# Update on Pamela and Ken’s visit November 19 to March 20
It was a remarkably busy trip for Pamela as she dealt with a few management issues and oversaw the preparations for Christmas
The purpose of this short article is to bring you up to date with Kindfund’s children’s work in Northern Kenya and a recent visit to Ethiopia
In November 2019 Pamela travelled to Kindfund Kenya to be with the children at Christmas. She
was joined at the beginning of December by Lea a teenage Austrian girl keen to share some of her year helping needy children in Africa, before going to University. During her stay at Ngaremara and Wamba Lea made an immense contribution to the work; having come to Kenya well prepared with material and ideas to engage with and spend quality time with the children You can read more about Lea and her experience in the previous News blogs.
It was a remarkably busy trip for Pamela as she dealt with a few management issues and oversaw the preparations for Christmas ensuring that every one of our 125 children received an appropriate Christmas gift. In this she was supported by Esther and other staff members and some of our teenage children. All went well and the children all received a small gift and a selection of items in their ‘Christmas stocking.’
Pamela was keen to share with all our children so a few days before Christmas, accompanied by Lea they visited our most remote home at Ndikir, in Marsabit County and 180kms North of Isiolo. The children were pleased to see them. They shared together and the children sang some hymns and repeated memory versus they had been learning. Lea’s creativity was appreciated as the children learnt new craft skills and each one received a gift from Lea of a pair of sunglasses.
Returning to be at Wamba for Christmas Pamela encouraged the staff and children to prepare a drama of the nativity which they were able to perform on Christmas day. It was a high point for Pamela, and she was so thrilled to witness the response of the teenage children as they discussed and rehearsed the drama. It was a time for bonding with the children in the home and appreciating the several older young adults who visited her at the home to share how they were getting along outside in the wider world. Here at Wamba as at Ngaremara Lea quickly settled to a routine with the children introducing them to new and constructive activities and songs.
After Christmas they returned to the home at Ngaremara to share more time with the younger children before Pamela travelled 110 kms South to Nanyuki on the Equator to await my arrival on New Year’s Day.
Travelling over the year end proved to be a good decision as my ticket was upgraded and I enjoyed a little luxury on the flight from Amsterdam. It was good to be with Pamela again after being apart for 6 weeks. We stayed 2 nights at Nanyuki before returning to Ngaremara to prepare for a Kindfund Team Management meeting on 4th. A good opportunity for us to be updated on the work and issues at each home and for me to touch on key management themes in relation to our policies – child protection, education, and employment contracts etc. Bosco one of our local trustees, had attended a conference and AGM of the Children’s Homes Association of which we are a member. He updated us on their work and areas where they could assist.
Before leaving our home in N Ireland I had booked a visit to Ethiopia from 5th to 12th January as something of a surprise break for Pamela (this year is our 50th wedding anniversary) but also to meet a good friend of ours who had been inviting us to come and help him to start a work in rural Ethiopia. The Ethiopian calendar is 14 days behind our Western calendar so by travelling on 5th we would get to spend Christmas with our friend Mattewos (for 16 years a brother in Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity) and his family(wife and child). I will write further about that visit but in the meantime I would like to ask you to pray for direction in connection with Mattewos’ proposal to us to begin a work with orphans and poor children (something he is very experienced with from his earlier background), in a rural setting 250kms South of the capital Addis Abba.
Returning to Kenya we were busy as Pamela tackled many issues aimed at upgrading our children’s Kindfund experience. As many of you will have seen from sponsorship photos the children continue to thrive physically and we could see first-hand the benefits of a caring and loving environment for their development. Of course, like any large family we have problems with a few, and these require specific attention. The beginning of the calendar year heralds a new school year with all the activity around children moving up a year and transferring from nursery to primary to secondary and to polytechnic. This year was no exception with two teenagers to Secondary and four to Polytechnic.
Having been absent most of 2019 through some health issues I tackled a backlog of small projects which were aimed at upgrading our facilities. Managing three fairly large children’s homes, nursery and primary schools with sites running to c.30 acres in total requires a constant programme of maintenance and investment and I like to achieve as much as possible when in Kenya to reduce the risk of things going wrong. The result was we were on the road a lot between Ngaremara, Wamba and Ndikir.
One incident of interest was the car breaking down at a very remote spot on the road to Wamba. Of course, no telephone reception so I immediately started back towards the last village we had passed about 3 kms down the road, leaving Lea and Pamela to wait. I was soon able to stop a vehicle and obtain a lift to the point where the telephone would work. I called back to Archer’s Post to ask Mike the local mechanic to rescue us – something he has had to do on several occasions over the years.
One hour later, in the heat of the early afternoon, at the side of the road a matatu on the way to Wamba stopped and out stepped Mike. After a brief chat room was somehow made for me to ride back up to where I had left the car and Pamela and Lea – well almost. You can see Pamela having a go engaging front axle to four- wheel drive in the photo. Lea was amazed as this almost 73 yr old granny had started the car, turned it round and now needed four-wheel drive to get out of the sand to drive down to meet me. We dismissed the mechanic with thanks after he had checked around. The car continued for the next week until we returned to Isiolo and I had the clutch stripped out. The plate was in pieces and only a miracle had kept it on the road.
Time arrived for Lea to leave at the end of January and we travelled with her to Nanyuki from where we parted as she travelled on with Joseph, our good friend and taxi to the airport in Nairobi. A remarkable young lady who made a valued contribution punching well above her weight.
Just a week later it was time for Pamela to leave. Arriving home, she had time for a final week with her last aunt and cousins. Aunt Winnie at 90+ had in her own words, ‘Fought the good fight, kept the faith and finished the course.’ We will miss her.
In my last month I rushed to finish the work started while treating a chest infection which would not move despite a second antibiotic. At the same time news of the oncoming Covid 19 was beginning to occupy my mind. Despite this I managed to fit in a trip to the Samburu Safari park with our teenage boys organised by our friend John Doherty a world expert on the reticulated giraffe.
At the beginning of March, we welcomed Gillian while wondering about the gathering cloud of the virus which had not yet hit Africa. Some of you will have read Gillian’s blog on her experience. We give thanks that she was able at short notice three weeks later to return to N Ireland on 24th, the day Kenya was closing to protect the country from Covid 19.
However at this stage in early March we were still planning to bring our Primary School principal, Shalline over to Northern Ireland at the end of March, as part of an exchange with Dunclug Primary in Ballymena, and as I took my leave of the children, staff and Gillian, Shalline travelled with me to Nairobi to visit the British Council and present herself and visa application documentation. However, it was not to be as Covid 19 took over world affairs.
I flew back to Ireland on 12th March the day the first Covid 19 case was detected in Kenya and to a rapidly changing world which demanded immediate action in Kenya to protect our children. I will write more on that later.
Give thanks for a productive and team building few months