December 13-19. Chameleon.

Picking up Yeon from the airport early in the morning. Her flight is delayed so we wait and introduce ourselves to a British lady who is on her way to Tanzania. There she is – she has made it, and we are happy. I brief her about what Charity Travel has been doing in Kenya so far and she becomes a part of it. Let’s sketch that first week together, when Charity Travel becomes a teamplay. There are lazy days back home in Kayole, enjoying good conversations over lengthy breakfasts, taking cold and warm showers, sitting next to the hens on the roof overlooking this part of the capital, doing the groceries in the small shops, buying kerosine for the stove, getting home early enough to avoid nasty murderous thugs, making peace with the landlady whose patience declines with her methylated breath, traveling downtown in a crowded Matatu to catch up with our communications, indulging in Kenyan specialties like Tilapia, beef stew, and beans, all served with the inevitable pile of ugali, the Kenyan staple. We visit Duncan’s orphanage to do a tv-interview with KBC, which is never aired, probably thanks to our relunctance to pay them a fat bribe. The interview is conducted in an utterly unprofessional manner. A few journalists with an amateurish camera and an even more amateurish set of suggestive questions.

“How much did you donate today?”
-“Well, we do assess the necessity first, and then we…”
“What do you see here today? Poor malnourished kids right? Without proper clothing?”
The kids were standing right next to us in their beautiful uniforms, and they just had a rather copious meal. This is an orphanage that has to play a proud role as an example to all the other orphanages Vision Alive is going to work with in Kenya. Our Vision – to establish Community Excellence Centers, I will keep repeating it, to create useful linkages between communities so that their expertise in terms of income generating activities, in terms of how to deal with the community and convince them to cooperate with the center, in terms of writing proposals to CSR departments, and dealing with the hierarchical structures of Kenyan politics.
The KBC guys get from me a disappointing 1,000 Shillings that probably triggered them to dispose of the tape with me and Willis introducing Charity Travel and Vision Alive. I hope to find an echo of our passion in the heart of a journalist, because the movement of Charity Travel is something that is – unfortunately – more unique than you realize.

So, after that visit we go home with mixed feelings, and a couple of days later we are in Nakuru, where we visit yet another orphanage, and gather a large group of children in an ironsheet church. I buy them a meal (bread, bananas, juice, candies) and we present them the movie we use to tell them about their rights. It is a success again, and long-term cooperation with that orphanage is in the air. We have a great meal at Pauline’s place – Thank you! that gives us all the energy we need tomorrow when we travel to Kisumu to do the real thing – building our own orphanage from the ground.

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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