One year later, and so much has changed…for the better!

Last week, I came back from my third annual visit to Nairobi. I went to see Hanne and Ted and all my special friends at our project in Lenana. I could not believe my eyes – what tremendous change has taken place in little over a year! Our project has been moved from the dilapidated church/community center to the outskirts of the slum where now a neatly painted row of corregated shacks are standing on one side and a cleaned-up yard and two toilets on the other!

A happy mother Margaret is cooking in a kitchen this time with a roof, gas stove, storage space and a small hatch in the wall where the kids pick up their meal time plates. The yard now has a fence and a gate so the kids are now able to play, eat and attend classes freely while the teachers can keep a close eye on what’s going on.

I arrived at the end of a long summer break and so we had to prepare the children to go back to school, particularly the elder ones who are attending boarding school and high school. We helped to organize them with new uniforms, books, mattresses, blankets and a chest for their personal stuff. What happy faces everywhere!

I watched as Hanne trained the teachers to line up the children in rows for a daily grooming inspection. The teachers checked that the girl’s hair is braided, boy’s heads are shaved and the uniforms are clean and shirts are tucked in. Not always easy! All in all, there was a real sense of discipline this year and a lot of credit goes to Hanne who has moved mountains to get where she is today.

I want to close my blog entry by thanking all the children that participated in an unforgettable farewell afternoon before I left for Amsterdam. The scouts were in full uniform performing their allegiance; James, who had trained several boys to show their acrobats; a real play about tribal kings and wild game; and of course Nancy with her drum had us all on our feet swaying our hips and clapping our hands! I had tears in my eyes to see all of them so happy, knowing that when they leave Lenana at night the ‘other life’ sets in again.

Thanks to everyone who is supporting this worthwhile project. I hope I can rely on your continued support in order to keep these kids in school while having a good chance to get out of that slum into a new, better life!

Cheers, Marianne Florijn

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