We arrived in Nairobi just before midnight after the 8 hour flight from London and awoke to the humid and noisy neighbourhood of Kasarani where Happy Life Children’s Home is based.
For those new to Happy Life you can read more here – Five Ways You Can Help Us Change Lives This Holiday Period)
The children’s home is always busy and vibrant – with sixty children under the age of four, twenty of them infants below six months – there’s always something happening. For three of our seven years coming here we had been the only volunteers over Christmas, but this year we were in for a pleasant surprise. There are eleven volunteers over from Dubai from a church called the Fellowship – all ex-pat British. Two families from a group of thirty-six that visited Happy Life back in April coming back for another visit.
Their visit had proved very timely. A week before we arrived the library at Juja Farm burnt down (electrical fault) and the kids faced Christmas with a very depressing sight.
The team from Dubai leapt into action and not only renovated the damaged library but also overhauled one of the classrooms as well.
The end results were so good that the kids have asked that when the team comes back next year they’d like the other classrooms done!
To give the ‘mamas’ (the affectionate term for the female staff at the home) a break, the goal for the afternoon was to occupy the older toddlers.
What to do with fifteen toddlers on Christmas Day? Well, one of the Dubai team suggested taking them for ice cream – which may sound simple, but the mall is a substantial walk along the pedestrian unfriendly roads of Kasarani. We all took charge of one or two kids (I had Gideon and Emma) and headed out. Things went ok but we didn’t go down too well with the security guards at the mall when we staged an impromptu sit-in with the kids to eat their ice creams.
One particular complication was that for most of the kids this was the first time they had eaten ice-cream which for some, as they wrestled with the cold vs sweet taste, ended up being very messy. Thankfully one of the team made a dash to the supermarket for cleansing wipes and we returned back to Happy Life with the correct number of children ( we think they were the right ones!) – some needed carrying down the last stretch.
(Gideon has fun with his ice cream)
The most regular job for volunteers is the baby feeding. Happy Life is ‘full’ – ie. every bed and cot is taken so its going to be a busy visit in terms of feeding. However, Christmas Day is one of the most popular days for visitors from the local community to come along and donate – which means plenty of extra pairs of hands for feeding time.
We lasted through until about 9.30pm hoping for a quieter night in the 25C humidity.
Sharon and Steve
Co-founders MX Publishing and proud ambassadors for Happy Life
(more info on Happy Life……..Five Ways You Can Help Us Change Lives This Holiday Period)