, no food in the house and all alone. She fed them and stayed with them until the mother was gone, then brought them to Mji was Neema. She searched far and wide for relatives but came up blank.
For more than a month her body lay unclaimed in the morgue, until Lucas asked, “When will my mother be buried?” There was no one to take that on, so eventually the parish paid for it. Burials are expensive here and I think they had a small harrambe (fund raiser) to help with the cost.
He boys are adjusting, but Joseph cries a lot. He needs his mother’s hugs and lap. It’s good that he has Lucas, but it must be very hard to be the oldest in such times. BTW, both boys were in the “cleaning the floor” episode and having a great time.
When Fr Kiriti first came to Naivasha in 2004, he made a decision not to accept any more children, but to find extended family members to take in orphans. If they were unable to support more children, the parish would provide funds to help. He believes children do best in a family environment. Sometimes this is true and sometimes the additions are seen as a burden, neglected, made to work, not sent to school etc. Jecinta does her best to monitor situations, but the issue of HIV orphans is overwhelming. Judy and I agree that life at Mji Wa Neema is about as good as life in an orphanage could be. However, no new children have been added since new-born Toleo (aka Mercy) was found at the parish gates in 2005. The children have bonded and while they are not at all mean, it’s hard to fit in to those bonds.
I might note that the Kenyan government policy regarding orphans is now the same as Fr Kiriti’s belief—namely that children are better off in families. While I don’t disagree with the concept, I see how the children here are flourishing. In the past week some of the older children have come home from high school for a short break. I saw the greetings of Cyrus, Daniel and one of the Davids, so warm and loving. They shook like men and hugged like brothers, clearly so happy to be together again.
Yesterday I went to SFG to pick up Esther, Magdalene, Selina and Cynthia for a special dispensation to join the other kids for a Judy-organized outing. They were so excited to be home and to see all their brothers and sisters—yes, they do feel that relationship. They adore Julia (matron) and Agnes (asst) and immediately pitch in to help. They’ve learned from the get-go that everyone helps.
I hope Judy will have time to write about their outing before she leaves tomorrow to return. She goes to Montreal to visit her brother and then to a family reunion of her 5 children and all the grandchildren. She was given money by supporters of her work with Jecinta (sw) to do lots of things, one being an outing for the children, this time to the National Park in Nakuru. Honestly I wouldn’t have the energy to manage all she does, like getting busses, finding costs, planning food and organizing a trip. Too many children, not all sitting at neatly-rowed desks, running around like children are wont to do, make me very uncomfortable. I need a certain degree of order!
I have been to the National Park several times. It is huge, and full of many African animals, living in a very natural way. Cars and busses drive slowly along the well-rutted roads and along the shore of Lake Nakuru, home to uncountable many pink flamingos. This picture was taken several years ago.
Judy’s previous trips with the children have been to Nairobi to the museum and the cultural center and on her last visit, to Lake Naivasha for a boat ride to see the hippos. She has also taken them 2 at a time to buy new shoes—the only new ones they get. If they outgrow, they get refurbished shoes. Those children will remember Judy and her kindness and love for the rest of their lives. What a gift she has been to those children and to so many others in this area!