Helping in Kenya was one of the highlights of our world trip. We worked for over a week at the Namayiana Children’s Home in the Maasailand of Kenya. The home was started by Gloria and Scott Scharton of Littleton and their organization, Kenya Kidz. Gloria is a teacher at Wilder Elementary where Jane and Maggie attend school. Wilder has supported the Center for several years, helping with investments in playground equipment and a well and water system.
The home is located near the village of Olosho-Oibor in Maasailand, about two hours of Nairobi.
The Maasai are one of the nomadic herding tribes in East Africa. In earlier times, they herded cattle all across southern and central Kenya. This has largely stopped due to the creation of large game reserves and development of modern roads and cities.
But the Maasai continue to hold on to their distinct culture in dress and customs.
We were blessed to be able to visit and to stay at the home of Mama Sheila, whose property houses the children’s home. It was a fun experience for our family to live without running water, stable electricity, or wifi communication. Having said that, it is amazing how resourceful Mama Sheila and her son and family are. They use solar cells to power lights and cell phones. And we learned from them how to make a bucket of water go a long way.
We took bucket baths each night. The food prepared by Agnes and Lillian at Mama Shiela’s was wonderful – fresh veggie dishes, rice, and chapati.
We had a deeply meaningful and joyous time there. I worked on installing a water system from the borehole well to the center and to the school. Malia and the girls helped in the center. The girls especially liked helping with the washing. In the afternoons, we played with the kids at the children’s center.
They all liked to braid Jane’s hair. Jane showed great tolerance and patience with this.
Installing the water system required us to use a car battery and inverter to power the welder. We ran over 100 feet of piping and many minutes of waiting for the welder to heat up between welds.
It was a great reminder of the difficulty of development in a place without power and infrastructure. Later we ran new piping up the water tank and created a valve assembly to feed the water across the property.
We were happy to be around just to help. We loved the way that the whole compound – Simi’s house, the center, Mama’s house, and the school all just buzzed with life - everyone helping each other. When we drained the tank, it turned into an impromptu water dance party for some of the kids.
I can say with clarity that it is definitely not a vanity project for well-meaning people. It is a tough place to live and to eke out a living .
We loved the early morning bird song in the scrub thorns and the late evening sunset over the center. But in the middle of the day, we felt how hard it is to wring out a life in that dry land. The cultural and political and societal challenges are immense.
But the home feels very much like a blessed community. We hope to return someday.