Watoto Wote Wazuri

Much more after I left….

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Nyumbani, Our Kenyan Family, Responding to poverty in Kenya, Tuko Pamoja by Lynn Ouellette on 02/14/2016

This year in Kenya I was the first of the volunteers to leave, ambivalently, reluctantly, but headed home to my own life and responsibilities that beckoned me there. I left knowing that some of the work would continue, donation money would be well spent, and more good would come after my departure.

Because of very generous donors we were able to address many needs in the communities we visit and for the Kenyan people we love. Although I was leaving, I knew that my remaining donation money was in good hands and that it would reach its fullest possible potential with Justus at the helm of seeking out bargains that could only be accessed by someone local, someone Kenyan, our favorite Kenyan. Before I departed we pooled the rest of our donation money and divvied it up to go towards various projects. Our last night at the Nyumbani Village guest house, we gathered in the open sitting area, fatigued though happily satisfied with our time there. Drinking wine out of water bottles (the only possible glasses) and eating a dinner of our remaining healthy and not so healthy snacks, we counted money and packed it into envelopes designated for different causes. We had already been able to purchase 200 sets of sheets and blankets for Nyumbani Village, but in doing so learned that the need for mattresses was even greater. So mattresses, with plastic covers for the younger children became the object of one of the envelopes of money. Though we had purchased sports equipment, uniforms were still to be purchased, uniforms that would instill pride and identity by including the Nyumbani name written on them. And we had been communicating with Philip of PCDA, despite our various technological problems with phones, computers and internet, regarding shoes for the Maasai school children. This was another envelope of donation funds dedicated to a real need. This was my final night in the Village and I had one more day in Kenya, the wonderful day we spent with Justus’s family.

After I departed, and while I was settling into life back at home, recovering from travel and jet lag, those volunteers still left in Kenya, along with Justus were busy at work doing other things. Deb and Karen headed to Talitha Kum, another orphanage, but before that,  Deb purchased baby clothes to be donated to the maternity unit mothers and babies at St. Joseph’s. Since Lloydie stayed in the Nairobi area, she got to deliver those in a final visit there.

IMG_6963 (1)
Sisters  at St. Joseph’s delighted to receive newborn clothes from KEST traveler Deb DeArmon!

She also got to visit with the spirited nuns, Sisters Rhoda and Ida. I wonder if there were any more stories of the Pope’s visit?! While at St. Joseph’s, she also met with a women’s self help group there, one that is just getting started, and could benefit from some Tuko Pamoja wisdom.

Wonderful, inspiring women, love 'em all!
Wonderful, inspiring women, love them all!

She and Justus did some major shopping and arranged for mattresses to be delivered to Nyumbani Village. I wish I could have been there when they arrived since it looks like it was a major event!

Thanks to Raphael, the Village Director for sending photos along with a huge and heartfelt thank you that I am passing on to my donors.Thanks to Justus for scouting out the best prices and doing the leg work! The sports uniforms had to be printed with the Nyumbani name so had not yet been brought to Nyumbani Village before everyone departed. But Lloydie enlisted the help of the children at the Children’s Home to model some of them for photos!

I really wish I had been around when the Maasai children of PCDA got their new shoes, but Lloydie has sent me very many great pictures so that I could share the process and the delight.

James and Eunice who helped us buy 91 pairs of shoes and socks.  They received a very nice tip!
James and Eunice who helped us buy 91 pairs of shoes and socks. They received a very nice tip!

I think Justus had a good time!

Out with the old, in with the new!

How happy are they to have new shoes!

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Happy Kids!

I had to restrain myself to keep from posting all 248 photos of smiling children with shiny new shoes! But I think you can get the feeling of how happy they were and how much  of a difference this made for them. Next year….they really need new school uniforms!!

Lloydie wrote to me about all the things that she continued to do after I departed,  while Deb and Karen were at Tabitha Kum and after they departed. She had not slowed down one bit (no surprise to all who know her!) She went with Charles, Lucy’s brother, both of whom grew up in Nyumbani Village and visited Charles’s school for which she is sponsoring him. He is training in the hospitality business which should afford him a job in the future. They also got to celebrate his birthday.

She also met with Nicholas Syano, former Director at Nyumbani Village, and Joseph Lentunyio, former Sustainability Director at Nyumbani Village, who have teamed together to help teach communities permaculture farming techniques. A future plan is being made for them to come to PCDA to teach the women and children how to farm crops that are hearty in their environment. And stage 2 of the PCDA water program funded by Woods Academy in Bethesda will include water accessible for farming!

