I had the pleasure of living at Humanity Home from December 2, 2021 until April 18, 2022, experiencing the rhythm of life in this marvelous family. In December, we welcomed three little girls, Tamara (age 3) and sisters Esther (6) and Serfin (3). Taraji, Judy’s baby, took her first steps and was off and running from there. Christmas plans were curtailed after Tity got sent home from boarding school for Christmas break with Covid. We all got tested three times and 10 cases of Covid went through the house. Fortunately, none were terrible.
The kids finally got a long break after 17 months of school post-Covid lockdown. We took full advantage of this. There was endless girl power pop music, which the kids convinced me to download on their iPad, and frequent dance practice. We went swimming multiple times, the excursion made easier by the opening of a new hotel pool twenty minutes away. We walked to the river on a regular basis. We barbecued. We baked cookies. We had a lovely time just being together.
We used one of our swimming excursions to celebrate of the 5th anniversary of Humanity Home.
Several times, our kids invited school friends to come visit for a sleepover. Invariably, the visitors do not want to leave. Some interns with the children’s department came around filling out questionnaires. Their reaction to seeing our kids was an astonished “Are these your children?” They don’t see kids in children’s homes that get treated like, and look like our kids do.
Then we did something that our kids could never have envisioned in their lives: we went on a safari to Masai Mara. Four years ago, Moses, who was about 5 at the time, announced, “I’ve never been to Africa.” At first we found this amusing, but then I realized that there was Yogi Berra-esque wisdom in his words. The Africa seen on television and in videos, with wild animals, was a universe away from everyday reality for these children. Since then, I dreamed of taking the kids to Masai Mara. Two years ago, I received an email from a Masai friend who runs a community sponsored tent camp for tourists at Masai Mara. He mentioned that he was in our neighborhood picking up some guests. My reaction was “YOU DO THAT???” The wheels were turning. So, in March, we embarked with 20 kids (all but the 3-year-olds), a toddler (Taraji), and 5 adults for a five-day, four-night trip to Masai Mara. Three vans picked us up on Monday morning, drove us 4.5 hours to the camp, took us on twice-a-day game drives for three days, and brought us home on Friday. The kids loved staying in tents and bouncing around for hours standing up in safari vans. And they saw everything: lions, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, cheetahs, a leopard, a black rhino, ostriches, warthogs, impalas, gazelles, hippos and many other species. They didn’t complain, they didn’t get bored, nobody got sick or injured, and there was no misbehavior. They were fantastic. I still cannot believe we did that.
I have wondered if such an excursion would seem extravagant to folks from whom I ask for contributions to sustain Humanity Home. But this experience for these children sends a message that they are part of a bigger world, that they belong in it, that anything is possible. It is a massive understatement to say that this is not a message that many of the kids around here receive. It is impossible to put a price on that.
The expenditure for the safari trip was put in perspective when one of the kids asked me if the airplane from the U.S. to Kenya has places to sleep. The answer is yes, but one of those seats would cost as much as our entire trip.
BIG DREAMS FOR A NEW HOUSE
We continue to make the most of the rented former hotel where we live. I spent about a month painting the downstairs hallways, entryway and the large common room. We replaced part of the fence. However, there are many issues with our rented location that we cannot fix. These include lack of permanence, a noisy pub immediately next door to us, uncertainty over other pending redevelopment adjacent to us, problems with our water supply and septic tank, the need for a new roof, and limited access to decent schools.
For these and other reasons, we have decided to build a new building closer to Kisumu. We purchased a one-acre parcel of land and are working with an architect on a design that meets our needs. Overall budget for the new site is $300,000. This is going to require a lot of help from our friends.
Here are our preliminary design drawings. The building is designed in every respect to foster the fact that we are a family. Needless to say, we are very excited.