Adventures at Amani Cottage  

Trustees Tony and Gerry Denson have recently returned from their 28th visit to our homes. Find out what they got up to this time…

As the UK enters the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Kenya is in the season of the long rains. Dramatic lightning storms followed by drenching rain are a daily occurrence accompanied by the inevitable power cuts. In a country where time is “relaxed,” you can set your clock by nature. Here in Kisumu, tarmac roads are flooded in minutes, street traders huddle under plastic sheeting, and women use plastic bags to preserve their precious hair braids. Out in the rural areas, the sun-baked crops are thirsty for the rain, but the villagers mud houses with their grass roofs struggle to withstand the daily battering.

The children at the NLHT Amani Cottage are all safe and sound, and thriving. Newly rescued babies join the home weekly and older babies and toddlers are placed for adoption. Although adoption is much more culturally acceptable than it was, there is always the need for more adoptive parents. Fear still makes the adoption of HIV+ babies unlikely and the challenge and stigma of disability means that our children with special needs will never be adopted. On our trip we helped take 4 babies to hospital for HIV testing and happily, all of them were negative.

Sadly it isn’t only babies who need rescuing, during our stay 2 little boys aged 2 and 3, were brought in who were found abandoned on a city street. The older boy could only tell police their first names, ages and that they are brothers. Imagine their confusion and fear. Police are investigating but the chance of finding their family in this sprawling city is tiny. At least they have each other and NLHT will give them love, care and protection for as long as is needed. Hopefully a new family will be found for them if their own cannot be traced.

Valuable support

While we were there the Special Needs Unit at Amani Cottage received a 2 week visit from a British paediatric physio. Together with the newly appointed NLHT physio, she has assessed all the 20 children and their therapy needs. We now have 2 experienced British physios who have committed to come out with us every 6 months, so we are extremely grateful. It will be a great support for the staff as many of the children have very complex needs.

During our five weeks we also refurbished the playground, repairing and painting all the
equipment. We added a path for wheelchairs and walkers and a lovely swing hammock for the children who cannot access the regular swings. Indoors, we revamped the baby dayroom, fitting new curtains, painting and re-cover the furniture. We are becoming very well known now to local “fundis”, tradespeople such as welders, plumbers and carpenters, who helped out tremendously!

We took 8 of the Amani children for their first trip to the cinema to see the new Lion King movie, they were beyond excited! A motley crew we were, with our wheelchairs and walkers negotiating the lift and escalator, drawing stares from the bemused public. It was perhaps a sensory overload for a couple of our autistic children, but overall a memorable trip and we’ve all been singing the songs ever since.

The action didn’t end there we also helped out at the children’s swimming lessons as well as fitting in another trip out with 6 of the children to the Java for milk shakes and shopping. It has been a very busy but rewarding 5 weeks and we are already planning our next trip. The children and staff at Amani Cottage are like an extended family, we love them and going back to visit providing help and support where we can.

Visitors are always welcome at our homes – find out more about coming to help at one or all of our homes.