Our Visit to Kenya Begins…
PfP team flew out of the Kigali airport early in the morning on November 24th and arrived in Nairobi, Kenya mid-morning. We were picked up by Beth from the Smart Child Kenya organization. We drove north-west out of Nairobi to a smaller city called Limuru. Once we were settled in our hotel, we visited Beth’s rescue house for girls.
Beth’s story began when she was about 9 years old. Her father arranged to sell her into marriage to a man who was 78 years old. Before she was to marry, it was arranged that she be circumcised (FGM) in preparation for her role as wife and mother. Beth ran away and found a position with a family doing laundry for 12 members of their family. She recalls that at her age of 9, her duties to the family were too much for her and she once again ran away to find safety. She was taken in at a rescue home for the remainder of her youth, but never went to school or got any formal training. Today, Beth is happily married to a truck and taxi driver. They have two children of their own and a small rural home on his family land. Beth taught herself English and many other skills like sewing, gardening and public speaking.
In 2014 Beth decided to open her home to girls who need a safe place to escape from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and being sold into early marriage. She works primarily with a traditional Maasai village about 2 hours from her home. The elders from this village, along with the Deputy Headmaster of the local school, often call Beth to pick up girls who are being abused or are going to be sold. Both men are against this treatment of girls.
A few days before we arrived, Beth told us there was pounding at her door in the middle of the night. Her husband opened the door and there stood a young girl about 5 years old. She had been abandoned at Beth’s house. The your girl’s name was Beatrice. When we arrived, Beatrice was getting used to being part of a group of 17 other girls (and a few boys) in the house.
Smart Child Kenya - Rescue House
The PfP team spent the day at Beth’s house playing with the younger, rescued girls, preparing beans from their garden and getting a tour of the compound. While Steve and Michael helped out around the compound, I helped Beth sew reusable, cotton sanitary napkins. She had to get about 60 additional napkins made before our trip to the Maasai school and village the next day. Beth was invited to give a talk to the girls and hand out a pair of underwear along with 2 sewn sanitary napkins to each girl.
On November 26th, Beth took Michael, Steve and I, along with her husband to the Matonyo Primary school outside of Oleserian Nasiku, a Maasai village. There we had a secret meeting with the headmaster and the village elder. There was a 12 year old girl at the school who needed a safe place to live. She was scheduled for circumcision on Friday and marriage shortly after the event. Her family was going to be given 2 valuable cows in exchange for her to marry a local village man old enough to be her father. That would be the end of her schooling and her childhood. After Beth interviewed her teacher, the headmaster and the village elder, it was arranged she would pick the girl up on the way to school on Monday morning and take her back to her rescue house in Limuru.
In order for Beth ensure the girls finish their education, she finds each girl a sponsor who then pays for the girls’ educations through primary and high school.
Beth is running out of room in her house and is trying to find donation money to build a larger building to house the girls. She needs money for food, water, clothing and supplies.
Maasai Village Visit - Oleserian Nasiku
We all drove early in the morning towards a traditional Maasai village in the district of Naroko. We first had to s called top at the local school, called Matonyo Primary School, to have a meeting and for Beth to give a hygiene presentation to the girls between ages 9-12. The school gathered the girls in a classroom and Beth spent time talking about menstrual hygiene, staying in school during their menses, and finishing their education. She talked about the dangers of FGM and who to talk to if they knew they were to undergo the procedure in their village. Beth touched on the ways to avoid rape and what to do if there was negotiations to have them marry during primary school.
After our visit to the school, we were invited by the village elder to come to the village of Oleserian Nasiku for the day. During our visit, Beth also gave the same talk and passed out underwear and hand sewn sanitary napkins to the women.
The people in the village are a nomadic tribe and often moved to where their goats and cattle can graze. Their areas of travel were all experiencing a 6 month drought. All the ponds and steams had dried up, along with any collected rain water. No crops could grow in the area. Not only were they in need of water, but also food.
Beth and our team from Potters for Peace offered to pay for a tank of water to be delivered to the community. When it arrived, people came to fill their gerry cans from the tank. (see pictures)
In celebration of us visiting, the Maasai elders slaughtered a goat and cooked it over a fire. They also made us a stew from goat meat, including the intestines, mixed with fresh blood. It was a great honor to have this dish served to us. They gave us traditional Maasai shawls to wear. Michael and Steve received the traditional red, black and white plaid and I received a large cotton shawl that women normally wear.
After the meal they invited us into the house of the first wife of the community elder (he had 3 wives). They served us 100 proof spirits and we discussed the community’s needs of rain water collection for drinking, needing a new latrine and a water tank. (see pictures)
November 27 was the last day we planned to spend in the Limuru area. We said our good-byes to Beth and the children at Smart Child Kenya (see pictures) and met Kista Zenice who would accompany us to the Kisumu area of Kenya near Lake Victoria.