Zuri Watoto Wote

Nyumbani Village–the first few days…magical, and more to come

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Kenya, Nyumbani by Lynn Ouellette on 02/03/2012

We are here at Nyumbani Village! This is the place that I feel is most challenging to describe in words; the place that has brought me closest to the profound tragedy and  heartache of Kenyan lives that is not so rare here as I have listentened to personal stories,  yet has also lifted me to a magical, spiritual place that is beyond word as I have been surrounded by children singing and dancing traditional song with drums and incredible spirit and joy under the moonlit and star-filled Kenya sky.

The journey here was about four hours through major roads, small towns and then more rural areas. It was interesting sight seeing for beautiful landscape

Scenery on the way To Nyumbany Village in Kitui

and even some animal sitings–zebras, giraffes and more………..

When we first arrived at the Village we met with representatives from the different departments.  First a bit about the Village itself. You may recall that the Village is a place that is pretty independent and the goal is to become fully self sustainable. Here orphans are matched with grandparents in a home–10 children to one grandparent who may have one ior two bilogical grandparents. Homes are very rustic made out of bricks oin the village property from the Kenyan clay. Four home are arranged around a common area to form a cluster housing a total of forty children and 4 grandparents. Currently construction is under way for Cluster 25 and there are 895 children living in the village.

THe Village has a home care program with social workers who also do outreach to the community, a counselling center, a medical clinic which also serves the surrounding community, a primary school, a high school, a church and more. We met with representatives from all of these and then had a tour of the current sustainability projects which are just fascinating and so creative. The major obstacle here is lack of reliable water and there are many ways that they have addressed that including building sand dams to trap the water when there are rains. They have a solar powered drip irrigation for the gardens and have a 10 year plan for planting Melia trees which have a 10 year maturation cycle and can be harvested for sale or building furniture. (see www.Trees4children.org) They are also producing bio-gas from cow manure to power the stove in the kitchen and have just begun an aquaponics program–growing Tilapia in a tank and running the water through several garden beds and recollecting it to both water the beds and filter the water to return it to thr fishtanks clean.

The Village is physically very pretty with overarching trees and sepia colored houses. There are always Susu’s and children bustling around in brightly colored clothing sporting huge smiles and exuberant welcomes and in the case of the Susu’s specila Kikambe handshakes, greetings and dances usually followed by burst of laughter.

Nyumbani Village

There are many opportunities to be of service in the village. There are always more hands needed in the sustainability program and there are several ongoing projects such as the KEST Memory Book being created for the Susus’s. Every grandparent in the village is being interviewed about their life and a book will be created of their history along with the life of their family now. The next step will be incorporating art from the children which is planned for next January—just one of the ways I am being beckoned back to help next year. There is also the Young Ambassadors Program begun by KEST to focus on Leadership, Citizenship and other Values. Since Kristen is a nurse she has been very warmly welcomed into the workings of the medical clinic.

Medical staff at Nyumbani Village-- yeah Kristen!

I have been working with Lillian, the Village psychologist, whom I met 2 years ago, who has had clients lined up for me waiting to see me. These have included people from the community, older adolescents from the Village and even staff from the Village. She refers to them as her “extreme cases” that she feels she needs to ask for assistance. I have felt honored to be entrusted with many incredible and tragic stories but also touched that I can really make a difference here. I have seen one young man a clear psychotic illness who very seriously needs medication treatment and oh, what gyrations we have had to go through to make that happen, but it will happen and that will really change things for him. For the psychiatrists among my readers, one pill of generic Zyprexa costs about 65 cents here! BTW, Lillian’s case load is 895 children, 90+ grandparents, over 100 staff and 70+ members of the community. I am the only volunteer she has—I need some recruits!!!!!

Lillian, the Village psychologist, and me

Lynn and Walter have spent time in sustainability and Walter has been thrilled to spend time at the Lawson High School since he is a private school principal and educator, Deb is continuing her work doing the interviews with the Susus accompanied by the social worker from home care and Lynne has joined her in the process. I have spent much of my time in the counseling office but have done a number of other things too. I made my way over to the food containers for the weekly food distribution and got to mingle with the Susus—something that will always put a smile on your face.

Susu's of Nyumbani Village

Just walking around the village there is much of village life to soak up and savor. The children are adorable. There are no toys here other than the ones they create or happen to find!

A creative toy of a bicycle rim from the Village children. They struck this pose when I asked for a picture.

Nyumbani Village children playing with a big tortoise

On Tuesday evening we did home visits at 2 clusters under the magnificent moonlit and starry sky that is like no other here. The day was very hot but the night had cooled down and there was a nice breeze. We were all gathered as the children from the 4 houses sang and sang and danced and danced for us—this was one of the most magical moment in the village I have ever experienced—one that reaches deep into your bones. I am posted two videos—you will see very little as it was quite hard to record in such low light. So you will only get glimpses here and there, but you will hear everything just as we did—I hope can use your imagination to take you under the beautiful Kenyan sky too.

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