The internet has been an elusive creature for the last week or so... power outages seem to magically time themselves precisely for my arrival in internet cafes. It's downright uncanny. That said, I have a lot of exciting news (and, as always, adorable photos) to share.
|One of Mama Pendo's oldest with one|
of the youngest!
Last Saturday we had a real treat – a local community development class graduated and held their ceremony at the orphanage. They provided a HUGE meal, and thanks to your donations, we were able to supply transportation for a number of older kids to come back to Nkoaranga from the places they are currently living. We had a group from USA River Academy (the kids who are enrolled with TFFT), as well as a group from SOS Children's Villages, which included Farajah and Aroni! We also had some kids from SOS who had been at Nkoaranga 16, 18, or even 20 years ago, when the orphanage had JUST gotten started, and was mostly just Mama Pendo in a small building next to the mortuary trying to take care of a few abandoned kids! Needless to say, it was fantastic to see them all back – and SO much fun to see the reunited kids playing together. It reminds you how much they really have grown up as siblings – being separated is difficult for them, and they are thrilled to be back together. Zawadi in particular jumped on Farajah and refused to be moved for most of the rest of the afternoon, even to come to me! She missed her “little mama.” All the kids also loved the cake – especially Neema, who ate four or five pieces!
|Mama Cantate with Wema, Farajah, Pendo, and Aroni|
|Stevie with the memory book I made for him |
with the help of many former volunteers' photos!
|Ericki with his memory book|
|The USA River Academy kids performing|
|Adam with Loveness |
(top) and Baracka
|Riz and Simoni|
Adam and Riz have both arrived, and the micro-grants project is in full swing. In the last two days they've already done eight interviews, and are off today to (hopefully!) polish off the rest. Although many families just want chickens or other basic livestock, a few have really creative ideas – and we're hoping that bringing these families together will allow them to collaborate and share ideas and resources. The first class is later today - we will keep you updated on how it goes!
|Adam and Neema|
Of course, not all the time is dedicated to work on the grants project... Adam and Riz have also been loving their time with the kids, and vice versa! The kids are always so excited to meet new people, and especially when those people are “cool guys” - they don't have much exposure to positive male role models, so we are thrilled to give them a few. If nothing else, they love being thrown, flipped, and turned upside down – and the guys have been happy to oblige, and tire a little slower than I do!
Shujah and Peace are working on crawling, although they are currently most talented at spinning in circles on their tummies. Ebenezer and Neema are growing and thriving, and are now both sharing their beautiful smiles with us! Poor Ebeni was a little off this morning, and he seems to generally struggle a bit with digestion – we are hoping that the gentle preemie formula coming over with Claire, Dorothy and Patty on Sunday will help soothe him a bit! Neema continues to be a little stunner and captivate everyone when she bats those big brown eyes.
Filipo took his first steps last week, which was incredibly exciting. We had all been trying to coax him towards it for a while – but of course, it was Mama Pendo who finally got him to make the move. I swear she has baby magic. As soon as he got up, he hasn't looked back! Frankie is now all alone sitting on the floor – although even he took a few steps last week. Unlike Filipo, however, that hasn't tempted him towards full-time walking. He still prefers to be carried everywhere, and bawl loudly if that desire isn't immediately satisfied!
|Mama Marie and Frankie|
|Marie and Neema|
|Mama Pendo, Marie and the clothes donation|
|Ebeni and Frankie playing in the suitcase|
|Half finished new chicken coop|
And now, just a few of my favorite shots from the last week, because why not?
|Me and my baby girl!|