Sylvia Costantini’s trip to the Lewa Children’s Home, Eldoret
16th September 2012
I travelled to the Lewa Children’s Home by bus on August 30th, after having spent a few days in a Catholic mission in Karungu, on Lake Victoria.
Phyllis Keino, the founder of Lewa Children’s Home, was waiting for me when I arrived in Eldoret. We then drive another thirty minutes to reach Baraka Farm, the 200-acre cheese and dairy farm that hosts the Lewa Home.
When I arrived, the children were getting ready for bed. On the way to my room I passed the dormitory and glimpsed a flurry of small bodies jostling into their beds, which were lifted up in neat rows. By the time I got back from dropping off my suitcase, it was too late. The kids were all tucked in. Exhausted by a long day on the road, I had a delicious dinner with Phyllis and Jos, and then went to bed. Outside my window the night air hummed with insects.
“The sun belongs to those who wake up early”
6.00am is when the children’s home comes to life. Young voices trickle through the dormitory, then the hallway, gradually gaining numbers and force until there’s a blown cacophony in the playground.
The older kids-age five and up-don’t need much help getting ready. But the toddlers-and there are dozens of them-are shepherded through an assembly of morning routines. The kids are soaped and rinsed by a staffer who sends them onto the next station where they get dried, one after the other, using a single towel that gradually dampens. At station three, the kids are rubbed with body oil and assigned their clothes for the day.
First day at school
10th October 2012
As in many other schools around the world, your economic background doesn’t go unnoticed. Phyllis does what she can to level the playing field, but in the end, she can only afford the essentials. No fancy shoes, no fashionable jeans, no accessories or jewellery.
So, when we walked the Lewa children to Kipkeino School for the beginning of the new semester and I saw them carrying their belongings in plastic bags, my heart sunk. The other students were taken to school by their parents. And they had all the latest accessories that give kids their age a social edge.
I hope we can keep helping Phyllis so that she doesn’t have to worry every single day about how shes going to feed her children or pay for their medical bills and that one day, little girls at Lewa can have a Disney princess backpack, or a Hello Kitty toothbrush holder like other children their age.