I just realized that while we’ve alluded to it a few times, we’ve never told the full story of the day we took the Nkoaranga kids on safari to Arusha national park, which we are lucky enough to have just down the road. We rented a dalla-dalla (minibus) for the day, and piled all the big kids in – sadly, there wasn’t space for the toddlers, and we could only bring kids who were potty trained. They were so excited before we even set off, they were making up their own songs for the moment and dancing with all the little ones!

Then we all piled into the vehicle – no small feat with two mamas, three volunteers, and a whole bunch of kids! They didn’t seem to mind the close conditions, though – part of growing up in an orphanage, I guess! I think they enjoyed the car ride almost as much as seeing the animals – it’s such a rare treat for them… with the exception of Tumaini, poor thing, who got carsick. Luckily, we were prepared.

Just the back two rows – all I could capture with the camera!
Multiply this by 3. 

Pray is psyched, Stevie’s out the window, and David just
wants in on the photo op.

Once we got to the park, we saw all kinds of amazing things – zebras and giraffes and whole herds of water buffalo, plus some incredible scenery. The day was so clear that you could clearly see Mount Meru on one side (where the orphanage is) and Kilimanjaro on the other. We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather! 

Buffalo grazing
Bethan helping Pray to see

On the way back, kids started to get sleepy… it was extremely cute to see them slumped up against each other. We steeled ourselves to wake them up, though, for another treat. On the way back, we stopped a local game lodge, where the kids could get even closer to the animals. This particular place, “Meru Game Lodge,” rehabilitates injured animals and cares for those that can’t go back into the wild. It’s a really great place to stay (if you can afford it!) and otherwise to come by for lunch, or just to see the animals. Here the kids saw a crocodile, more zebras, wildebeest, antelopes, porcupines, tons of birds, and ostriches.

Dainess (minutes from falling asleep) with Andrea
passed out on her shoulder
Pendo, Asimwe, and Loveness looking at the zebras 

On the final leg of the journey home, we got the best treat of the day – the kids singing their “Thank you” song. It was and is unbelievably sweet, even when half the voices are a little sleepy! “Asante kwa safari” means “thank you for the safari (trip),” “asante kwa upendo” means “thank you for the love,” and “asante sana yesu” means “thank you Jesus,” and “moyoni” means “from my heart.” There were a lot of verses that went through all of our names and the mamas names, but this was what I managed to catch on video.

What they should have been singing, but probably wouldn’t have fit the rhythm of the song, was “Thank you donors to the Small Things,” because your support is what makes it possible for us to splurge on day outings like this – it cost about $150 to make fifteen kids insanely happy, but if we’d been working out of only our own personal funds, that $150 would have had to go to vitamins, or formula, or salaries. Having your support gives us the flexibility to give the kids a few real treats, give them a chance to just be KIDS for a day, excited to see some animals. We’re very grateful.

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