Our first week in Nairobi was spent in the love-filled, bustling home of Good Samaritan Children’s Home in the Soweto Slum of the Kayole district. Ms. Damaris is the director of the home, in addition to caring for the 54 children of the home, she coordinates with her daughter and extremely helpful staff to run the home and its associated school.
This home started its humble beginnings in 2004 when Damaris began caring for 2 found, starving children abandoned by their parents. Through many trials and tribulations, happiness and tears, and fueled by love and a desire to serve her Lord, she has now overseen the expansion of Good Samaritan into the home of smiling faces it is today.
Soweto, as Jenny has mentioned, is quite a different picture from Njabini. While the people have been nothing but warm, the backdrop of rolling green hills speckled with sheep has been replaced with wind-rustled piles of garbage and streams of sewage. The fields of maize and cabbage are replaced with stall after stall of basketed vegetables and used clothing. The streets are packed with sooty cars, no way on earth would motorbiking be advisable here.
That said, in this different world, we’ve found hope amidst hardship– underscoring the need for creative solutions to everyday dilemmas.
WATER IS ONLY AVAILABLE ONE DAY A WEEK, SOMETIMES. And the water for the rest of the week is of poor quality and limited access. Kenneth and Johnny tackled this problem by testing the current water sources to find the best possible water for handwashing/toothbrushing/possibly drinking and creating tippy taps for storage and easy access using reused found items in the area. (More info in their individual posts to come!)
FOUND: 6 DAY OLD BABY BOY, IN TRASH BAG. It is not uncommon in this area for neighbors, police, or the Good Samaritan family themselves to come upon an abandoned
newborn in places ranging from the home’s doorstep, to trash heaps, public restrooms, and the police station. Multiple lives have begun this way in Soweto, we hope they all flourish as well as the ones who have been taken in by GS.
THERE IS NO AMBULANCE, THERE IS NO 911. We learned a wheelbarrow is the swiftest way to bring a sick child to a nearby clinic. While Nairobi has ambulances and “999”, they do not serve the slum area and if they did, the hospital would not allow someone in without paying a fee first. Part of our education we share with all of our homes is a child healthcare and emergency prep class on the most common and basic health problems.
SIGNIFICANTLY MORE DISEASE, SIGNIFICANTLY LESS RESOURCES. Basic preventable/curable diseases are rampant, but knowledge of the diseases and furthermore, access to medicines can be challenging. The two most common illnesses we found here were ringworm (a misnomer for a common contagious fungal infection, in this case of the scalp) and suspected intestinal worms (actual worms growing in the digestive tract that eat nutrients otherwise absorbed). These illnesses cause a great deal of pain and shame to the many of the children, lowering self esteems, impeding nutrition and the ability to focus in school. We are working with this home intimately, to educate on these hardships, the appropriate treatments, and how to create a plan for purchasing them.
AN INFANT IN RESPIRATORY DISTRESS. Our project has never dealt directly with infants before, so in and of itself the youthfulness of this center is novel. The exchange of ideas is fascinating– when we arrived Saturday morning, we were told the smallest baby had difficulty breathing all night. In a resourceful manner, one of the dear friends at the orphanage siphoned out the infant’s obstructive mucous with her mouth. While perhaps a new approach, we are definitely learning that the way in which problems are solved here are based on instinct and managing with what you have. On a similar note, in our child healthcare class we touch on issues such a fever in an infant and signs that one must head to the hospital. On a return visit in August, infant suction bulbs will also be donated.
In addition to working through these very unique situations to us but familiar ones to the caregivers, we provided the same quality of care and services as we did to Flying Kites in Njabini, just from a new perspective.
XOXO — Lisa