Zuri Watoto Wote

The Weekend at Nyumbani Children’s Home

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Kenya, Nyumbani by Lynn Ouellette on 01/23/2012

We spent our first weekend in Kenya at Nyumbani Children’s Home, the orphanage for children who are HIV+. We began the weekend by meeting with Sister Mary, the Executive Director of Nyumbani , who updated us on the Children’s Home as well as the other Nyumbani Programs, Lea Toto clinics in the impoverished communities around Nairobi and Nyumbani Village in Kitui. We learned that the programs now serve over 4000 children and in the case of Lea Toto, their families are receiving services as well. The children in the Children’s Home continue to thrive although 2 children had developed resistance to antiretroviral medications (ARV’s). In the past these children would have died but she was able to petition to get special permission to purchase the drugs for these children from outside the country as only first and second line drugs are available in Kenya. The major happening in the orphanage now is that there are 14 children looking for acceptance in to high schools. All are tuition based boarding schools in Kenya and acceptance is based solely on standardized test scores. Since some of the children have had periods of being unhealthy or difficult starts they don’t all score very well, so this is a time of high anxiety for them.  We also toured the Nyumbani  Diagnostic Laboratory which is a new freestanding facility and much larger than the small laboratory which Nyumbani previously had. There they do the most advanced HIV testing in all the country and provide services to a wide range of other organizations and facilities. BTW, Nyumbani was the first site of HIV testing in Kenya and the first AIDS orphanage in Kenya.  I could say a lot more but on to the children………

The children greeted us with squeals and smiles and hugs and magnificent welcomes that were so heartwarming!

Lloydie with 2 Nyumbani kids

I have not been here for two years so one thing I really noticed was how some of the children have really grown! There are lots of names and faces to remember so I couldn’t remember them all, but was particularly surprised to see the growth in the little ones—some of whom you will recognize from my blog posts in 2010. I was amazed when one little boy who was in the ST Paul Miki Preschool the last time I was here remembered that I had taken his picture. And there are some new little ones as well.

Dolo, the little charnmer from cottage E

Baby Sharon

Innocent--remember him?!

The older children are genuinely kind and helpful to the younger ones.

Each of the volunteers was assigned a host cottage to spend time with including the children and the cottage mother. This meant hanging out with the children and seeing how the “family” (14 children and 2 Mommas) runs, having lunch with them, spending play time and getting to know them.  I was particularly charmed by a spunky pint sized 3 year old, the youngest in my cottage,  with a big personality, named Dolo. We will be back next weekend to spend some more time with them. And by popular demand I did another round of face painting which was so much fun! We also went to church with them on Sunday—Kenyan style with joyous drumming, singing, clapping and dancing. We also heard stories from the cottage mothers as well as other staff about some of the newer children and how sick they were when they arrived – some could not walk or talk and now they are racing around on scooters in the playground. You can’t help but think every once in a while that all of these beautiful children who are lively, thriving, very affectionate, little people would have died if it were not for the care they are receiving here. When you stand back and watch all this life around you it can move you to tears.

Lloydie and one of the boys from her cottage

I have some great video–you can get a peek at Dolo’s personality, experience mass at the Children’s Home and more, but I’m having some technical problems posting it. Check back later.  Kwaheri marafiki!

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