I first came to Kenya in 2007 as a volunteer to work in an orphanage in western Kenya. I was 19 years old back then and full of enthusiasm and motivation to help others. Soon I started to realize that “helping” wasn’t that easy and that sometimes “help” wasn’t even wanted. In the orphanage I didn’t really know what to do but to play with the kids. I mean – what do I know that the kenyan women working there don’t know? I was a 19 year old Austrian who had just finished school. I had no idea how to wash 100 baby underpants with only little water in a basin on the floor. I had no idea how to cook Ugali for a hundred kids because first of all: WHAT IS Ugali? and second of all: I wouldn’t even have the strength in my arms to prepare Ugali for so many people. (Ugali is a dish of maize flour cooked with water to a dough-like consistency)
I have to be honest… until today I am struggling with the question what kind of “help” is really useful and if it is actually wanted. Of course it depends on the situation but I think the only thing “we” (the people from the so called “first world”) can do is to support people in education and give them the opportunity to find a way to care for themselves and become independent from external support.
This is a very very delicate subject and I have made the experience that whatever opinion you have, there is always someone criticizing it because people are still fighting over what is the right approach.
I’ve never intended to do this project the way it is today. In the beginning I only wanted to pay school fees for Benta but then there was just so much more to do. This project happened because I was so personally involved with the lives of those kids and I wanted to make a change. I didn’t want to see them suffer anymore so I had to do something. I am happy that I could help them and that they can live a peaceful and healthy life. Some people might say what I do is only like a drop in the bucket but I prefer a drop than just sitting here and waiting for other people “to do something”.
In my blog you will find texts that I’ve written during the whole procedure of becoming the legal guardian of the children. Many crazy things happened back then.
So if you’re interested in how we managed to build up our project you will find stories about that on that page. Unfortunately many of them are written in German language but I am going to upload some English stories very soon.