I arrived in Nairobi on Saturday afternoon and the heat instantly hit me. The sun was shining, people were smiling and I was met by Dennis the driver who took me to Beatrice’ house in Karen. Her house is beautiful and tranquil and she is very respected in Nairobi.
On Sunday I spent the day exploring Nairobi with Dennis. He took me to an elephant and giraffe centre, and to contrast Karen with a poorer area we went to Karibu, one of the biggest slums in the world. The conditions were truly horrific, everything you see on TV was right in front of me. The absolute level of poverty shocked me.
I woke up on Monday morning nervous and ready for work. After breakfast Maryam would come with me to the orphanage every day then pick me up later in the day, which was great and eased my nerves. Transport in Kenya is like a rollercoaster ride.
Instantly as I walked through the gates of the orphanage I was greeted by children. They came up to me and shook my hand. Their kindness shocked me. I met the Director Madame, and went into her office where she welcomed me. She appointed Dalmas, a young child whose parents had died from HIV, as my guide and he helped me whenever I needed something. Over the next few days drew water from the well, prepared and served food, washed dishes and helped construct a new pavement in the orphanage.
I was so happy to be there and make a difference. On one day Dalmas asked me if I was tired because I had drawn water from the well for 20 minutes. I told him I’d die before I stopped drawing water for them.
Another day the children danced for me which was incredible. They have an amazing spirit even though they have nothing. I spent Christmas day with the children in the orphanage. Visitors brought crisps, sweets and food, and we played games. I’d brought half a suitcase full of tennis balls, skipping ropes, footballs, pens and pencils. The children loved them. They told me they hadn’t played football in months. We sang and danced and they prayed. They have strong belief in God and it helps them get through tough times.
By the last day I was making my own way to the orphanage. I didn’t feel in danger at all but I kept myself to myself and respected their culture. Throughout my time there I can honestly say there was not one negative event that I experienced. The toilets at the orphanage were grimy and they smelt bad, but I hardly used them. The food at the orphanage wasn’t enthralling – we peeled potatoes and made chips one day, another day they slaughtered a chicken, another day we had maize + beans. The food at Beatrice’ house was better. Maryam cooks different things every day.
I can honestly say it was worth every penny. I would definitely do another orphanage project with Outreach. Helping those kids was the most satisfying feeling in the world. You see things you never thought you’d see, and by giving the children your time, you are making the ultimate sacrifice because you are giving them something you will never get back.
Kenya is such a beautiful country and the people are amazing. The Kenya I saw was sincere, safe and friendly. If you are thinking about going, I have one piece of advice: DO IT!