Saturday, September 29, 2007

More news from Zoe in Maseno

More photos and updates from Zoe in Mercy Home ...

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Last day of school.......:(

[Update from Marie in Uganda / Kenya]

Hello once again!

I've been a little slack in writing, time is just flying by..... a little news on whats been happening-
We arrived back in Kenya last Saturday night, with a new drum for the girls - they usually use water containers, they were so thrilled, not because of the drum, more that we had returned a day early! Zoe and I had a great time- Uganda is a diamond in the rough! wow - I would love to go back there! Awesome to see the source of the Nile river ....lots of naked babies bathing on verandahs, really great shopping in Jinja... Then up to Murchison Falls "the most spectacular place on the river Nile - falls were so powerful - cruised along the croc and hippo infested waters to the bottom, then walked around the top the next morning, the spray creating rainbows all over the place! We also got to go on another safari - seeing the animals with lake Albert in the background, fishermen in rickerty boats - and a great herd of elephant - quite surreal...unfortunatly the Lions were not around, but wow the giraffe were amazing! Buffalos, elephant, wart-hog, antelope many birds and hippo. I heard the grunts of the hippo outside the tent one night - then heard the rangers shouting and trying to get them to move on - hmmmmm I was very restless with a head cold, and a little nervous to get to the bathrooms without running into one by accident!
Our last week at school, the chicken shed is being made - the footballs are getting a great workout - and the paints and coloured pencils are still creating fascination! The students are just wonderful, and helping wherever possible.... the last day though was pretty difficult - a fest was put on for us for lunch then after was a school assembly where each class performed a song, poem, an authentic luo dance (amazing!) and 2 soccer matches. Then came the speeches and presents given - I cracked up - ahhh couldnt help the tears, just spilled over! A dream lived. so many beautiful children, so much love and appreciation - I guess I didnt realize we had made such a big impact on this school. I have many photos, thank goodness to be able to share Zoes camera - I really need one!
Yesterday we lazed around, gosh the last day took up so many emotions! The workmen were back at the home, the iron roofing was put up - and looks great! A donation came in from AVIF for that and all are so very grateful, looking like real bedrooms! Can just imagine the next lot of new additions to Mercy Home! Still a lot to do - like plastering, furniture and windows and doors! but we will get to have a sleepover before we leave! Yay.
One of the girls, who I have a big soft spot for...was really down the other day, finally we went to talk outside, and she let me know what was up - she had gone to her mum's to say hi, the dinner ready to be served, and she had a taste, yuck - who cooked this? Her mum who is HIV+ and looking after her 2 younger kids, a grandson, a mother in law, an elder daughter with 2 kids & left husband, she is the only one working - trying so desperatly to educate the kids and feed all. If she can find work it is ploughing the fields all day in the sun, for 50 KES a day (60 KES = $1 AUD).  Anyway there was no money for oil, salt and many other things. Even though this young lady and her sister are being looked after at the home, these girls feel so guilty about how well they have it and feel helpless to help the rest of the family. This is only one of the many many stories, all true, that is happening here. Poverty. Harsh realities.
We are accompanying the girls to the markets after school today - so I shall leave my news here. Not long till we leave, Zoe on a trip around Africa and me to Tanzania.....will keep you posted!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Best Practice ? Pause for thought !

[from NetworkLearning.Org]

Is building an orphanage Good Practice or Bad?

Traditionally in Africa, orphans were accommodated by the extended family. But in Europe people built orphanages. The characteristics of orphanages for the last two hundred years have been: •
insufficient numbers of staff to meet the physical and psychological needs of the children; •
a failure to teach the children how to relate to adults of both sexes, and in doing so learn how to be a woman or a man; •
a failure to teach them how to build relationships of their own; •
lack of planning of the children’s’ work futures.

In Europe, girl babies are put into orphanages, grow up without relationships with boys and men, come out at sixteen, get pregnant . . . and put their girl baby back into the orphanage.

People seem to love building orphanages.
The idea makes a nice mental picture; – the saintly founders, surrounded by the loving children who are only alive because of them, all in a building that is a concrete proof of their benevolence.
But this picture is about the egos of the builders, not what is best for children.

Today, AIDS has brought a large number of orphans. How should they be cared for?

Consider this :
Perhaps the money that can build an orphanage can also be spent on fostering the babies with
their grannies and paying an allowance. If there are no grannies, aunties or big sisters, they can be fostered with non-related families. If land tenure is closed to outsiders, then older orphans will do better in towns, where they can be found a Master or Mistress and apprenticed to a trade, and ideally fostered with the Mistress’'s or Master’'s family.