Lete maji ya kutumia kwa choo
Trip Start Feb 19, 2009
16Trip End May 19, 2009
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Where I stayed
Grandsons of Abraham
Well not sure where to begin; have now spent 3 full days at the Orphanage and it's tough; a mixture of emotions that leave you feeling elated, deflated, humbled, troubled, spoilt, incredibly lucky, incredibly sad, you find yourself crying because you feel so touched and warmed by the boys incredible journeys to find this place and how happy they are now, to crying through sheer bloody frustration that their Government do sweet FAl!
I can't begin to describe these great boys; its too soon and they are still so wary of me, but the old toys I brought with me from England (Mark - your old beaten up little cars have helped enormously) have gone down a treat; the centre itself is quite modern by Kenyan standards of Orphanages; thanks to the support of so many European volunteers and sponsors they have running water (we (Europeans) can't drink it but the locals have built up their own immunity to bacteria that still exists in the water; I cleaned my teeth with it the other night and ninahara (diarrhoea) set it within a few hours
In Kenya the estimated population is about 32 million with an estimated 50% below the age of 18. I'm told that there are about 750,000 street children in Kenya with over 100,000 in Nairobi and Mombasa alone. (If you consider that Mombasa is approx the same size as Exeter; with thousands of shanty suburbs surrounding it - this gives you some idea of what you see on the street every 200 yards). A lot of the these kids are second or third generation street children and they are tough and I mean tough; they don't sniff glue because they like it; they sniff cheap glue because it starves of hunger and they can sleep in a ditch and NOT give a toss about being physically abused by the gangs that give them glue for a few shillings for begging off of tourists. The number of children on the streets is still increasing and the political unrest last year at the elections has caused many, many problems for those few organisations that are trying so hard to help these poor kids; the North of Kenya is mostly suffering and thousands are now going hungry where pre elections at least the Government hadn't raised the cost of maize - for 40 shillings a family could survive on maize and mangos for 2 days; since the elections tax on maize has gone through the roof; it now costs 120 shillings (1.20p) for the same quantity. This Government sold off 67% of the Country's Maize to Sudan and surrounding countries last year - now these people struggle terribly; that maize was supposed to feed them! But, I'm heartened by news of Professor Philip Alston's work as a UN Special Reporter for Human Rights; it looks like the UN are now on the Government's tail and it is making a lot of publicity out here at the moment with calls for resignations of many very very senior officials.
Anyway; enough about all of that - and would be good for me to keep it low key - all this stuff is widely reported (but apparently not very much in the UK or US!!)
I'll fill you in on more about the boys and the work that I'm trying to do out here over the weekend when i have a little more time; but its now nearly 8pm; have been up since before 5am and am filthy and I mean filthy dirty; my clothes are mostly stuck to anything that touches skin - wash my hair every day and the water runs brown due to the dust and car/lorry fumes
Two of the boys from Grandsons gave this account to the Sisters last year - guess which one survived and which one is buried in Khalini!
"My mother, a domestic worker, died
when I was just five years old. My father is also dead - I only ever saw him
for a few weeks, when I was very young.
For the first ten years of my life,
my granny and auntie raised me.
I only did two years at school.
no longer support me. I had to fend for myself in the city, and that's when the
streets of Mombasa became my home.
I stayed in one
particular corner for five years - quite different from most other street
children, who tend to move around a lot more.
streets are awash with alcohol and drugs - especially cannabis or 'dagga'. A
lot of the street children are raped, nearly all of them by older boys or men
who have drunk too much.
are no rules - we did exactly as we pleased
still have the scars here.
I'd sell fruit and vegetables at a local market. The Indians who ran it would
give me food or clothes, and sometimes a bit of money.
I never got into hard drugs or glue - I tended to stick to tobacco and
Sometimes, I had to steal just to
survive. In November last year I was arrested and sent to a holding centre for
children and young people awaiting trial.
After four months there, my case was
I didn't arrive there in very good
shape. My skin is still badly scarred from malnutrition, and I had lice.
After a couple of months here, I
think I have settled down. I think the routine and discipline are good for me,
and I want to learn.
What I would like most of all would
be to see my brother and sister. Like many of the boys here, I long to have a
family of my own".
"My mother is a prostitute, a drug
addict and an alcoholic.
One of my earliest memories is of
her hitting my head so hard against a wall that I now have a plate at the back
of my head.
I have never known my father. My two
brothers have different fathers. I was in two different children's homes until
I was 12. After that, I lived almost everywhere you'd think of - with my
granny, my aunties, the streets, shelters. I was constantly on the move.
At 18, I was crippled in my hands
and feet, due to sniffing glue. The vast majority of us did it. I went to yet
another home, where they sent me for hospital treatment. Although they managed
to straighten my fingers, I still struggle to lift my feet.
When I was 20, I was looking in
dustbins for food in a shopping centre. I was arrested for shoplifting, and
spent eight months in prison before my case was thrown out. The project took me in I'd be dead otherwise.
My dream is to be a childcare worker someday but
I don't hold out too much hope".
John died last month!
Makes shitty reading doesn't it!!
Till tomorrow take care Axx