Wonderful, wonderful time at Goodlife Orphanage

Monday 5th March 2012

Not to be – this is Kenya. Lawyer called again for us to come in and sign more papers, and to pay for registration etc. of NGO. Good idea as he wanted everything in place to begin registration tomorrow in Nairobi and of course he needed money to do it. In Kenya it is a cash society with credit cards very rarely used, and if they are it is a 5% surcharge. Very hard to find even a hotel that will take them, in Diani Beach, unless it is 5 star.
So if you can imagine $10 Australian = $1000KS you have to carry around an awful lot of money!! Had to ring Mary at Goodlife Orphanage and let her know we’d be late coming. Nothing is quick here!! We finally got away from lawyers 2 or so hours later, to head to Mtwapa on the north coast. Stinking hot again, and we felt like we were melting. Shadrack our driver cheerfully chatted most of the way, weaving in and out of the horrific Mombasa traffic and traffic on the normal full of potholes roads to anywhere in Kenya.

Lesley came back from the clinic after seeing that Tricia was fine (Tricia then went to a hotel for a couple of days). Lesley came back as we had a meeting with the architect who designed Goodlife’s school, to discuss our plans as Kevin said he was excellent and understood Kenyan building materials and design for the climate. David was lovely as was Dennis the electrical engineer he brought with him. They agreed to come with us on Thursday to the land to measure it out and design a site plan for us based on our instructions to take home with me. Kevin and Mary have offered their help and advice for us as they have immense knowledge and experience, and I have to say 2 of the lovliest Irish people you could meet!! We took Mary and Kevin’s advice and headed out to the “Moorings” for dinner and were not disappointed in the least. What a fabulous meal I had of fresh honey battered prawns, sitting on a floating restaurant in the creek. The moon was full and a lovely night. The orphanage driver took us there through the bustling backstreets of Mtwapa and he kindly offered to come back and collect us. Good thing…. Mtwapa doesn’t sleep at night with working ladies everywhere to be seen and was sooo alive.

What a wonderful, wonderful experience and you just can’t imagine how all of these children have been abandoned by relatives, dumped in skip bins, dumped under trees, left at a hospital front steps, dumped at birth in the bush with umbilical cord still attached (are just some of the stories) – and to see them speaking fluent English and so proud of their results at school is so, so heart-warming. There are 3 children with disabilities and what adorable children they are, encased in such love and caring. Makes you want to burst with pride at how they are cared for. We had a good meeting with Kevin and Mary, to advise us and to give us pointers on the running of the orphanage. How can I explain how grateful we are to their generosity and the staffs. Lay down after lunch for a nanna nap and slept over 2 hours. When we woke up it was time to have our showers and head to the Serena Hotel with the driver, as was our lift in. We had to wait until the teachers were finished their meeting at the school but no problems. OMG what a hotel!! It was 5 star and you just think, “How can this be here, when down the road is such horrible poverty?” Dinner was lovely and we caught a taxi back to the orphanage, packing up and ready to leave to come back to Ukunda tomorrow to meet the landowners at the plot to walk around the boundary, and the lawyer once again. We learnt so much here and were just so amazed at the pride in the staff of their gardens, their cows, their school, and most of all the love and care shown to the children.
Mary and Kevin are simply awe inspiring!

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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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