McKenna and I went to the Imani Children’s Orphanage today. This was the first time I’ve been at an orphanage and it was very moving. I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a school. These children live here. They have no place to go. They have nobody to love them.
Driving to Imani was interesting. (By the way, Imani means "Faith.) Traffic was terrible. We drove into the Kayole area of Nairobi. It was notorious for crime about three years ago until there was a police crackdown. The streets are totally crowded with duka’s and people like I’ve only seen in movies. There was barely room for our car to pass. Then suddenly Bob turns left and there’s a blue steel gate with Imani Children’s Orphanage written on it.
Bob blows the horn and soon the gate swings open. Inside is a whole different world than was we had just driven through. Inside it is clean and bright. There are lots of green potted plants and lots of children busy everywhere. They are cleaning, some are ironing, some are cutting bamboo sticks to place into the potted plants to support them.
A man named Njoroge greets us. He is very kind and takes us on a tour. We have to put surgical-like booties on to tour the children’s living quarters. They are very nice and clean. We see where they eat and bathe and sleep. Then he brings us to the infant room.
There are three “departments,” under one roof. We are required to wipe our feet on a wet kind of pillow then dip them into a solution and wipe them again before we enter in. There is a huge square made up of twin-sized foam mattresses before us. On one side are tiny little infants laying with their butts exposed. They don’t use diapers.
In the middle of the square on a white plastic sheeting are some pre-c rawlers, and beyond them seated at a little table eating are some pre-walkers. A worker tells us to choose a department. So I go over to the little table and ask what I can do to help. The worker tells me to feed a little one who seems to be behind the others.
On metal plates I see ample amounts of ugali (sort of like grits) and beans, and the little children are feeding themselves with spoons. I’m amazed that they’re so orderly. Everyone is sitting still and eating quietly. I help my little one, who eats every single bite. Then they’re given something to drink and I’m amazed that they can drink from a cup.
The lady tells me it’s time to pick up one, bring it to a bucket of water, clean it, change it’s clothes and lay it down in the big square for a nap. So I grab a tiny girl, pull off her clothes, clean her, dress her and lay her down. She does all of this without fighting, running away or complaining at all. Even after I lay her down she just lays there, so I go get another and another and another until they’re all laying down. I’ve never seen anything like this. They sure have the routine down. Sure there’s a couple who cry a little and one or two who try to sit up but a worker comes and says something in Swahili and they obey without fighting her.
After this they feed some lunch of rice, a tomato sauce of some sort, and some veggies of green beans and cauliflower. It’s quite tasty and I’m touched that they would give us this food. When we’re finished eating we go next-door and prepare our puppet stage with the help of several helpful orphan boys.
They loved our puppet show. Many indicated a desire to have their sins forgiven by Jesus. When I asked them to pray many of they got down on the ground and were praying. Wow. God certainly has a tender place in His heart for orphans. It says in the Bible that He is a Father to the fatherless.
After our program several of the boys stayed behind and we sang some together. It was such a sweet time with them. They wanted to help us and carried our stuff down the stairs. Everywhere there was activity as we loaded up to drive home. It takes a whole lot of work to run an orphanage and to run it cleanly. One lady was sewing with an old-fashioned push-peddle Singer machine! I got a pic!
I didn’t get to meet the lady, Faith, who started it, but I’m told she adopted her first child at the age of 12 and has had a passion for orphans ever since. In fact, Ann told me that she’s adopted the children at the orphanage and is a mom to them. She must be quite a lady.
Tomorrow we’ve been asked by Pastor Robbie to sing during Communion time at his Living Waters church in Nairobi, and to sing at the end of the service. So we’re looking forward to serving and will let you know how it goes.
McKenna’s cough is significantly less today – hardly at all. Thank You Lord! She SO enjoyed holding a tiny orphan baby today. “This baby just peed on me!” she said smiling. She was wearing one of her African skirts which dried fast.
Thanks for your continued prayer as we go through our last week in Kenya. We want to finish well. Next week we’ll be at a public school, which is amazing. On Tuesday I’ll be recording with Ann for the radio station. It’s late and I’m going to close for now.