I can’t believe we are coming to the end of our trip – it has gone far too fast and I’m just not ready to go! We have had such brilliant friends and volunteers join us this trip – including of course Janet Cassidy. I can’t really imagine what it would be like without her here now – very odd indeed! The volunteers who have spent the last few weeks with us, Lorraine, Garry and Rachel and Sammy are due to leave with us early on Tuesday morning – and I think they are going to struggle big time! They have totally embraced our projects and have spent so much time playing with both the girls and boys. Sammy has played in the boys football team (in the winning team no less on Saturday!) and has spent hours teaching our kindergarten class their alphabet. Rachel has skipped, plaited, sung and danced with all our girls and today endured Mary brushing her hair – we are all hoping it wasn’t the ACTUAL dogs brush that was being used! Garry and Lorraine have just thrown themselves into everything – including the dog compound, chicken coupe and toilets in Garry’s case! All the girls, boys and Aunties and Uncles will miss them greatly.

We have continued with our full on schedule, apart from lunchtime today when we went to Sunbird Lodge at Lake Elementicia – just stunning with some of the best birds around – paradise!

It’s so hard preparing to leave, especially leaving John here, but also when the girls are still opening up with their stories. One of our girls has been with us nearly 2 years and she told her story for the FIRST time ever this evening.

Imagine being under 8 years old, raped by a neighbor and when you go home to tell your family, your brother repeats the crime! Just horrific. But this brave little girl then had the courage to find a way of escaping from the house when her brother locked her and her younger siblings in doors and told them he was coming back to do it again. She ran away with her young family and survived in a very rough area, with no home, no money, no family and looking over her shoulder to see if her brother had found them. I simply cannot imagine doing that as an adult and most certainly not as a scared vulnerable little child. I continue to be in awe of these baby girls and their survival stories. The brutality of what has happened to them is undeniable but to see them emerge, just a little, as a strong young woman is humbling and empowering at the same time. She eventually returned to her home some considerable time later, to find her mother had emptied the house and moved away. A neighbor took her to the police station and they brought her to us. She doesn’t know where her sisters are and she wants to be able to find them. We will help this to happen. She deserves at least that for the pain and fear she has been through. And I have a cunning plan!

I have worried for a while about the distances some of our girls have geographically travelled before coming to Rafiki Mwema and how difficult it is to visit them regularly. We really do need a stronger vehicle to get to the remote areas – but we also have children who have returned to the slum areas of Nairobi and in town areas. So, we have employed a new member of staff , who will job-share with Joyce, to ensure a member of our team visits our girls who have gone home at least fortnightly. This will be done at school so the girls can speak more freely if they have any issues at home. I feel this is helping our girls to stay safe.

Another part of what we will offer is to track down family members of both our boys and girls. Our community workers will assess the benefit to the child of visiting or meeting their family and arrange for this.

One of the boys at Rafiki Familia was separated from his family in the troubles in 2007 and has never seen them since. He is a beautiful young boy who has lived 7 very tough years on the streets of Nakuru. I pray his family have survived and we can find them. I cannot imagine his fear and anxiety. We have to do what we can.

Small steps can make big pathways.