Boy, was I glad to see the morning hours appear on my clock as I hardly slept a bit last night! I was anxious about today’s big day and just couldn’t fall asleep even though I was dead tired. So I was pleased indeed to see 6 am.
Justus was going to pick me up at 7am which turned into 7:20 before we could head off to Mama Tunza again. Saturday traffic was just the same and weekday traffic let me just say that!!
We arrived at Mama Tunza Children’s home in time as we still had a good hour to spend there. What I got to see nearly made my cry!!! As soon as our van arrived Susan came over and she looked dreadful! Yes, she was wearing a woolen jumper (it was fairly cold) but as soon as she leaned against me I could feel her ice-cold hands and because her shoes were soaking wet, her feet were freezing as well. No wonder she was trembling poor little thing. I could hardly hold the tears back. I asked the boy who seemed to be in charge, still a teenager himself, if he would give her some dry shoes so she was lead into the office where some teenage girls had started to dress the 6 children that were coming with us. This was also the place where they had stored the 4 bags of clothing I had brought with me. But I know that there weren’t that many clothes in there for the little ones. So Susan got a jumper and pants that were a few sizes too big for her but at least they were warm. She also got some socks and sport shoes that used to belong to my niece Zita.
As soon as she was dressed she came over to where I was sitting and wanted to sit on my lap. As soon as she sat down she leaned her head against me and sought some comfort. My other side was soon taken in by both Jackline and Moses who needed some TLC as well. Poor things! Who can blame them…
All of a sudden I asked if they had breakfast this morning and turned out that non of the 6 kids had!! So, off they went to the kitchen and had something to eat. After that meal Susan was like a different person!!! She was cheerful and happy. What warm clothing and food can’t do hey!! Simple things but definitely a necessity that’s for sure!! There was even time for some dancing and singing 🙂
Time to pack the gang and be on our way to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage on the other side of the city! And a very good thing we left so early as traffic was just unbelievable. I had thought that I had seen the worst but that sure wasn’t the case. There you have your regular two-way road with one lane in each direction (without markings of course). Traffic was completely jammed but what do Kenyans do instead of just staying behind each other?? They start overtaking each other so that all of a sudden we had three ‘lanes’ coming towards us and no more room for our direction!! They had even used our sidewalk!! Unbelievable. You would think that they would hurry up getting back into their own right?? Think again 🙂 But we did get there safe and sound and still in time. Mama Tunza had joined us as well, even though that wasn’t the plan and luckily enough I did not have to pay extra for her. Every one there looked and smiled at the kids and thought them to be so darn cute. They all wanted to have their picture taken with them..poor things were very uncomfortable!
We didn’t have to wait too long before the first load of baby elephants arrived. They came from inside the National Park and made their way very fast into the compound as there were two bottles of milk waiting for each elly. The kids looked at them with very big but weary eyes. They weren’t too sure what to think of these huge creatures. They definitely didn’t seem to be comfortable. When an elephant came too close they all backed up NSYNC 🙂 The keepers were telling us all about the elephants story and I could see that the children were getting bored, after all most only know a few words of English.
After the introduction the little ellies were lead back and a new pack arrived, the ‘older’ babies up to 3y. Again, they got fed their milk and their stories were told.
Mama Tunza herself was busy taking pictures and filming everything so she really had no eye for the kids. If it wasn’t for me telling them to come back and stay together they would have just walked around.
When the session was over we went back to the van and drove back in the direction of the orphanage. On our way we stopped at the grocery store to get some food. They each had some chocolate milk (which they loved), some bread products that I can’t remember the name off and Justus wanted to get them a sausage but they didn’t have any and it would take about 15 minutes to get them ready so we decided to get them some fries. Justus suggested it. I also bought them some apples as I wanted to give them some healthy food as well. I was not prepared for what I got to see next! The little angels turned into demons as soon as their food was given to them. Really, there were eating so fast, also putting pieces into their pockets and hurrying as they were afraid someone was going to get it from them. I had kept the fries until all the rest had been consumed and they nearly grabbed it out of my hands. They didn’t just take one fry at a time, no with full hands at once!! I had to yell at them to slow down and that there was enough for everyone before they slowed down.. a bit.. not much. I was sitting there in disbelief. Is this really how they need to eat everyday? Eating fast so you can get as much as possible? Turned out that after we had gotten back lunch was served at the home and they ALL had an entire plate of rice again!! I could never eat as much as they did!!
This made me sad though, very sad… Coming from Belgium and never really having to worry about when my next meal would be served and than seeing young children behave in this way. It is tough I can tell you that much!!!
Back at the orphanage I got to play a bit with the kids, walked around and was a human climbing pole. I needed a few more hands and laps for that matter 🙂 One of the boys came over to Susan and gave her something that she put into her mouth. Turned out that they share chewing gum!! I sure hope that by doing this they won’t transmit any diseases…
Valeria had arrived by now so I went into the office with her. I had asked her to make up a list with items they still need and she did just that, with quotes and all. I was able to tell her that the school uniform list will be bought on Wednesday! So 14 pre-school children will be able to go to school in the right uniform!! yeay!
Her other list, for the new benches and tables will be bought as well AND I still have some money left for grocery shopping and the 40 mosquito nets. I am telling you, we have been able to buy sooooo much, you have no idea!!!
Now time had come to say goodbye again but knowing that i’ll be back on Wednesday didn’t make it a dreadful byebye.
But my day was far from over!! Time to head back to the Sheldrick elly orphange for my private meeting with the little ones. One of the privileges of being a foster mum 🙂 Naipoki and Barsilinga are my babies and Murera is Patricia’s.
There I was awaited by our friends Kristel and Tamara and Tamara’s daughter Manon. And of course by Benson! Our guide/driver from our trip in December. It was great to see him again.
Time to go in and await the babies! First we were lead to the enclosure of the two orphaned rhinos and Murera, Patricia’s foster elephant, for she is not yet allowed or well enough to go with the other babies into the park. She is improving but far from good enough.
Soon the youngest babies arrived and went straight to their stable where they were awaited by their keeper and their milk bottles as well as some delicious green leaves. When they were all inside the older babies arrived and did the exact same thing 🙂 Wonderful to see how they know the way to their own stable. The youngest ellies hardly finished their bottle before collapsing from tiredness and were soon in a deep sleep. Some, like my Barsilinga was covered by another blanket. All the keepers stay in overnight with the babies!! They sleep on a matress in the stable close to the ellies. Like human babies they need lots of reassurance and they need to feel someone close by. If they were left alone they would panic in the middle of the night and become very upset.
I can’t praise the work and determination of these keepers enough!! Day and night they are together with these wonderful little creatures so they can grow up to be independent wild elephants again.. in many many years from now!!
Back in the Stanley now, after a lovely pasta dinner with my friends, finishing this blog, reading some mail and having packed my suitcase! Tomorrow I am off on my mini safari to Sweetwaters and Ol Pejeta conservatory. Can’t wait as you can imagine and may I ask you all to keep your fingers crossed so that I get to see some wild ‘painted’ dogs? Asante!