Tea With Girls In The Safe House & Past Students Visit WkW Centre
Women for Women in Africa and Wanawake kwa Wanawake (Kenya) offers a haven of safety in many ways.
An invitation to tea with 6 girls living in the Safe House while it awaits final documentation for its upgrading and new wing, was a time to listen to the stories of the girls and understand why living in this house is so important to them.
The Safe House is a 5 minute walk from the Wanawake kwa Wanawake Centre. It is in a gated community so very safe, surrounded by lovely homes and a street with trees and flowers. When the building is finished it will be home to some 20 girls with an appropriate matron.
Previously, it was thought the house would be for small children, but the Kenyan government is not granting registration for supposed ‘orphanages’ because of child trafficking and abuse. However, it was then thought that the house would be better used just for girls. Girls who are orphans, at risk and homeless.
“Tea” was a very happy afternoon, enjoyed by Leonida, Therese (my daughter) and me. One of the girls is studying catering and had prepared the very best samosas and spring rolls – they could be on the menu of any Melbourne café.
But what really touched us was the thanks of these girls that they live in a safe environment and are no long afraid. Some are going to college/university and can catch a matatu to the gate and walk home in safety – not worrying about walking in the Kibera slum, maybe in the dark, where they are certainly not safe. The other girls are volunteering at the WkW Centre and will be starting their courses in September. In the school holidays and mid-term a number of younger girls join the house – girls who would not have a home to go to in Kibera. The bigger girls care for the younger ones and it’s a very happy community.
When renovations/ building commences on the house, the girls will move to rented accommodation for 8 or so months. When the building is completed then it will be home to 20 girls from the age of 10 to when they have completed their post secondary course, or are able to live in safety elsewhere. The girls will be given welfare support, counselling, and learn to be part of a ‘family’. It will indeed be a ‘Haven’….the name we hope to add to the house.
Funds are needed to complete the upgrade of this house and we would be very grateful for any donation to ensure that the house meets the required standard. We have $250,000 but will be needing $400,000 to upgrade and furnish. Giving to this house is giving a home and a future to a girl. All donations are tax-deductible and all will go directly to the safe house.
The stories the girls told us about their lives remain their stories, they are personal and are not to be shared but as one girl did say – “I lived in one small room with my 4 cousins, all boys, and my uncle – I never felt safe – thank you for giving me a home where I can study and enjoy the company of other like girls who are understanding – this is the most wonderful time of my life”.
The WkW Centre is an amazing, happy place and everyday boys, girls, men and women come to share their stories, to ask for help or during my stay there to say ‘thank you’. One boy came every afternoon after college to greet me ‘his grandmother’ as he has been sponsored by a family member – he never asked for anything but just wanted to say ‘thank you’….his mother came too and his small brother. On the walk into Kibera, he held my hand and made sure that I was not going to slip on the path full of sludge and goodness knows what else. He also spoke at the Baraka school we visited, and told the students there ‘I attended this school when I was young, and I am now at college, you can be too. If you study hard you can do anything you want to do.’ One child asked is that true?.
Life continues to be difficult in Kibera but the WkW Centre is a place of security, hope, peace and indeed a haven from the assaults of the slum. During holiday times it is also a refuge for 200 or so children who come every day to study, have remedial support, play and ‘eat’ morning tea and lunch….maybe the ‘food’ is indeed the best part of the day.
Thank you for contributing to the education support of these children and for giving them a future – so many now are at university/college, many have graduated and the alumni young people come back to tell their stories and to give the children the hope that they too will have a future. I hope to see you at the ‘Lion King’ on 21st July.
Marguerite Ryan AM