#30 I Learn the History of Mji Wa Neema August 9, 2015
I had thought most of the older ones would leave early, but they were enjoying each other’s company so much, almost no one left until after 6. At that I had to shoo Cyrus and Kantai to return to Nairobi. These kids love being together and no one wanted to leave, but now most have either gone back to school or to grandmothers for the vacation. Some of the high schoolers are staying for 2 more days of “Math with Margo”. I know they stayed up late last night, because Josephat came in for math help, but I noticed he was falling asleep over a particularly gnarly question. When I admitted he had gone to bed at 2 the previous night, I sent him off to bed, to return tomorrow after he’s had some sleep. Crazy kids!
I had a visit today from Mithlet, who has almost completed her double major in business and project management at Strathmore, a very posh private university. I met her in 2006 when she was in form 3 at Ndingi (before it became all boys). She did very well on the KCSE but had no funds for going on. Fr Kiriti gave her a job in the Catholic bookstore, but she was unable to save anything like what university would cost. Eventually, after Kenya Help had built St. Francis, so there was more money for scholarships, we chose to sponsor her to university. She has had to fend for herself and for her niece for a long time. She’s smart and she’s street smart – a great person and I was glad to see her.
Later my door was knocked by Simon Mungai, parish council chairman, friend of Mji Wa Neema, math teacher and good friend. While we chatted, Julia brought over a gentleman to introduce to both of us, Anthony Ngaruiya, who turned out to be one of the founding members of the children’s home. We chatted for maybe 20 minutes, during which time he told me the home was begun in 2003, with Cyrus and brother David Wekesa the first children. They had been living in the streets after the mother died. Cyrus was 11 and David was 8 or 9. There had been great antipathy initially for a children’s home in the parish, so they had to seek funding from outside the parish and even abroad. Only when the people saw that funding was available did some begin to see the importance of the project. Of course now there are only 2 in primary school, the rest coming here only for holidays, generally staying a few days before going to their guardians.
Anthony is a very loving man, who emanates passion for the children and for the home. He told me he had eventually had to move away from it because he wanted to marry and start a family and he couldn’t do both. By the time I began living at the home, he was no longer much in the picture. We had not met before today and I knew nothing about the beginning of it.
He then went off to meet with Julia and the kids and I returned to Harry Potter, book 7. I could hear lots of chatter and laughter coming from the dining hall and eventually Anthony came to ask me to take this picture.
- Bottom row: John Durango, Simon, Evans, Cyrus, small Mary.
- Row 2: Selina, Kantai, Anthony, Magdalene, Patrick, Julia, Lucas, Joyce, Tabitha.
- Row 3: Josephat, Margaret, David Kamau, Joseph, Evelyn, Big Mary, Esther and Cynthia.
Whew! I did it. It took me years to learn all the names!
I’ve just heard from Cyrus who is still not home at 9:15 pm, having left here after 6. Evidently there is a major traffic jam in Nairobi. Anxiously waiting to hear he and Kantai have each arrived safely.