There is so much more work that was done, but yet still so much more that could be done. You can already see some of the goals for next year taking shape and including replacing all the mattresses in Nyumbani Village over time, getting new school uniforms for the PCDA kids who clothes don’t hold a shine to their new shoes. We would like to support the Maternity Unit at St. Joseph’s more–more baby clothes and I am researching an incubator update. Karen is working to have a micro finance program to help the people that Nyumbani serves through the Lea Toto Program.  We always end up with more new ideas, projects to pursue, work to be done our next time in Kenya.  Never do we leave with our hearts not feeling full for the work we have done, the people with whom we have connected, the relationships with our Kenyan family and a profound love of Kenya and all that she holds.


– A poem by Bridget Dore, dedicated to Madiba (Nelson Mandela)

Africa smiled a little

When you left.

“We know you,” Africa said,

“We have seen and watched you,

We can learn to live without you,

But We know

We needn’t yet.”

And Africa smiled a little

When you left.

“You cannot leave Africa,” Africa said.

“It is always with you,

There inside your head.

Our rivers run in currents

In the swirl of your thumbprints;

Our drumbeats

Counting out your pulse,

Our coastline,

The silhouette of your soul.”

So Africa smiled a little

When you left.

“We are in you,” Africa said.

“You have not left us, yet.”

© Bridget Dore

We all get teary each time we read this as its sentiments  apply to how we feel about Kenya and the roots we have grown there.


7 Responses

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  1. Lloydie said, on 02/14/2016 at 5:56 pm

    What a Valentine’s Day gift you just gave to all of your blog friends! This posting was heartfelt and moving, just like all of the rest, and yet the poem really touched me in a special way. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to tell the end of the story… for now! This January trip was one of great accomplishment and generous giving by donors and you captured the essence of our journey perfectly in your blogs. And your photos literally take my breath away… My family and I will forever be eternally grateful! Rock on, Lynn Ouellette!


  2. Sharon Tardiff said, on 02/14/2016 at 6:03 pm

    Hello. Nothing like a new pair of shoes and something nice to sleep on. I am ashamed of myself for wanting material things thinking it will make me happy. Seeing pictures of these children happy without much and look at them smiling. I know they don’t smile all the time and they have such hardships to deal with. Thanks for the update and sorry you couldn’t have stayed longer to help. Hope you post more pictures of your trip. And thank you all for making a big difference in their lives. Sincerely, Sharon


    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 02/15/2016 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you Sharon. I appreciate all your comments. The blog serves a number of purposes in my mind. Part is to expose people to different culture and a different part of the world, to be able to see it and experience it vicariously, both the joys and the problems. Part is to chronicle the work so that donors can see their money in action and the ways in which it makes a differences or other people. And part is to give us all some perspective on the things for which we can be grateful, even though they are commonplace to us here in the US. There is a lot of joy encountered in this work, but also there is the reality of profound hardship. You have noticed and commented on all of these and I have appreciated your comments. Thanks for reading!


  3. Anne said, on 02/15/2016 at 9:24 am

    Lynn, I’m not sure how I found this page (maybe through Tom?) but I’ve so enjoyed reading about your trips to Kenya and all of the great work that you are doing there. My daughter traveled to Kenya this past summer to work and teach in a small village near Kitale. She fell in love with Western Kenya and with Africa in general. Thanks for sharing (and for the work that you do).

    Anne Gallagher Dixon (Bowdoin class of ’78, classmate of Tom’s)


    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 02/15/2016 at 1:38 pm

      Thanks Anne. I’m glad that your daughter got to experience Africa too. It powerful and gets into your heart. Happy to hear that you have enjoyed the blog and hearing about the piece of Africa that has taken us in!


  4. Barbara Dallas Sutton said, on 02/15/2016 at 11:19 am

    Great to see the fruits of your many efforts on many levels. Your photo, labeled “Out with the old, in with the new” tells a powerful story. Thanks to your donors, Lynn, for funding the new shoes. It’s amazing how much your group accomplishes in such a short time in Kenya, though I know lots of thought and energy goes into it throughout the whole year. Thanks to you, Lynn, and to all who have been adopted into your Kenyan family.


    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 02/15/2016 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you Barbara. You are such a dedicated reader of my blog and I always appreciate your comments because I can tell that you take it all in and experience the work with us!


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