Although I am back in the UK, the great work continues in Kenya. I have left John over there as there is still so much to do.
Yesterday some of our girls attended their grandmother’s funeral. I am always very anxious when this happens, as our girls are with us for care and protection as well as therapy, and visiting their home villages creates potential risk for them. Our girls were well escorted and have returned to us safely, but for me it is always about the impact to their emotional state. Of course they will come into the house with big smiles, telling stories of being out and about, but what lies beneath their smiles. For this family their father has been sentenced to life in prison, but there are split feelings in their community about his role in their abuse. These are horrifically abused children, who will say and do anything to feel noticed. I can’t imagine the impact of returning to their home village and seeing the splits in their community. We will continue to hold them emotionally and physically and pray the courts will stop sending the girls into danger to adhere to traditions. Returning to the scene of long term abuse and fear is never a good idea!
Our boys have broken from school and we are working hard to keep them busy. These boys are simply amazing in the way they have managed to move away from the lives that trapped them on the streets. However, we know the importance of keeping them physically busy to stop their thoughts being drawn to the pull of glue, which many of our boys used on a daily basis to numb the horrific experiences of street life. Sniffing glue, which was available for a few pence, took the edge off the fears they experiences; the threat of violence, physical and sexual; the cold, rain and heat and the stigma of being beaten and moved on by shop owners and police – not an easy life at all.
That is why we keep a programme of school and physical exercise as part of our daily routine. They play football everyday and swim once a week. Also after school they have free time with lego and board games (that has really helped ME to count in Swahili!). The lego has been such a huge hit and they pull together to make complex models – and the staff love it too!
There is lots continuing in Kenya, including our quest to introduce video equipment into the courts which will mean vulnerable children will never have to sit next to their accused while giving evidence – imagine the impact to our girls! Court is in many ways more scary than the original crime – they knew the danger and knew who to be scared of – in court they are put through hell by the men in suits who defend the scum who have raped our baby girls. Their culture is that they are not supposed to disagree with an elder, especially a man, so they are scared beyond belief by the questioning of the lawyers – and all that while SITTING FACE TO FACE with their rapist! One of our girls described to me that the smell of him made he not be able to speak as she thought she would vomit! How is that ok! I am so hopeful that this is coming to an end and very soon. I think that might be one of the things Play Kenya will be most proud of.
So, as I sit at home, with a good internet connection, I long for the setting in Kenya where electricity is often out; water stops for days; the internet connection is dodgy on a good day but I am surrounded by the girls from Rafiki Mwema and the boys from Rafiki Familia. They more than make up for electricity and water!
I am planning my next trip and in the meantime will keep you updated from John who is over there until the beginning of September … How lucky is he!