Zuri Watoto Wote

More on Nyumbani Village–that special place

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Kenya, KEST Women4Women, Nyumbani by Lynn Ouellette on 02/04/2012

Kristen playing with Village children outside our lodging in the early evening

We have had a wonderful experience at Nyumbani Village with the children, the staff, the Susu’s; everyone we have come in contact with has been welcoming, grateful, and incredibly warm towards us. There are many complimentary things that we can say about the Kenyan people, but one trait that seems to characterize all of those whom we have met which is especially true in the Village is that they speak in such an unhibited way that is genuinely from the heart. It is very touching  and something that I wish we could see more at home.

Our days have been busy with activities but there has always been a little unstructured time just to walk around the village and take in the beautiful surroundings or chat and play with children who are always out and about in the evening. The younger children are often out gathering firewood and carrying big piles of kindling.

Village boy gathering kindlking

Children picking and offering to share berries

These children love to have their pictures taken. There are many joyous, smiling and laughing faces and a natural tendency to hold hands or put their arms over each other’s shoulders, but there are some soulful faces too that often make me wonder what they are thinking because I know that they have experienced a lot of loss already in their young lives.

They also love to look at their pictures

Kids here love to have their pictures taken!

Some of their faces are so compelling....

Children on their way back from the primary school

Children go to school at 7AM and arrive before the teacher to do homework and go home around 5 to eat dinner. All but the younger students go back to school in the evening to have a self quided homework session and the hugh school student go back to school for the same purpose on Saturday. In addition to a lot of school hours they all participate in household chores and wash their own clothes and help take care of the younger children. Sunday is a day off with Church in the morning, but they also have mass once during the week. We attended the mass with the primary school children on Wednesday morning. It begins at 7AM with a massive migration of children in green school uniforms from the school to the church and is quite something to watch!

Village boys in church

 

I have really valued my time working in the counseling office seeing the clients from adolescents to staff to community members whom Lilian identified as needing further evaluation. People were remarkably open with me, I believe because they trust Lilian, and we were able to work as a team to create some interventions that I think will be very helpful. With Lilian being the only counselor for so many people and there being no other volunteers to assist her and no psychiatric services available I really felt useful as well as feeling the importance of not waiting two years to return again—I think I need to return next year. I have tremendous respect for all that Lilian handles. She is like a mother to every child in the Village and even to some of the adults. She recognizes that these children have all experienced such incredible loss that sometimes they just need to stop by her office to get a hug or to connect briefly. One such child, Mwende, is in this photo with Lilian who told me that she has a special attachment to her. She was working in the social work department when she went on a home rescue to get children to bring them back to the village. Mwende was just a baby and had so many sores all over body that she couldn’t pick up without carefully wrapping her first. Other family members told Lilian to leave her behind because she would only survive for a day or two, but she brought her back to the Villlage and they were able to save her and she is a thriving child now.

Lilian and Mwende

We had many opportunities to take in the Kambe cultures but none were better that those offered by the Susu’s themselves. They are an extremely outgoing group of women who always want to shake your hand or give you a hug as well as a very animated quiz on the appropriate Kikombe greeting—all before they start dancing with you . Most do not speak any English, but mange to communicate okay. All of them weave really beautiful baskets from which we shopped heartily. We had a special treat with them on Wednesday in the form of a special dancing session which was both a performance and a lesson. It was quite amazing to watch them dance since when you see them walking around the village they often look a little slow and as if they are showing their age. Once they start dancing, however, watch out!

Susu's dancing

You will have a much better appreciation for how they move in the video’s below:

After the dancing was done we had gifts for them: sweets, Nyumbani canvass bags, and Washinton D.C. AIDS Walk Tee shirts (KEST had a team in the walk and the AIDS clinic had donated the shirts tio bring to Kenya). All, but especially the shirts were a big hit! lloydie also explained about the Women4Women Initiative and how that will included selling their baskets and they were quite excited about that.

Susu's wearing their AIDS walk shirts

Yes, they ALL really loved their shirts

We also met with the Current Young Ambassadors and ran an activity for them. Our final two days, and especially our final evening in the Village were quite the finale. The internet connection at the Village has been extremely slow and unpredictable making blogging a challenge though it seems only fitting in a way since technology is so foreign there. I am going to save the finale at the Village for the next post since it was especially wonderful and the goodbyes were certainly bittersweet.

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