My experiences from Kenya

In January and February, many people leave for holidays in equatorial Africa to enjoy the season of warmth and drought, to rest on the beaches, to challenge themselves by climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro, or to enjoy the adventures close to the wild animals on Safari. I had the opportunity to experience Kenya a bit differently. Together with other enthusiasts, I joined Dana Feminová on her regular work travel for Center Narovinu.

Since I have been working for Center Narovinu for many years now as a volunteer and a coordinator of the Adoption of African children project, I have gotten to know the history of this generally beneficial organization and its projects quite well. I have seen many photos of the construction of the community centre Island of Hope on Rusinga Island by the Lake Victoria and it has been a big dream of mine to visit it one day. And now this dream has come true. I was very pleased with what I saw and experienced. Since 2005, when the project was launched, an orphanage for almost 80 children, a kindergarten, an elementary school, an educational centre, and a clinic have been built there. All the buildings are equipped with solar panels which are used for water heating and obtaining electricity. The water is drawn from the Lake Victoria and it is processed and distributed all over the premises.

Currently, the centre is in the process of buying another estate that will be used for building a boarding school for 60 students- a project supported by the Slovakian government. Thanks to the sponsor, who has also financed the building of a sports ground for the children, the construction of a library and a computer lab are also being finished. Besides the ongoing construction of the new buildings, the focus has been shifted towards the general sustainability and economic self-sufficiency of the community centre and its improvement through the development of farming.  Currently, the centre is planning to start breeding fish in cages right in the Lake Victoria and to establish a workshop for making objects from soapstone which is mined in Kenya.

I was pleasantly surprised by the activity of the local community and their involvement in the life of the centre. To some extent it is caused by the fact that the schools aren´t attended only by the orphans who live here, but also by almost 300 children from the surrounding areas. During our stay, we visited a few more places where people, inspired by Island of Hope, try to actively approach and deal with the problems of their communities. New kindergartens, schools, and orphanages are being established and Center Narovinu cooperates with them through the Project of partnership between Czech and Kenyan schools.

One of my strongest experiences in Kenya was the visit of children living in Maragoli town- children, that me and my family have been supporting for quite a few years now. On our way to see them, we also attended a few meetings concerning the possible expansion of the farming activities at the community centre. That´s why we didn´t get to Maragoli until the afternoon. There we picked up the Kenyan coordinator Mary who took us to an all boys boarding school, which is attended by one of our adopted kids, 16-year-old boy Hillary. We were able to catch him during his PE class. He showed us the library with English and French books and a well-equipped computer lab. Hillary seemed to be really happy with his life at the boarding school; his satisfaction was obvious.

Unfortunately, we didn´t have time to see the whole school, because we also wanted to visit the second adopted child, a 10-year-old girl Faith, Hillary´s sister. She is living with her sister and grandparents in Mbale, suburban part of Maragoli, in a typical clay house with a metal roof. Behind their house, they have chickens and a little field with banana trees. After their father died, their mother left them, and they have been looked after by their grandparents ever since. It really moved me, when the grandmother thanked me for giving her grandchildren a chance at a better life. It reassured me of doing the right thing. I am happy, that Center Narovinu has been able to find so many adoptive parents, who together with other co-workers and sponsors donate their financial means, time, and energy in order to positively influence the lives of people from the poorest parts of Africa. I believe, that the number of enthusiasts, wanting to support the beneficial work of this organization, will keep increasing.

Finally, I have one big favour to ask the adoptive parents. Please, write letters to your children. It´s often difficult to find time; some of you are not confident enough about your English. But believe me, it´s beautiful to see the happy faces of the adoptive children, when they receive a couple of nice sentences, photos of their adoptive parents, or a small present. And when the luckier ones share their candy with the rest of the children, and they let them see their letter, and laugh together about the photos, one cannot overlook the sadness in the eyes of those, who have never received anything from their sponsor.

Helena Havlišová