Karibu dada wetu! (Welcome, our sister!)

This blog definitely needs to start with a welcome for
Priscilla.  She arrived at Nkoaranga Orphanage on the 8th April and since then has been charming everyone with how cute she looks in her little woolly hat.  We are so glad to have her with us and that we can help to provide a safety net for such a tiny person.  More pictures soon, but for the moment, we are very happy to let you know that she is healthy and doing well!
Priscilla asleep just after she arrived.
National Siblings’ Day was last week (in America).  Blogging about Mother’s Day or Father’s Day can be a bit difficult, because although some of our children do still have family members the situations are rarely good. Siblings however are not in short supply. With the exception of Pendo and Zawadi, none of the Nkoaranga children are biologically related. However, as I learnt in first-year undergraduate Social Anthropology last year, ‘kinship’ is about far more than DNA. 
The children all grow up together in what is essentially one big family, with a lot of different parents. With so many adults coming and going, their real stability comes from the other children around them. Naturally, there are squabbles, fights, tears and a bit of hitting, but then, you get some of that in your average sized family! When it comes down to it, though, they really care about each other. The older children join in feeding the little ones (sometimes this is a rather messy idea!), they try to carry them (also a bit risky), and I can’t count the number of times that one of them has come up to me and pointed me in the direction of a crying baby, or just dumped one unceremoniously in my lap.

Dainessi (7) cuddling little Isaac. 

Eriki (6) also with Isaac, who doesn’t always get all the attention!
The toddlers always have a good group dynamic, and the kids in the school room snatch each others’ coloring pencils and chairs, but usually come back best of friends at the end of the morning.  I remember one morning when everyone was out playing in the garden, and Ester and Loveness came over to me to show me that little Neema was sitting in the grass (quite peacefully!) – I think that they thought she wasn’t getting enough attention.  Once I had picked her up and put her in the baby swing, they took turns to push her (which needed a bit of overseeing as they were rather enthusiastic!) and taking turns to say ‘shikamoo’ to her!  I should add that shikamoo is something which you say to elders as a sign of respect, so it was quite amusing to watch them giggle at the fact they were saying it to their little sister…but also very sweet!
Here are a few pictures of some especially close sibling relationships that we have seen develop and look set to continue well into the future!

Maureeni (3) joining Shujaa (1) in his cot.
Neema (1) and Isaac on the changing table.

Maureeni (3) and Ester (3)