Reiservaring Kenia (Dagboek) - Ontmoeting met de Weeskinderen!

As we rattle across the tarmac on our way further up the coast from Kilifi to Malindi, there is again much to take in. Long rows of palm trees flank us on both sides and signal the proximity of the coastline. On the side of the road there are plenty of spontaneously erected market stands and their colorful pyramids of red onions, tomatoes and coconut shells. The landscape is rich with lush green forestry, playing host to the few vervet monkeys that can be spotted from the van. Reaching further North, we eventually trail off the smooth asphalt and onto a rocky dirt road. The long, wildly winding track takes us past the community’s many stick-and-clay houses, thick bramble bushes and immense brick-red insect hill that must have taken decades of collaborative construction by enormous termite colonies. Finally, the vehicle comes to a sighing rest next to a small compound. The metal gate proudly presents its name in colorful letters: ‘Heart Children’s Home’. Home for the coming weeks. Upon entering, we are enthusiastically received by the group of children living within. They excitedly crowd around us, quickly offering their small hands for initial introductions and trying to get a good view of these new faces. Heart orphanage was started in 2005 by Mama Lucy, an incredibly warm-hearted African mama, who has given up her life for the home and these kids. It currently hosts around 24 children, each without living parents or with those that are able to take care of them. The orphanage consists of a large concrete building, facing a sizeable front garden. The yard mostly consists of dry sand and coral rocks, with a fire pit in the back, used for burning trash, and a large tree up front, offering a large area of shade to those sitting outside. The house is split up into three areas, one hosting the boys unit, the second that of the girls, and the third functioning as a guesthouse. Each of the house compartments has a verandah looking out onto the court, one of which is used as the house’s kitchen. It all has a very welcoming African feel to it. Heart has two ‘Aunties’ as fixed employees. One, mama Betty, is a kind and timid Kikuyu, placed in charge of cooking, a considerable task in itself for 24 children three times a day. Prior to each meal, mama Betty will shuffle towards me quietly and, after having called my attention, would pause for several ruminative moments, staring down at the floor, before softly enquiring whether I would like to take my breakfast, lunch or supper. The other, aunty Suzan, is a tall slender woman, hired to take on the administrative and logistical tasks and assist the children with their studies. As a former teacher, her English is good, but because of her extreme soft-spokenness, this is usually lost on her listeners. What is particularly nice about the orphanage is the fact that the children are spread out over a wide age range. There is Lydia, just over two years old, with an adorable pearl-white smile and a stubborn attitude. There is Furaha, an 11 year old girl with a beautiful complexion, who is somewhat shy towards others, but loves being in social settings. Then there is Steve, 18 years of age and therefore no longer officially residing at the orphanage. Having just finished his primary and secondary education he comes across as a bright one. He aspires to study both medicine and law at Uni coming years, and seems to be a real entrepreneur at heart. The next few days I will try to spend getting closer to the kids and setting up something of a plan, so as to get a better idea of what we can achieve here during our short stay. But before I make the plunge, we head over to Watamu, yet another tropical coastal town, to prepare for a Kenyan New Year’s celebration…

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