Nkoaranga Angels: Western Union, Millie and Mikarla

Mikarla with Frankie
Millie with Ebeni and Vicky

Ok, so I know a big company isn’t usually an angel… but in this case, Western Union’s “World of Betters” competition  allowed us to throw our name in the hat with an idea about what we would do with $1,000 to make the world a better place. And then many of you wonderful people voted for us on their site – and we won! We picked up $1,000 towards funding a year’s salary for a new mama, who we’re hoping to hire this summer. A good chunk of the rest of the money is coming from our wonderful friends Millie and Mikarla, two Australian volunteers who partnered with us to re-do the playground. We couldn’t be more grateful for their help with both projects!

Cantate dancing with the toddlers

For those who haven’t been there personally, please trust us when we say that hiring new staff is possibly the MOST valuable thing we can do for the orphanage. The mamas work incredibly hard, but as it stands, there are often only two on duty at any given time – meaning that one is cooking, cleaning, and washing all the clothes, while another is watching the kids. Given that there are currently four babies under a year and another six under two years, think about how much time and attention the older kids get under the current system! This isn’t the fault of the mamas, and they work hard to counteract it through group play, singing, dancing, and more – but it’s just not always possible to engage that many children directly with only two adults. And, of course, if a child is sick and needs to be brought down the hill to the hospital or the water or cooker or washing machines are down, one mama will have to spend their entire shift working on that problem rather than being with the kids.

Mama Linda with sleepy Ester

That said, things are getting better. Mama Linda has already made a big splash with the kids, and almost certainly saved little Peace’s life during the month she spent with him giving one-to-one care. We’re hoping to find someone just as wonderful as her to fill the second spot we’ll have open this summer! Luckily for us, although difficult for the community, there are almost always very talented people left without jobs, even once they’ve attained credentials such as the child-care certificate required to work at the orphanage. We’re looking forward to finding just the right fit for our kids.

Mama Andrew with Shujah

We have also been lucky to have a number of wonderful volunteers come forward through the site, in addition to those who are out there through great volunteer organizations. However, volunteers are always a bit of a mixed bag, because unless they live on the property (as we do when we go), they often choose to be there during a very limited time-frame, usually 9am-4pm, which are in fact the easiest hours of the day! That can supplement, but never replace, the importance of having enough mamas hired to take care of the kids in every hour of the day and night.

Now, just for fun, a few videos: Mama Cantate feeding the kids with mangoes (which are ‘tam,’ tasty), trying not to let them get their hands all sticky – a losing battle – and Mama Farajah singing and dancing the “Train to Moshi” song before bed with the kids (and no, I have no clue why Zawadi looks so serious!)

Thanks to everyone who voted for us, to Western Union, and to Millie and Mikarla! 
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