Saturday, January 23, 2010

Girls are fun too!

I often am accused of spending more time with the boys than I do with the girls. When I hear that, I feel badly..but, I have to admit that it is the truth. Not because I love the girls any less. It is just that I knew the boys first and mostly because they learned to speak English before the girls did. It is so much easier to spend time with them because we can communicate easily.But, I decided that this trip, that I would make a concerted effort to make sure that my time was equally divided amongst all of the kids.

Little Alice at the front door of Oasis of Hope's girls' home.

So, on Wednesday evening, I arrived at the Oasis Girls’ Home at 4 in the afternoon to join them for supper carrying “juice” and biscuits as my contribution to the meal. The girls’ home is located in Shimo La Tewa, which is located about 2 miles from my house in Milimani. It was pouring rain as I arrived in my taxi. The girls’ house mom, Rebecca ran outside with an umbrella in hand to greet me and escort me into their tidy home.

At that time of day, only the youngest girls are home. The girls in class 6 and above were still at school. While I prefer spending time with small groups of kids- unfortunately this group of girls had very little in the way of English speaking skills. But happily, I had brought along a game that was one of my favorites as a child: Candy Land. As I knew that they would, the girls loved the game immediately and the rules were easily understood without much language required.For some reason, Sarah was particularly lucky and won the first 3 games!

Clockwise: Alice, Janet, Sarah, Christine and Helen playing Candy Land

Ajix, Christine and Dorcas challenged me to a game. I lost!

As we played , word got out that Mama Lydia was in the neighborhood and soon a group of 5 neighbor children arrived. Three of the kids are regular attendees at the Oasis of Hope- pretty sisters Jennifer and Selena and cute Lucy (a great favorite of many of the Saddleback college kids who were here last summer). Lucy brought along two of her siblings: Erika (5) and baby Peter. These are the 3 remaining children from a family that already has 4 children (Patrick, Ajix, Christine and Irene) being assisted by Oasis either in one of our group homes or in boarding school.

Me, with the 5 visiting children

Unfortunately, the parents of this family are unable to provide a stable home environment. The mother brews the local brew, Changaa, which she sells and drinks herself and sometimes shockingly feeds to her baby! The father, also a drinker, does not have regular work and is unable to provide sufficient food , clothing and care for his family. We try to help as much as we can, and I predict that the remaining children will eventually make their way to the care of Oasis as they become a bit older. I can only pray that these parents stop producing children!

Sweet tiny at 5 years old.

But despite their difficult living situation, these children are playful and often smiling. It is hard for Americans to understand that children can be allowed to live like this… and it took me a long time to be able to visit families such as these without breaking down in tears. As hard as it is, I have come to believe that they are under God’s protection and that He has a plan for their lives. I can only pray that more people will open their hearts to Oasis and that with increased regular funding, we can help more children like these to have better lives.

From the back: Selena, Lucy, Peter and Erika

The older girls began to make their way home…Dorcas and Rael returning first; followed by the class 8 girls; Centrine and Nancy. It was now 6 pm and they had arrived at school at 7 that morning. The Kenyan school system is so much more rigorous - both in quality and quantity of education than is ours in America.

Gorgeous Centrine...just home from school- ready to change out of her uniform.

The first order of business is to change out of uniforms into ‘home clothes’ and then to inquire as to whether Rebecca needed their assistance preparing the evening meal: chapatti, rice, green grams (mung beans) , and meat stew. The older girls helped and I kept the youger girls (Sarah, Helen, Alice, Ajix, Janet, and Christine) occupied taking photos, dancing and playing Candy Land. In the past year and a half since I have been here - the girls have grown comfortable with their home and have developed very distinct and charming personalities. They are often quiet when in a mixed group with the boys - whose strong personalities tend to dominate. But, when alone with each other - they are hilarious!

Janet , so quiet when she moved in a few years ago - now has one of the boldest personalities in the girls' house.

Helen...after a fit of giggles!

Tomboyish Christine (Amlango) doing gymnastic moves on her bed. a rare serious moment.

We once feared that Alice-so small and sickly- wouldn't live to see 7. Today, although still tiny- she is healthy and in possession of a quirky personality.

Supper was delicious as it always is at the girls home. I have to laugh because unlike at the boys’ house- the girls always offer me hot water to wash my hands before eating and they do the same. The boys just dig right in dirty hands and all. Boys!!!

We finished our meal by dividing up the biscuits (cookies) and with a few more songs and dances. The girls taught me some new steps..and I think kept up pretty well although I am not blessed with the skill nor the natural rhythm that they possess! Promptly at 8, my taxi arrived and I hugged them all and promised to return next Wednesday.

Beautiful Ajix teaching me some dance steps!

Those girls are so much fun. I can't wait to return next week. I think I will bring along Chutes and Ladders!