Today started out uneventful as we did the usual 2 hour routine to get anywhere. We headed out to the hospital in Matunda, Kendal wanted to come along in case she was able to see a birth. Wen we got there no one in labor so we hung out in the prenatal and family planning clinic. She found it cool feeling babies in bellies, feeling for the head, assessing due dates and just learning all the prenatal details. The hospital wants me present at one birth; assist the second and then the third onward I am on my own. Well I am suppose to go back tomorrow but I told Francis I am not interested in doing prenatal visits and family planning needles so they can call his cell if a lady shows for labor and I will work on call. Kendall is all hyped for a birth so I’m sure she will get a birth fill before we go but I warned her that the African delivery methods could traumatize her in the future. Before we went home we spent some time in the other parts of the clinic. We were taken into the counselling and treatment room. Now, this is where they treat the Tuberculosis and hand out the HIV treatments. we with two other nurses just touring and we happen to stop in there and have a chat. Kendal was looking at the TB treatment pills and the ARV’s for HIV pills. asking about how many they treat and how babies get it from breast milk and of course the nurse tells us that HIV is very very low in breast milk and that babies don’t get it (this is the same nurse that told me this in July) I just shot Kendal a silent that is a BIG FAT LIE look. Then it gets better she said that TB even though we have the shot we can still get it and OH when you sit in the little crammed matatu and people have it you can catch it. I think at the same time me and Kendal said WHAT????????? the fear of death swarmed over that moment and she back tracks and goes oh don’t worry the windows are open hopefully and you don’t have to panic and cover your faces in the matatu. I said to her aren’t you scared to catch it here? and her answer… no God takes care of us. OHHHKAY THEN. We asked if there is a lot of TB cases and she said in the few hours this morning there were 9 just that day. 9? in this room? here? where we are? germs all over this stuff? OMG and sure enough we slowly back up and bolted out of the room.
This afternoon we watched as the new 1000L water tank and filter system was brought in. The kids were just mesmerized as a big truck brought it in and they had never seen anything like that come through the village. I was actually confused a little myself as to how the truck made it to the house.
There was an awesome moment where the kids were so thrilled to be eating rice today. They were all so happy and it’s amazing how you can see their energy and their spirits change over simple things. The funny thing rice really is not even that simple here. It really is a pure luxury. It’s expensive to feed it to them regularly; the cost of rice here is almost triple to that at home. So when they can eat it, I guess you can say it would be like how we look forward to an awesome pizza party.
We started the project of profiling children today in order to set them up for sponsorships. It’s a big task we have on our hands by taking each child’s picture, recording their family facts and history and then having the child write a hand written letter in English to their potential sponsor. Kendall has been so awesome in doing this work and getting them organized and she is really looking forward to the letter writing with them. Now, there are over 200 kids and do get just 20 done took two hours because some of these kids won’t even speak up. We set it up where Kendall was the photographer, I sat at table with Pamela, Pamela gave me the details, Pinny spoke to the child in Swahili and said say your name, how old are you (and not one child knew this info but we started with the youngest kids today) It was actually funny how some of the 4 year olds would say 10 yrs old. Pinny asked where is your mother or father and thats when it would be hard because the kids would go silent or they would point and say out there in swahili and Pamela said out there means their parents are dead an they don’t really understand. some kids were just so cute that we choose them to be our video kids. on the mini video clips of profiles we are doing. Some kids stories were so incredibly sad that Kendal would walk away to cry and I would have to drop my head and cry. There were many moments were we were like ok enough for one day I can’t listen to anymore.
The hardest thing, was when a child was asked about parents or brothers and sisters their face would change to a sullen painful stare, they would go silent and would not smile anymore. I have no clue how to put this in words but it’s almost like we know what happens here, we know these kids and many like them are orphans, we know parents die from malaria, typhoid, HIV Aids, whatever it is we just know that that is the harsh reality. However, today, I didn’t see the harsh reality as just a circumstance, what I saw were innocent kids. Kids like mine, like yours back home, innocent beautiful kids that are in extreme emotional pain. Except that pain does not get treated, there is no counselling, there is no therapist and they have never even spoken about it until we asked some questions today. When I see these kids outside in the yard I honestly see happy faces, singing, dancing and living a life amongst each other that seems full of joy and love. But I realized that this school orphanage that Pamela and Francis put together is what saves them emotionally as a group. Individually pulling them aside they were vulnerable children in desperate need of serious therapy. Again, another day where my emotions are just pulled, yanked and outright stripped from happy to see rice, happy to see kids play, to crying over individual stories and I actually feel that today I really saw the kid for the first time.
