Tutarudi, watoto. (We will return, babies)

Ericki (left) and Stevie (right), giving me
nyewele pendeza (beautiful hair)!

So, I’ve just moved up to West London to Brunel University and am settling in well, plastering my shelves with pictures of the kids, family, happy memories, my life. To me, it’s just a step closer to being back in Nkoaranga, changing ‘pleasant’  (*cough!*) nappies, feeding ‘yummy’ Ugi, (baby formula) playing the wonderful made up games the kids bring to us, and of course, my favorite part of the day, watching all of the beautiful babies, toddlers, children sleep. I don’t mean because that means that they are actually quiet for a miraculous 10 hours, not at all. It just really is one of the best things to see, peaceful and adorable – despite the usual aroma of wee in the air, bless them!Project Education.

It’s going to be great to be able to say goodbye to Dianess, Stevie and Ericki before they head out into the big wide world for school. As you all know, we are in the final stages of fundraising to enroll this year’s group of kids in high quality Tanzanian boarding schools, through The Foundation for Tomorrow. (We have some very exciting initiatives in the works to support Project Education, so keep a look out to find out what we’ve got planned!) We are also already thinking of next year’s little academics – Pendo, Abdulli, and of course, my special little guy, David Kubwa, who will all be venturing out of Nkoaranga to study in January of 2013.

I honestly can’t even remember or think as to how David and I got close. But we did, and hearing him remembering and saying my name for the first time was one my most fulfilling moments. To be honest, whenever any of the kids called out to you, it was incredible – even better, to have a conversation in Swahili with them, to truly communicate, really makes you stop and think. We came from such different places, and to bridge the gap – to see them happy and laughing, despite the trauma many of them have been there, makes you completely look at life in a whole new way (I’m getting tears in my eyes as I type this now!). Since coming home from Tanzania, I really am a whole different person. I’m happy with what I have and appreciate it, as cliché and cheesy as it may sound. As long as you have your family and friends, that really is all that you need to be happy (and of course, the memories of Nkoaranga orphanage and the kids!) It really is these kids and the mamas that I have to thank for that.

Andrea (front) and Ericki

I found Bekka’s blog, ‘Beautiful Girls‘ really interesting. Like her, I totally agree about loving how the kids are totally oblivious to ‘gender stereotyping’ and couldn’t care less about what color clothes they were wearing, be it a favorite bright pink jumper that was a hit with some of the ‘lads’ or whether it was the laid back ‘builders’ boots, that I would often see Loveness wear. That’s their love for Bob the Builder right there! I would love it when they would sit and play with my hair for ages, quite often, Andrea, who a fair few of us have decided is going to be hairdresser when he’s older! It was so therapeutic, often sending me nearly to sleep as they would spend time attempting plaits and ponytails, (or just general knots) – or Loveness’ favorite, putting spit in her hand, then transferring it through my hair, for the ‘wet look’ maybe? Who knows!

As for making them aware that they are all beautiful, I think this word means more than meets the eye. I don’t feel it’s just the girls that can be called beautiful; I think it is wider than that. People are beautiful. Be it, a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, a baby, anyone. To me, it is just a lovely, happy word that describes something amazing on the outside and the inside, which is, fundamentally, what we most want to convey to the children.

You could tell that those children felt loved by us all and the mamas and by visitors, by anyone. Who couldn’t adore them? They are all so amazing that they know what is important. They look out for each other and you can just seem the closeness and the love that they have for each other. Playing games as groups, doing a conga line on the last morning that I spent there when they knew we were bringing out balloons! Letting an adult know when there was a problem or someone was hurt, feeding the babies and toddlers, the list is endless. Of course, it wasn’t always perfect. There were arguments, hits, kicks, crying, not sharing, but, at the end of the day, they’re kids who spend 24/7 constantly in each other’s company. They truly are brothers and sisters at heart – I argued with my sister so much! But deep down, I always loved her and you can see when you watch the kids that they 100% love and care for each other. And that is what I call a beautiful thing.

I’m sure I can speak on behalf of all of the other volunteers from the orphanage, that we often stop and take the time to look through the mountains of pictures and albums that we have of the kids and just smile, and, possibly, shed the odd tear, as we genuinely miss them from the bottom of our hearts, their cheeky grins and infectious laughter.

Just a few days before I was due to get on a plane back to England, I was just folding up some washing when David walks in to be a little star and help… He then called me ‘mama.’ Trying not to break out in tears right then was pretty dam hard. I just hugged him and told him that I loved him and that I would be back. How could I not? We’re family.

Enough of the sad stuff, I am going back… we will all be back, I’m sure!

Counting down the days to see you all again beautiful watoto (babies) –
Nakukosa, nakupenda. (I miss you, I love you.)