Monday morning we were up and out early. There were a few stops to make before we headed towards Gathaithi School for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. We had to check out of the Methodist Guest House as we will be spending the evening in Embu at the Panesic Hotel.
After an adventurous drive, we eventually arrived at Gathaithi School just before noon. Both JoAnne and Donna were flabbergasted to see the motorcycles being driven with chesterfields on the back – I think they didn’t believe Rita and I when we told them it really does happen. But lo and behold they saw it with their own two eyes, not once but twice!… And the second time, as we passed, they noticed that between the driver and the sofa were also two coffee tables! The roadside scenery was similar to previous year’s visits, but for someone who has never witnessed a couch on a motorbike, or a cow or a goat or a donkey grazing along the side of the road, or somebody doing their laundry in the roadside creek…. It is all new, and all part of the adventure.
Once we had finally arrived at Gathaithi, we were (as usual) welcomed with open arms. Manager Patricia escorted us and some others into her office to sit and chat a bit. We discussed the many things that have happened over the past year and shared in their excitement for the future.
They had one cow when we visited in January of 2016; she is now the proud mother of a calf and they are happy to be able to use the milk in the kitchen for daily purposes. All of their ducks and chickens are prospering, allowing them to collect eggs on a daily basis, meaning they have not had to purchase them offsite all year. In the past they have purchased their water from the community, however this option has become quite costly and frankly not sustainable for them any longer causing them great grief in trying to maintain a large enough food supply for the children. Really it has become prohibitive to watering their crops and using the greenhouse to its fullest potential. This explains why their biggest and most joyful announcement was that “Living Water International” has helped them to prepare a grant application and they successfully received funds from American General Electric which has enabled them to drill their own well. They have also received a cash donation to purchase the pumps required to use the well and are hoping in the near future to have the well fully functional and providing their water supplies. The cost of community water has become too much for them to handle and so to be able to have their own well was most joyful. The manager and staff at Gathaithi are such hard workers and have such positive attitudes their ultimate dream is that once the well is up and functional they will be able to bottle and sell their own water, making this another bonus, once again proving sustainability.
The school actually educates close to 700 students and so the school is very active. There are 20 sheltered children, 10 boys and 10 girls – who live onsite at all times; 87 outreach, meaning they live at home but require some assistance from the school for food and care; 34 orphans who live with a family member or guardian that the school helps to support any way that they can; 53 vulnerable children, who may be at risk, have a close connection with social worker Joseph who works full time at Gathaithi.
As the children, who are supported by Our Kenyan Kids gathered in the dining hall, Rita, Donna and JoAnne pulled the hockey bag full of school supplies and toys from the van and prepared to show the children all the wonderful things we had brought with us today. Much to our surprise, they actually remembered us from last year! We handed out soccer balls, frisbees. skipping ropes, pencils, pens, crayons, colouring books, notepads and blank books. The children were all absolutely thrilled!
We had a quick tour of a few of the classrooms, always grinning at their fascination with the colour of our skin and desire to touch us! Someone actually said to us yesterday, “You muzungus (white people) all look alike!” …. The laughter was contagious – you see…. We really are all alike; we even face the same issues!
We visited the kitchen where Millicent prepared us a scrumptious lunch, played a wee bit with the children before they had to return to class and then discussed the many trials and tribulations that lay ahead and how we can continue to work together to help them achieve their goals.
With the help of OKKids and the generous donations of people just like YOU, we can help them to achieve their goals.