What a great few days of training training, crying and laughing! Despite feeling pretty sick for the last 48 hours (much better now!) I have been rushed off my feet – what a shock I hear you say!
On Wednesday, Anisha and I delivered training to a charity who educate many many slum children in Nakuru. It is a great project and I was thrilled to hear that they absolutely don’t use physical chastisement to their children – but many of the teachers were worried that the pupils knew they couldn’t be beaten so were uncontrollable. This meant that some were calling the parents to complain about the children – and one after discussion with the parents they all concluded the child must be possessed! That is a very scary label to be given indeed! We spent the day helping them to understand the long term impact of domestic violence and how this manifests in complex behaviors. We taught them the beginnings of therapeutic teaching methods – a difficult concept to master. Anisha will continue the training over the next few months.
We drove home in one of the worst downpours I ever experienced – we couldn’t see the huge potholes in the road as the roads had become rivers!
On arriving home we had hoped Janet, Lorraine, Even Garry, Garry, Rachel and Sammy would have returned from their safari but they had broken down and had been delayed. That meant that Amena and I had to hold the girls group on our own. This is a fantastic group but it ALWAYS results in one or more of the girls telling their story – and what tragic, heartbreaking and totally devastating stories they have to tell. Our little F told her story tonight and gave EVERY single detail of what had happened to her from the build up of being sent home for being late (her brother was sick and she had to look after him in the morning) and how this led to her rape by a man known to her. She truly gave every single detail – I was in tears as where many of the girls with her. Then she spoke about going to the police station, how shameful that was, being taken to the remand for her care and protection – what a joke!
At the remand she experienced violence and sexual abuse from the other girls – the girls who were victims of crime where in dorms with perpetrators of crime. There were no visible adults on duty at night. She experienced girls climbing into her bed and touching her, fights breaking out in the night with girls strangling each other. They had one set of clothes, which the girls had to take off at night and wash ready to wear the next day. I don’t really see where either CARE or PROTECTION took place. Two of the other girls spoke about their time at the remand where they had experienced the same things. Saddened beyond belief.
After the group one of girls spoke to me and told me about her night terrors and her fears that she will never feel any better. She then spoke of a THIRD rape that she hadn’t spoken about before. I just break to feel and experience their pain and I thank god they are with us in relative safety. I know our girls will get better over time but I so wish I could speed up their process. I just can’t imagine how they are feeling – this young lady cannot stop her thoughts and pictures both day and night. She feels she shouldn’t live as she must be a bad person – and that is why God has made her suffer in this way. She is just a baby child. Heartbreaking. This group will continue when we have gone – it is so important to them and I know once their stories have been told they will begin to join in their healing.
Thursday was spent with Rafiki Mwema and Rafiki Familia where we did training on therapeutically parenting our girls and boys. I love the training days and love seeing ‘lights go on’ when we talk about the difficulties for invisible children who try not to draw attention to themselves. I love the feedback and all our staff have learnt not to tell me it was ‘good’ as I want to know in what way and why they think it’s good – I think they despair of me!
I had to give in to my sickness after the training – immediately afterwards to precise! I feel asleep on the floor as the last people were leaving and I think I may have stayed all night if Janet hadn’t woken me and Ray driven me home – I was done in! I woke up feeling much better today – which was good as a busy day ahead!
We had a staff meeting at both houses today. At Rafiki Mwema we had a change of staff and a change of management. Joyce is moving to the role of Community Outreach Worker along with our new staff member Jacqueline. This will be developed to ensure that all the girls that have left us are checked up on and assessed on a regular (weekly or fortnightly) basis. I NEVER want another child to return to Rafiki Mwema because they have been violated again. That cannot happen anymore! They will also work with the boys project helping to locate the parents or families of our boys. It may be that some of our boys may be able to reconcile with their families – maybe not to live but to visit and build a relationship with. Others have had such horrific experiences that reconciliation may never happen but we need to try. No child should live in an institution – even a therapeutic one – if there is a safe home for them.
With so much going on it is scary that time is running out. I leave in 4 days and I am not ready to go. Every time I say goodbye I leave a little more of me here. This has been a magical trip – I have loved our volunteers and have laughed so much with Lorraine and Janet – and at other times sobbed like a baby at the stories and experiences shared. One of our boys ran away from Rafiki Familia today – he is safely back – and just thinking why he was on the streets in the first place was humbling and crushing. A horrid horrid story no wonder he is unable to understand that he is accepted at Rafiki Familia. It was so amazing to hear how our manager, Ray, welcomed him back like a loved son, holding his hand and making him feel safe. This is going to be a great therapeutic home.
John and I have made the decision that he will stay on for a few weeks to consolidate all the changes we have made. We have brilliant staff but we ask a lot of them. John will stay just a little longer until things are more settled in the changes in the houses. To say I am envious is an understatement – I love this place and really don’t want to go home next week, but I have no choice. I am so pleased that John is as supportive about the work we are doing here – who knew when I tricked him into coming all those years ago just how much our lives would change.