Early Friday morning Mama Mary ,Victor, Carolyn and I plus others boarded the Omwabini bus for an eight hour ride to the Kurea Community of Kenya that is home to about 165 of Omwabini orphans. Some of the boys who stayed after the school year ended to take the Applied Technology course and to help with vehicle and equipment repairs joined us for the trip there to be with a relative/ guardian over Christmas until school starts again in January.
Frankly I wasn't too keen on an eight hour bus ride to go for a "meet and greet" but Mama Mary insisted that we join her for the excursion to meet and address the gardians of many of the children that stay at Omwabini.
Pastor Ed Chacha and his family served as our hosts for the two days. The Pastor, who was an orphan himself, has a big heart for the plight of the orphans in this community. To support his work as a Pastor his family also have a roadside mandazi stand and a small store.
Pastor's son and a friend serving up some delicious mandazis
The orphans from Kurea at Omwabini are an older group from Grade 7 and up to Gr 12. The younger orphans of that community remain with a guardian/relative and attend this school below.
Buildings that serve as the JK to Gr 6 classrooms
One of the classrooms
My address to the guardians was simply words of encouragement reminding them that we, with the help of our supporting community of friends and family in Canada, are here as volunteers to come alongside them and to support them as they reach out to care for and nurture the orphaned children of their relatives.
Mama addressed the group of guardians with a passionate testimony of how God had seen her through and provided for her in hard times when she became a widow of 4 young children and pregnant for her fifth. She identified with their challenges and encouraged them to rely on God's faithfulness during their tough times by doing the right thing. She then outlined the challenges faced by Omwabini with some firm words, "You are their guardian, these children are the children of a relative, your brother, sister. You must treat these children fairly and love them like your own, they need nurturing. Don't dump them off on us and shrug your responsibility. Omwabini will come along side to help. Take an interest in their progress.Share some of your resources with them as you do with your own children. Don't treat them as a second class family member. You pay school and uniform fees for your own children, do the same for the orphan children you leave with Omwabini. Contribute to their support. If you don't treat them fairly as your own, they become bitter and disconnected and Omwabini has to deal with bitter, angry and undisciplined students. Omwabini did have a very short list of orphans who would not be welcomed back because of their destructive behavior. The high school principal/teacher and the vice -principal/teacher joined us for the excursion and addressed the group as well.
Gathering of orphan/guardians at our meeting
The Kurea community which is located very near the Tanzanian border is a very beautiful area of lush green rolling hills but also a community with a fairly high illiteracy rate among the adults.
Our late night drive back to Omwabini was a bit more adventurous that we had hoped for. About half way back shifting gears became nearly impossible so Victor pulled into a gas station parking lot so we could investigate. After crawling under the bus and using the beam of cell phone lights we were able to determine that the clutch was the source of our problems so we "camped out" in the bus for the night. Fortunately we were able to purchase replacement parts and repair the others. Victor, a student, and a mechanic friend removed the transmission and replaced the clutch in the parking lot and about six hours later we were back on the road.