Our trip to Kenya and the warm welcome to Kitengela was an experience of a life time! It is our 3rd day here in Nairobi and this morning we are driving off to Kitengela to visit for the first time the Orphans of the School Academy. The village is only 30 km away but it takes us more than 2 hours to reach the school because of traffic and the very bad condition of the earth road.

In an attempt to give the real picture, imagine the earth road from one end to the other in deep hollows every 10 to 15 inches. Inside the 4×4 Jeep Jack is driving slowly yet we swing from one side to the other, going up and down every other second with our heads at times touching the bonnet of the car. In the meantime, there is so much dust in the already polluted area and the Jeep leaves behind a cloud of dust in the air. The worst is when we come across other cars or trucks that leave behind fumes plus dust. A hell in one word.

Kitengela has four Cement Factories and the entire area is polluted. While still in the car we see a policeman in short distance, standing in the middle of the earth road in the outskirts of the village, next to a paper bag. When we approach we see a leg of a dead child hanging out from it. We are speechless.

The Warm Welcome to Kitengela

The teachers who were expecting us had arranged a special welcoming with a full day’s program and children’s outdoor activities, dedicating this day exclusively to us. Upon reaching a neighbouring street of the school and still in the car, some students who were out in the street that moment start running as if to give the signal of our arrival. Jack parks the car and we step off when we see a flow of kids moving slowly towards us. They sing and dance on the way along with their teachers who accompany them.

We are along with Nicholas this morning, the other member of the family we are staying with. He is the one who urged me in the first place to visit Kenya. He says that this is their way of welcoming us. There is a joyful atmosphere in the air, huge smiles, dancing and lots of singing. We join in and in the same mood, with songs and dancing we walk all the way back to school where more people with the headmaster and the priest are expecting us. From a distance I notice that the teachers have arranged that we have comfortable seats and they have out sofas and armchairs in red velvet which are coved by huge white covers. It is obvious that the pieces of furniture have been brought out here from somebody’s house.

What a warm welcoming this is! Nicholas undertakes to introduce us to the headmaster, teachers and the priest. They are very happy and pleased to have us with them and the headmaster gives a short speech first, then it is our turn to say a few things. My husband starts first and I follow. I introduce myself and tell them in detail about the purpose of our trip. I am so moved seeing the struggle the teachers make to educate these students who are orphans having lost their parents some years back fighting for liberation or because of HIV and Aids. With this first visit I am sure we have given them some hope today and there will be more to follow.

The Warm Welcome to Kitengela

When I am through with the speech the headmaster shows up with two gold in colour ribbons similar to those years back used to decorate Christmas trees. He places the ribbons around our neck as a symbol of honour.

A small break follows where I announce that we have brought candies to share so everyone takes a seat and with the help of teachers we go around to share them starting first from the school children.  The teachers and all adults who are around expect their own equal share as well. I have never seen so many happy faces in my life, never got so many ‘thank you’ in so little time. So many smiles, sparkling eyes and shining from happiness faces.

By the time we finish with the candies, printed leaflets are handed to us that indicate this day’s school activities. Students recited for us, they even performed a small sketch and there was lots of singing and dancing. The students played games out in the schoolyard and it was obvious from their frequent giggles that they were having fun.

It was late afternoon and time to say goodbye to students, teachers and everyone who was present there that day. We thanked them all, and arranged to return to the school again the day after and drove off with mixed feelings. Happy for the warm welcoming and the great time we spent at the school but extremely sad to see the condition of the Orphan’s Academy but sad also from the poverty we see around.

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