by Virginia Sowers
ChildFund Community Manager
As I travel the back roads of Kenya this week with the ChildFund Study Tour visiting projects outside Nairobi, I have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
At each stop, entire communities have turned out for us—cheering, singing, dancing, drumming and grasping our hands tightly. “You are very, very welcome,” they say again and again.
Although these children and their families are living in some of the poorest areas of Kenya, their hospitality is unmatched as they greet the 29 ChildFund sponsors and four staff members, including Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO.
ChildFund Kenya’s national office and area staff have taken much time and gone to great effort to immerse us in the communities and for us to see a rich variety of programs.
As we travel to early childhood centers and community centers, children and youth confidently tell us firsthand how ChildFund is impacting their lives.
We’ve had magical moments all week—shy smiles and exuberant laughter from tiny children in red-and-white gingham school uniforms; lively songs, poems and skits that demonstrate commitment to children’s rights; and heartfelt stories from those coping with HIV/AIDS.
One of my “wow” moments was planting a tree seedling at the Wamunyu ChildFund project office grounds. When we entered the compound, it was amazing to see little placards with each of our names marking pre-dug holes for our trees to be sunk into Kenyan soil.
A youth representative of the Wamunyu Self-Help Group explained that proceeds from the tree nursery have helped fund the group’s efforts to address unemployment issues among youth while helping protect the environment. With ChildFund’s help, the group is promoting youth education and vocational training while participating in community improvements.
As I washed the red dirt from beneath my fingernails and surveyed our group’s work planting nearly 40 trees, I felt so very welcome.