DAY 1 at the MAISHA orphanage was amazing!
We drove from St. Anna’s guesthouse in Kano, Kenya for about 20mins and came to a place where there were a bunch of shacks on the street side that were “restaurants”. People bought food from these places but they were clearly not what we would think of as restaurants in the USA. We got off the main street, drove between these shacks and started taking the dirt roads into the interior village. The minute our vans started off on the dirt roads, I remember saying to myself “Hello Kenya.” It was humble, yet very beautiful =) I loved seeing this part of the world we live in, in all of her authentic beauty. As we drove, children would run right up to the edge of the dirt road and greet us in their native language, their beautiful smiles and wave at us. The team was divided into two and took two small vans to get to MAISHA. After 20mins of driving on the dirt roads that were bumpy, we reached a place where the dirt roads took us right to the entrance of the MAISHA orphanage. About a 100 feet from the MAISHA orphanage, we could see the widows walking towards us, singing and dancing. A feeling of awe washed all over me. If I were to close my eyes and just listen, I would say, “These are the sounds of Africa.” A few seconds later the van came to a halt, we stepped out of the van and were greeted with hugs by all the widows. They sang and took us to the orphanage where the crescendo of my happiness was about to meet me; the little babies.
Till now we were just walking towards the orphanage. At the sight of the babies we all, meaning the widows and the team, came to a stop. We were now audience to a group of about 20 little babies that maybe averaged 7 years of age. They started singing for us. Enough said. Yeah sure these widows and children live in poverty in a third world country, but when I stood by them sharing the same earth, listening to them talk to my team, watching them smile and laugh, I saw God in them, I really did. I saw the image and likeness of our Creator in them. I didn’t feel distant from them anymore. They weren’t just a face on a postcard asking for donations, they were brothers, sisters and mothers; they were now family. After a few songs, we all clapped for them and then they took us into the MAISHA building.
Beatrice Williamson, the founder of MAISHA gave us a quick tour of the double storied building that housed a computer center, two classrooms (one on the top floor and one on the bottom), a women’s career development room and a dining room.
I want to especially thank the Future Of A Child donors who helped with the building of the classroom on the first floor, helped with funding the furniture that’s in one of the classrooms and also Mustang Public Schools for allowing a book drive that brought in over 1500 books for these babies. A few more of these books still need to be brought over to Kenya.
After a tour of the building, we came to the room where the widows and the children were waiting for us. They sang and danced for us. At one point our whole team got up to dance with the widows. It was beautiful! Oh people, we got down! lol I also want to take a moment to say, that I personally feel the people of Kenya speak beautiful english. Later in the day this thought was reinforced when the students who attend the higher grades in schools in the surrounding areas came home to their orphanage and interacted with me, asking about America, where I was from etc. I was also told that after MAISHA started, the children that were housed in the orphanage were very positively responding to the teaching of the English language. These children are very smart. They quickly pick up on how to use the English language. When I got to hang out with a few of them, I asked them what they wanted to be later in life. Doctor, teacher, meteorologist, so on and so forth was the list. Isn’t it awesome to see how MAISHA has raised the bar for these children? They are trying to break the cycle of poverty by the breaking the way these children think.
After the opening ceremonies and some time interacting with the little ones, meeting them and getting to know them, we had a satisfying lunch =) As lunch was wrapping up we could hear and see the signs of incoming rain. The sun was now hidden in the clouds, thunder was rumbling in the distance, and I could see the rain far off by the distant mountain ranges that were a backdrop to the green fields being cultivated for agriculture by MAISHA. Mother nature struts her stuff in all her beauty here I tell you. Sometimes you have to pause, to take it all in. A few minutes later, we decided to call it day 1 and head back to the guesthouse…
On the way back we stopped at what they call a “Masai Market”, a group of small shacks where small to large authentic Kenyan things were sold. They had hand made jewelry, to paintings, to music instruments etc etc., where we got to do some window shopping, buying, and bargaining. After about 45mins there, we drove back to the St. Anna’s guesthouse.
Oh and it’s just the beginning…Stay tuned!