# 22 Mji Wa Neema Reunion

Hard-working men prepare the fire.  Wekesa, Patrick, Josephat, Antony, Evans, Joseph.

Soon after, charcoal was added to make coals on which they roasted the sheep.  In the meantime Antony, one of the founders of Mji, held forth, man-to-man.  The boys were not just respectful, but very appreciative of the advice they gave him.  Without Fr. Kiriti in the parish the boys have not had a man to talk to them.  Hillary does counsel them, but he’s not a whole lot older than they are.

I don’t think I can describe how the day has been, except to say that everywhere the kids are talking to each other, teasing, playing games, just enjoying being a family.  I’ve tried to get pictures and while they will give you some idea, they can’t truly convey the energy and fun.

Simon washes the porch while Selinah supervises!  Every day the walkways are splashed with water and swept.  Usually it is seen as women’s work, but at Mji, the boys have had to pitch in as well.  They all know how to cook and clean

Evelyn and Esther make chapattis.   It’s a long process, first make the dough and let it sit.  It has no yeast, so doesn’t rise.  Form into ball, roll out.  They know how to make them perfectly round.  Cook, one at a time on a slightly concave cast iron pan, turning by hand (they must have asbestos fingers!)  For over 30 people, they probably made close to 100.

This is Tabitha (aka Mokami) and a friend preparing stew.  Mokami is cutting the very last wisps of meat from the sheep bone, while the friend is pounding garlic into a pulp.  They are on the other side of the kitchen wall from where the chapattis are being made.

Margaret and Lucas stand in the dining room at the pass-through window from the kitchen.  Cynthia and Kamau (in white hoodie) wait for filled dinner plates to put on the table.  As is the custom, most of the roasted sheep was eaten before we even sat down for our meal.  For our dinner, we had chicken, a mutton stew, with rice pilaf, chapattis and coleslaw (thanks to Kate, for setting me straight on the spelling—duh!)  The tables were all pushed together so we were one big group, over 30 of us, all chatting, teasing, eating, laughing—being together as family.

No Kenyan event is complete without a speech and this was no different.  I talked about the job each of them needs to complete, namely doing their very best in school, not only to ensure the best possible future, but also to let our donors know their gifts have been well spent.  Most of them are working hard, but a few are slackers.  I introduced that term and noted they knew who the slackers are and so do I!!!  (school marm stare over the top of glasses).  I pointed out some who have had outstanding academic results.  “Each one of them made a decision at some point that he or she wanted to achieve a goal, be it doctor, lawyer, engineer, or whatever.  The rest of you need to made that decision too.  You don’t have a family to carry you.  You each need to be self-supporting and a contributing member of the community.  The way to achieve that is through school!!!”

Cyrus, as eldest brother also talked at length.  Even though he is one of them, all respect his position as eldest and listen.  It’s so interesting to see how that works.  Fr. Kiriti told me once that in his family of 8 boys and 2 girls, he (5th born) is the go-to person when someone in the family has a need, but the eldest (surviving) brother has all the authority.  He’s the eldest, whether or not he is the wisest.

We were pretty stuffed after that meal, so agreed to meet at 8 for cake and ice cream.  At the appointed hour, I brought out the cake, still in its box and said a few words about it’s being a special day for someone who had finished her schooling and it’s……(bringing out the cake) RUTH who has completed her training.  She was stunned!!!  Flabergasted.

Totally surprised.  Her mouth flew open, she covered her face, as kids do sometimes when overwhelmed, then she ran from the room, but came right back and beamed.  The kids all cheered her and clapped.  It was perfect and she couldn’t have been happier.

The custom here is that the honored guest takes a platter of cake pieces and feeds each person who has honored her.  It took a few minutes for her to process what was to be done, but then she really got into it!  After each guest is fed, the honoree is fed by several guests.  Sometimes they make the pieces too big and it gets to be a mess, but the kids did it so well.  You can see how happy she was.  This morning, (now it’s Sunday) she brought me a very sweet thank you note.

Below, Ruth is feeding Lucas, with Simon standing, John in the red hat, Tylon wrapped in the blanket and Evans.

This is Mungai feeding Ruth.

Later we Skyped with Judy.  The kids were so happy to see her and at first bunched around the computer.  Later they each sat to have a personal word with her.  Judy has always been a big favorite.  She was the one who organized great outings for them.  They will always remember her.

Marion takes her turn talking to Judy while her sister, Jecinta finishes the last bit of ice cream.  Joseph’s hat is too big.  Cynthia, Josephat and Ruth are behind, awaiting their turn.

It was such a good day!  My fear is it will be the last one here, unless the prospects for Mji change

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