It’s proving quite difficult to find time to write this, although that really is a good thing. Rachel has been writing hers a bit so I’m going to steal some of hers for descriptions and such like (**). I can’t see who is reading this and none of you comment so I hope it’s not just a pointless waste of time…
We went in a big group to one of the Kenyan volunteers’ church. It was an archetypal happy clappy African church, which I could only describe as my home church with the volume turned up x100! The preachers were insane. After that we were supposed to be being picked up by Ishmael (who is the man that runs Kingdom Kids (street boy’s home) where we are living) but he was almost 3 hours late!!! So we were just lolling around Sooper guest house thinking we would be spending 2 months cleaning Sooper. When he finally did arrive, in his banged up Suzuki, a big group of street boys came over to speak to him cos they all know him and in fact they love him! We had to put our bags on the top and the boys went to scavenge some string to tie them up. We went on the VERY VERY BUMPY road to Kibos (the village is about 30 minutes from town and feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere) and as we got close it started to pour down. ** our car pulled into the gates of Kingdom Kids I’m pretty sure I do not just speak for myself when I say that I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not really sure what I had expected but it was not a huge house with an amazing green garden in the front; complete with bushes sporting orange flowers, a palm tree and a basketball court! As we entered we were greeted by some of the boys, the slightly tense atmosphere soon broken by games of draughts (bottle caps and draughts of course) and being taught how to munch on real sugar cane. (I’ll take a quick moment to divert and relish in the memory of my first sugar cane- it’s like a lollypop but REAL and so juicy you cant help but get very very messy!- I don’t think ill ever look at sugar in the same way) Anyway as more of the boys filtered into the house we gradually managed to work out there were 12 (now 13) between the ages of 10-21. The house is a large sitting area with sofas and chairs, open plan into a massive table area where we all eat dinner. There is a hatch through to the kitchen where food is prepared on a little fire (basically a bbq without grill) in the middle of the floor- and water taken out of a massive pot. The house mother- Mebu, the man who runs Kingdom Kids (Ishmael) and the boys all have rooms along a corridor and ours is in the middle. **
Mebu is amazing! She is just so warm and friendly and she really likes having the female company- can you imagine just living with 14 boys!! It really didn’t take long to feel comfortable around her and now we can tease each other and just laugh about anything. Like yesterday I was giving her a hard time because the potatoes went mushy because she had neglected them to watch a Mexican soap opera (apparently I look like Paloma, the main character, as all the village children shout Paloma Paloma how are you?? All the time lol) but anyway she was just cracking up. Honestly I’m so thankful to have her here because she is such a mother figure.
Ishmael is out a lot of the time but he is essentially just reeeeealllly cool. He obviously really has a heart for the boys (you would have to devote yourself entirely to them) and he just has such banter with them. In fact, he is one of the best people I’ve ever met. He’s only 35 too!!
The boys were so hyper on the first few days, asking us 1000 questions about literally any random crap and it was just exhausting!! Here are the boys in more or less age order.
1. Kevin- is the oldest and has been in the home the longest and is soon starting university to study criminology. He speaks the best English and is clearly like an older brother to the boys.
2. Peter (with the chain) - is from Mombassa, really doesn’t speak much English but he has an amazing laugh but he does make an effort to talk to us and be around us.
3. Nice Peter – This one is my favourite. He’s 16 and has lost a leg so he’s on crutches. He has such an amazing and beautiful face and smile and is really good to talk to. He’s so sweet and funny, like as soon as he gets hungry (which is a lot) he looks as miserable as sin and acts like he’s dying but after he’s eaten he’s so happy!
4. James (Shaban)- He is one of the older and more confident of the boys. He has a major crush on me and is constantly like “ATIENO!” “ATIENO!“ (This is my Luo (tribal) name which means born at night). At first I didn’t really like him but now I really do. He’s just one of those boys with a hard exterior but just underneath he’s unconfident and just wants affection.
5. Wycliffe – speaks good English and is really nice and outgoing.
6. Joseph Obongo – He barely speaks any language and can be really aggressive. He was majorly addicted to glue and really messed up his body and he’s covered in scars. He likes me and we fight and play but I do have to be like “Obongo STOP!” or else I’ll be covered in bruises.
7. Felix and Peter - took a bit longer to warm to us but both are just a bit shy but it’s partially cos English is bad.
8. Clay Lucas – He is s sweet but he’s been really sick with Malaria and is only just starting to get better.
9. Emmanuel- is really sweet and speaks great English. He speaks really quietly and asks a million questions all the time. He’s also very camp!
10. Dadi – He was seriously abused by his mother and as a result is psychologically disturbed. He boards at a special school but he came back during our first week. I’ve been trying to apply some Speech Therapy stuff on him, he responds really well to intensive interaction (where I just copy his faces and noises and make loads of eye contact). It’s good he’s here and the boys generally look out for him but sometimes they’re harsh so I tell them off!
11. Rogers- is 12 but he’s absolutely tiny and really cheeky. He can’t decide if he wants Glori or me to be his girlfriend so he tries to make us jealous of the other which is hysterical.
12. Benton (Micheal Jackshon) – is so funny and such a character. He insists on speaking to us in slow, loud, clear Luo.
**We are in a ‘town’ (???) called Kibos- I say ‘town’ because I’m not so sure whether to call it a town or not. Kingdom Kids is up the road from a market area, there is a church further on and some houses dotted around- but imaging the furthest thing in your mind from a town and that’s probably it. I now know the meaning of the word rural- it means its normal if your walking to school next to a goat/chicken/cow, share your bathroom with a giant frog and bed with a glow worm.**
Glori, Rach and I are sharing a small room which amazingly has a wait for it…..WESTERN TOILET!!