AID FOR ORPHANAGE IN KENYA – A WENATEX EMPLOYEE REPORTS ON HER SOCIAL COMMITMENT ON-SITE IN AFRICA

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Social commitment is not only something close to the heart of the owner family, but also by many of the employees at Wenatex. A long-term employee of the company demonstrated an extremely high level of social commitment when she worked for a while on a voluntary basis at an orphanage in Kenya. She wrote a personal report in which she describes her work at the orphanage:

 

 

 

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It was clear to me for a long time that I would at some time in my life support a social project in Africa, and now I am able to realise this desire. I’ve been here in Kenya since November 2013 and work on a voluntary basis in a small orphanage. The children are aged from 8 to 18 years of age and all of them have lost their parents in various tragic ways.

Julie & Moses Chege, two Kenyans who have spent some time living and studying in the USA, independently founded the “Valley of Tumaini” orphanage near Nakuru in the Rift Valley in 2005. Their initial idea was to take in a few orphans. However, because there are so many orphaned children here in Kenya, living on the streets or in slums, the orphanage now looks after 21 youngsters who don’t have anyone else in this world, except their siblings nergy into looking after all of these kids, day after day. For Julie & Moses, who everyone here lovingly calls Mum & Dad, it was and is a matter of course that they help their fellow human beings. They work really hard in order to support their own 3 plus another 21 Tumaini kids. At the end of the day they hardly have any time or money for thewho mostly also live here. The house in which they live is rented and a nanny also works and lives here with her small son. The nanny puts all her emselves. I totally admire their commitment, because how many people would sacrifice their relatively high living standards and so-called luxuries, just to be able to give to those who have nothing in this world of plenty. At first I felt a lot of pity about the fate of these children, but I now know that although growing up in the relatively comfortable environment of the orphanage is no real substitute for the love of the deceased parents, it is definitely a caring and loving community that serves as a kind of surrogate and also encourages the versatility and tolerance of each child. The biggest problem is the constant lack of funds that are needed to support a carefree childhood and promising future for the youngsters.

I discovered the “Valley of Tumaini” project on the internet and I was very warmly welcomed into this big family. The children were a little shy at first and spoke to me only in quiet voices. Meanwhile I have become a part of the family and I really notice and feel how they have taken me into their hearts. Since I am neither a teacher or a doctor or anything like that, I was at odds with myself for a long time wondering what I could contribute to such a project. Now I realise that the contribution that I make here is to spend my time with them and to be there for them, to support an intercultural exchange and to show them that even people outside Africa are aware of their fate.

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I took a suitcase full of games and toys etc. with me and, one after another, I take out a game to play with the kids. It’s always incredibly touching to see how happy this makes them. They had never seen some of the things before and I loved to see how I was able to make them smile. Now I understand all those parents who say they can forget and forgive immediately when their child smiles. One of the nice things about it is that they can find delight in the smallest of things, such as my old portable CD player. It’s an absolute pleasure to witness this joy, because even small children back home in Austria have so much more than they really need, which leads to the result that things are taken for granted and pleasure over gifts automatically lessons with time. Just for comparison: Just as many other children around the village, the Tumaini children have to fetch water themselves. They have to carry it home on their heads, because the orphanage and most of the houses hereabouts don’t have running water.

However, the biggest problem here in Kenya ist hat the government doesn’t cover the costs of school education. Hence, the number of uneducated children and adults is unfortunately very high. It’s common knowledge that you can only get a better job and escape poverty through education. Many parents can’t afford the sometimes extremely high school fees because they don’t earn enough and the little money that they do have is needed for their daily survival. In addition to the school fees, all school children here also need their own school uniform and utensils, which are not included in the school fees. At the beginning, I wanted to take the children out on excursions to experience the beautiful nature of Kenya and to distract them from their fate a little. But now I’ve been here a while, I realise that it’s much more important to support the children with school fees and groceries. Thanks to donations from my friends, people I know and some of my Wenatex colleagues, I was able to pay for the first school semester (of three in one year) for the Tumaini kids and that is probably the most sustainable and important contribution that I can make. Even if some of the kids aren’t exactly keen on going to school, just like many European children, I try to make them aware of the fact that education is important for their own future and for that of Kenya.

 

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Since I have been supporting the Salzburg organisation “Panairobi – an association for street children in Nairobi” for a number of years and since I’ve been here in Kenya and was able to personally acquaint myself with the office, the staff and the kids and adolescents, and since I was able to see the Mathare slum for myself, I decided to make another contribution that was close to my heart.. For many years now, the boys and girls of the orphanage have wanted to go on a trip somewhere out in the nature, but it wasn’t affordable. The kids have often repeated this wish, which seemed so important to them. So, without further ado, I decided to finance the trip myself. At last this modest wish could be fulfilled for the kids!!

Together with around 30 Panairobi kids and adolescents, we went hiking on Mt. Longonot, a volcano in the beautiful Rift Valley! In the bus on the way back from our excursion to Nairobi, one of the boys spoke to me, on behalf of all the other children, thanking me very warmly for my general support and for making the excursion possible! I get goose bumps even now when I think of those kind words and the applause! The whole event was and is all the more touching, because shortly before this the founders had told me a few stories concerning the tragic fate that some of these kids had experienced. They don’t show it, but some of them have really been through hell in their hitherto short lives! At least this day we were able to distract them from the past and charm happy smiles on their faces!

Since I did a lot of thinking about the project even before coming to Africa, I decided to create a respective website. I would like to invite anyone who is interested in finding out more about my project to simply visit my website: www.sanyes.at

…and even if it is only a drop in the ocean, every drop counts
and lots and lots of drops will form a cloud
and that cloud will bring much needed rain
and that rain will make things grow and blossom in vivid colours…

I am personally very happy that I had the courage, despite all the “ifs and buts” and that I was able to raise the capital to take this step. And I am grateful that I can be here in order to make a small contribution toward improving the world. However, without Wenatex I wouldn’t have been able to realise this project at all, that’s for sure, and I would like to just one more thing: “Asante sana”, which here in Kenya means “thank you very much!”

Find out more about this project on www.sanyes.at