We had some other village drama tonight as well. A man had come over before dinner to see Pamela, Pamela is a teacher in the public school system and there was a child in grade 8 is 16. Her father had paid her school fees and she was registered with the government as a school child. One day in December she did not come home after school. She was kidnapped. A man twice her age snatched her and married her. He took her from the town and kept moving houses but eventually they found him. They want help getting the man arrested. So tomorrow, Pamela and the father are going to the chief of the village to get him to arrest the man and get the daughter back. they have to prove she was a registered chid at the school in order to validate the marriage as not legal or authorized. I know this sounds so sick and demented but unfortunately if he kidnapped her and claims to be married to her the chief can’t do anything. So Pamela pulled the school registration showing her fees paid for grade 8. Tomorrow they will get the girl, arrest the man and take the girl straight to Matunda clinic to have her tested for HIV and pregnancy. It’s just a horrible horrible story and the sadness and desperation in the father was just too much to look at.
At this point when the man left, We asked how this man could get away with this and she just looked unfazed and said men that are uneducated believe crazy things and they just do whatever they want. she then told us the story of their youngest daughter Perot. Perot is about 12 years old. She is the sweetest child ever, always hugging and saying thank you and welcome over and over. But there is something about Perot that you know might be wrong. Well we just found out that at 4 years old Perot was outside at the neighbours and there was a 26 year old man/boy. He started raping her and his mother came out and saw him raping her and screamed. Pamela said that the man is still around today and has never been arrested. Perot had suffered urinary tract problems growing up from it and has suffered severe trauma. I was in shock. I can’t believe this poor baby girl went through that. Perot suffers from attention disorder and will not go to school even at the orphan school. She literally just runs around all day just playing randomly almost like a 6 year old.
Me and Kendall have been talking about this lady we read about in the kenyan paper, she was 27 with three kids, her youngest was 1 month old. she wanted to go out and party and gave the one month old a sleeping pill. She left the house at 10pm returned at 4am and the baby was dead. She was charged with first degree, then man slaughter then they switched to probation and then they just let her go because there was no one to look after the other kids. LOL it’s awful the justice system here but we have been cracking jokes about that story the last few days in a mocking way about oh well that’s ok no big deal if you are able to go home from jail to watch your other kids after killing one.
One child we spoke to today, she is 6 years old named Elizabeth Moi, she is HIV positive. she lives with a guardian in the village. Both her parents died of HIV. When Pinny said can you say how many brothers and sisters you have she just stared and then all of a sudden covered her face and started bawling her eyes out! that was it for us. She was one of the kids that struck us in the heart and we cried our eyes out. This child needs help severely and she will never ever ever get it. She is alone with HIV 6 years old and lives with pain so deep that how can she ever have a normal life. How will any of these kids live a normal life, I don’t even mean first world normal, but here village normal. They are so many odds against them. Disease, poverty, food, family, they don’t have any of these basic things. I turned to Kendal and said OMG these kids desperately need therapy this is horrendous I can’t take another story. She was like THERAPY they can’t even deal with therapy cause they have to get up every day just think about survival. Then she said I can’t do another day of this. I just can’t. Everything is too much.
then there is Victor he is 7 years old. His father is extremely abusive and used to beat his mother badly, he was an alcoholic. His mother last year just could not handle it anymore and she hung herself. Victor watched her do it. Victors father never committed a crime so he is not in jail and Vitor still lives with him. We just stared at this child. and I mean stared. we were speechless! and then when Pamela said you can go now, HE SKIPPED BACK TO THE KIDS. and of course we cried.
This are only the stories of a few kids. There are 200 here. I am emotional writing this and I just can’t continue with anymore for one day. Please stay tuned. If any one of them tugs at your heart, well then you know how to help!
I will upload pics tomorrow.