So I guess I should start somewhere near the beginning, and give a little of my background before I start posting. This is Dossi, the absolute love of my life. Our relationship transcends that of me being a sponsor that sends money. For me and him, the money is the least significant part of it. It sends him to a good school and it is preparing him for his future. He does not ask for what he does not need, and does not expect lots. (Although, like any big sister or mum, I do love to spoil him every so often. Though, truly being my son, that can be easily done with some kind of cake.)
I met Dossi in February 2009. I started working at an Aids Orphanage in Bamburi, just North of Mombasa Island (MSA), for my first week in Kenya. But, although the work is of great importance, I felt like a glorified babysitter. I wanted to get my teeth into a project, I was not there for kisses and cuddles, but to attempt to make an impact on even one persons life. So after badgering my volunteer coordinator they allowed me to move to a project for street children that I had been itching to get involved in. The project itself was a sort of half way house. Boys could come in off the street and, as long as they were sober and willing to live by the rules, they could have a bed, food and lessons right there and then. This project was tough, the boys aged from 4 to 20, most on glue, or in the stages coming off of it. Yes some attached themselves to you, wanting affection and love, but many saw you as an enemy. They would not talk to you, joke in swahili and make rude innuendo and gestures. For this reason, at this point, they had stop admitting volunteers there and they (on average) didn't stay longer than a week or two and the inconsistency wasn't good for the kids.
From my first day there, I fell in love. I wanted the challenge. For those next three months i stayed there on average 8 am to 9 pm. Traveling out from MSA to the interior where the center was situated. Teaching school lessons, art, health, sport and helping the boys with cooking, cleaning and their English. We would sit for hours talking, hearing the boys stories as they began to trust me more. Earning their trust was hard, and not easily kept, but for me it stood as a testament to the work that whilst they trusted me like a sister, they respected me as a teacher and elder. Although some were my age.
So whilst this is a brief overview, and in no way tells you what I have and continue to experience, this is where it all started. I learned very quickly that although my knowledge of Africa and Charity may have spanned most peoples thanks to my fathers work, I still have many learning curves.
For me one of the most prevalent life lessons I learned is of the western attitude to charity. We seem to believe if we come in with money and gifts it will help. Yes those smiles may seem endless, but they disappear as quickly as those volunteers left. I am not disparaging volunteers, I am wanting to confront the lack of knowledge we have in the West. That is what I want to do in this blog. It may be my inane ramblings, but I hope you read them and it makes you think. You may learn something, or question something. But the basis of how I see Charity and this world is that we can all do something, we just have to have the want. And if you do not, it is time to search for it. As we are only as strong as our weakest link. Question if that is you.