Impressions from Canadian supporters

Impressions from Canadian supporters

Written by Lyle Makosky, HHF friend and supporter from Canada

My wife, Joy and I arrived in Nairobi on Feb 7 and were anxious to visit the HHFL site as soon as we could since we have been supporters of the program from the beginning (we run fund raising events for the HHFL a couple times a year among others) but had only seen the progress through viewing this fine website. There is nothing like a real time face to face experience to open your eyes to the scope and reality of what’s happening here.

As we arrived, we were greeted by smiling faces and warm welcomes while Hanne and Ted introduced us to the project children….what a thrill to see them in the project surroundings for the first time! The young children (pre school and primary grades) look healthy with the kind of glow that comes from good nutrition and emotional support and caring…perhaps in degrees they have never experienced. They have a joyful spirit, which is hard to imagine given the desperate conditions they grow up in and the lack of opportunity to experience childhood as we know it in Canada. And yet, they have a joy that is infectious, and an energy that suggests possibility….possibility to engage the future whatever that may be and its evident that the HHFL project is broadening and opening up the opportunity of futures that were only a dream in recent years past. We watched them at play, lined up (smallest to the tallest) for their lunch (they receive three good meals a day), happily consuming the meals, returning to their studies or creative art and play sessions, showing a fine balance of organized discipline and scattered chaos typical of a community of children experiencing life now as they should, knowing that even more is yet to come.

Then on Saturday, a regular visit by a wonderful martial arts/exercise instructor  (Salim) who leads the children in a class of high energy exercise and martial arts (kick boxing based) which they love. He is an inspiring man, building their self confidence in themselves, their physicality and their defensive ability, while emphasizing that such a martial art is really about physical and emotional control and is to be used only as a necessity not to express aggression which is a valuable tempering of the tendencies in their challenging street life. In addition, I loved that each session was based on/incorporated a message on life which he cleverly weaved into the process. That day the lesson was on equality and fairness…equal consideration and treatment of both genders and fairness on how one treated others….beautiful!

The following week, one day we spent a hilarious time viewing the pictures and video I had recorded of the children in the exercise class with all of them climbing over each other to see what they looked like on a display screen….much giggling and shy pointing.

The rest of our time there was spent with the recent graduates of Form 4 (High school grad equivalent) who were awaiting their final results. This is an important choice point in their lives and in their path through the HHFL project….that is to consider the key life questions: what is my next step in life, what would I like to do, what higher education and/or training should I, and could I, pursue, where do I go for this education, will I be able to access and afford it given the higher cost and our situation?….compelling questions and the responses and choices made now will affect the rest of their lives. Elsewhere on this web site, the reader will have read of the terrific work done by Alexandra Howard to help these grads to consider these questions, take stock of their skills and hopes and begin the process of identifying a desired training or higher ed path and related selection of colleges etc. We were happy to spend time with each of the grads, helping them where we could, to think through the choices and what would work best for each and what colleges would be best to pursue etc.

It is truly moving to see the hope in their questions about the next phase of their life, to see the desire to become something that a few years ago must have seemed impossible, to see the pride as they spoke of what they have achieved so far and why they believe more is possible. We are so blessed in Canada to have the opportunities and choices available to us, (even if pursuing them is still a big challenge for many) while such choices are often limited to such a small percent of people in African countries and especially those living in slum conditions. Now we can see that this project is breaking through that wall for this first wave of secondary grads, enabling them to consider the unthinkable, to reach for the unreachable. They are a wonderfull group of young people who can access a productive and wholesome life and be a credit to the Kenyan society. It was an honour to see and contribute a small part to their emerging light. We will look forward to following their progress.

For those of you reading this blog and who may be supporting or considering supporting this project, may I say to you in all sincerity….this is a compelling initiative, that is changing the lives of these children and young people on so many levels, each with a story to tell that moves me at the deepest levels and a hope for a possible future that was beyond any of them before. This is something worth supporting and the return can’t be measured for it is about enabling the human spirit.


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