Woke early, silence – thinking about the day ahead. Lots to do – painting, PE leasons and interviews.
We all meet for breakfast – pancakes and toast. The group have now gelled, and are at ease in each other’s company. Sharon talks of Grassroots and the needs in different countries. A group prayer and George arrives. We pack the van with an assortment of clothes and pencils to take to Good Neighbours.
Out onto the road, busy streets, shops full with people. We stop for drinks and an extension cable. On to Theta -the road is long. We pass a funeral procession of 6 vans full to bursting. The herse is a black van. People on motorbikes in front and behind. No health and safety here. 3-4 to a bike. People wave and hold their thumbs up to us. We arrive.
There are parents and guardians waiting for us, and once again the children are happy and excited to see us. Sharon and George speak to the families in a gentle and yet authoritive way, explaining the work of Grassroots. Sophie and Elsbeth take a group of 60 children for an art lesson – chaotic, fun time with the children. 4 of us are to interview, but everyone has an important part to play. We work with interpreters, story after story, life upon life. Some are more resilient that others. Most just grateful that we are here. The time went quickly and we had spoken to everyone we needed to for the day.
The women and men were so honest and I am left wondering how they feel opening their hearts and lives to complete strangers. It must be the hope for a better start for their children. We eat and then time for PE and painting. Laurence leads. Ruth and I follow up the rear with a crowd of children. They are fascinated with the feel of our skin and hair. It does me good to know what it feels like to be in a minority. Although here almost everyone we meet has a smile and a handshake so you cannot feel like an outsider. So many handshakes. Rounders and football, the sky begins to darken. I speak to Laurence he says the children say its a dust cloud. Personally I don’t think that dust clouds have drops of water in them. The dropplets become more persistant, so we begin to move back.
As we walk I teach the children “it’s raining, it’s pouring”. They pick things up so quickly.
On our return, the children run to their classrooms. The group stands under the overhang, and watch the incredibly dusty rain-drops fall from the roof. The rain gets heavier, and so we move inside. The intensity increases. And the corrigated roof promote nature to play a symphony. It is dark and damp, but the Kenyans call the rain ‘Baraka’ (A blessing). One of the teachers tells Ruth that we have brought the rain with us – he calls us blessings. It hasn’t rained for 4 months and not forecast until at least October.
After an hour Sharon asks for a group decision – shall we go slowly as the road will be slippy and it will soon be dark – or shall we stay? We all decide to go. The rain sits on the dirt and it becomes an ice rink. George drives very slowly. We take different roads to the normal. We turn and see a van in front of us some way in the distance. George pulls to the side, bad mistake. Sharon, Miv, Laurence, Elsbeth and I get out. Adrian stays with Ruth and Sophie – he says its for traction! I think its because he loves his shoes. The mud is so deep, we sink. Men begin to arrive to help to push. We have ideas about how to move. Too many cooks, Sharon, Miv, Elsbeth and I walk. Squelch, squelch, we keep going. Tiny frogs jump in the grass, enjoying their first bath of the season.We pay the men who have helped. Back onto the road. The van picks us up, slip slip slide. Out again, Laurence, Nicholas, and I – brute force and ignorance – the van moves.
In and home, chatting to Nicholas about the trains and his learning. Never have gates look so inviting. The calm after the storm, to twist a well known phrase. We shower and wash the mud from our feet, warm, safe, clean. I think of the children and families we have left behind, and wonder how many, if any, can feel the same.
38 new children were taken onto the sponsorship scheme today. All of them are desperately in need of help. Most of them are hungry.
It is not easy listening to the stories. Your prayers are very much appreciated. We still have many more to interview and it would make the task so much easier if it was not raining!