With only a few days remaining from when the October volunteers arrived until the official opening day it was all systems go. Organising had been going on since July to organise caterers, entertainment, marquees, guest list, who would sit at the high table, chairs, food and where it would be cooked etc.  Having never organised a function in Kenya before it was rather daunting to begin with, however our Project Manager told me he had it all under control, and knowing what could go wrong, put in place procedures so the program would not be too altered.  The traditional dancers got lost, the Project Manager was late for his speech, as he had to go find them, the MC changed the program around and the food was late, but no one cared. (Hakuna Matata). There is no hurry or worries in Kenya.  We slaughtered our goats in the traditional way respecting the cultures of our community for the feast which is the cultural practice for such an event. 


We were very privileged to have the representative of the Australian High Commission in Nairobi, Christian Josiah, official open the project in lieu of Australian High Commissioner for Kenya, John Feakes who could not attend due to a prior invitation. Christian was very, very impressed with the project and how we had planned and implemented the project from the beginning.  Food was traditional, entertainment was traditional and the program was traditional so our volunteers experienced a real Kenyan cultural day which I am sure they will not forget.  The highlight of the day was a couple of our volunteers Noel and Stephanie dancing with the Giriama tribal dancers. We were in fits of laughter. They tried the best they could, but just didn’t quite cut the moves like the Kenyans. 


It was wonderful to have all the Kenyans who worked on the project present, and also the owners of the Goodlife Orphanage Kenya, Mary and Kevin Maguire attending as they have been such a huge support on this journey. It was a very proud day for me to have the official naming of our first children’s home in honour of the Fleming and McLean Families of Bundaberg, who have been tremendous supporters of the project since the early days. The respect I have for Cliff and Lee Fleming and family, as they took me in as an employee when I was only 17 when their business was small, allowed me to honour them for their belief in me all those years ago, and the belief that I could achieve the extraordinary in Kenya by creating a children’s home.


It was indeed a special day for our volunteers, our staff, our children, our villagers, and myself knowing ‘We made it happen on step at a time.”  The Umoja Team back in Australia couldn’t wait to see the photos as without them, this would never have happened. 

Thank you to all who shared and assisted our journey to this day “Our Official Opening?”


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Umoja Orphanage Kenya is a Project of the Sunrise Rotary Club Bundaberg 
RAWCS Project Number 51/2011-12
Umoja's founder Cathy is a member of Fitzroy Rotary Club District 9570

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