So, this is my last post. I should have done this on Sunday night when everything was fresh in my noggin. But fairly predictably I was a bit of a mess at that point and it would likely be a 2 page rant on why its stupid that you cant put 1 year old babies called grace into your hand luggage.
On Saturday we decided to have a special day with the children and staff to say thankyou for putting up with us. In the morning I made hats with all of the children (including Joy, despite having to send her to time-out about 4 times for eating the glue repeatedly.) Meanwhile Grace was refusing to be put down and a french girl appeared from nowhere and tried to tell me her life story. Try stapling 20 hats onto small, wriggling people while balancing a baby on your hip and nodding animatedly to a conversation you stopped following half an hour ago. Brian nearly came away with one less ear.
For lunch we had chicken. CHICKEN. Chicken is like a free all you can eat pass to mc Donalds in Kenya. The children’s plates were piled ridiculously high, each of them finishing every last crumb. There were a LOT of nappy changes that afternoon. I avoided every single one. After the children were looking a little less queasy we decided it was time for pre-bedtime musical bumps, chairs and statues (we don’t do things by halves.) We’d practiced these the night before for practical reasons (bare in mind Mimi and I spent a good hour trying to teach the older children to Mexican wave and it still resulted in impromptu jumps, rolls and belly-dancing. The rules of games aren’t their strong point.) It was an amazing last evening, dancing wildly with my babies. I will openly admit that I got in a genuine sulk when I came out 3rd on musical statues; it’s hard to stay frozen when Cobu’s trying to pull down your skirt. I was amazed to realise that worldwide, musical chairs always ends in tears, exacerbated by the walk of shame to the ‘losers’ bench. It was all too much for little Hope who needed consoling with a lollipop after being kneed out the way of the winning seat by a certain moses.
The night before, mum and I had prepared small party bags for each of the children; lollipops for the older ones, pop corn for the babies, cars for the boys and skipping ropes for the girls (yes, we actively gender stereotype) and lots of sweeties. So by 7pm we had a room full of ridiculously sticky, hyper and still-full-of-slightly-too-much-chicken children.
Unfortunately, this was also the night I got all sentimental and decided I couldn’t possible sleep without Gracey by my bed. So by 9pm I settled into bed all happy because I had my baby and put in my ear plugs. These ear plugs are like solid, they block out the noise of 26 children at 5am and have been my miracle for the last couple of sleep-deprived weeks. This gives you an idea of the level of Grace’s wind which she had every 30 seconds and I could hear through the ear plugs. Now I love that girl, probably far far too much, but my love was officially tested that night. By about 2am when she shifted upside down and started farting on my face I decided enough was enough and decided I’d carry her around. While picking her up I realised she had a really wet nappy. like.. really wet. I won’t go into the details because, well because this is my last blog and I’d quite like to leave on a non-nausea-inducing note… but put it this way.. turns out she didn’t have wind… the excessive chicken had in fact given her explosive diarrhoea. Through her nappy, through her ‘Guns and Roses’ vest (I didn’t dress her that night may I add), through her babygrow and directly onto my pillow. I dont remember much seen as it was one of those middle of the night blurry memories but I do remember grabbing my headtorch (yay to power cuts), sticking her (nicely cleaned up) over my shoulder, wrapping the nappy up in an old ‘west briton’ mum brought and scouring the babies room for pampers and babygrows while trying not to wake the other poopers. Mum remembers it in the form of me ranting down the corridor something along the lines of “AND EVERYONE SAYS IM TOO YOUNG TO ADOPT GRACE,WELL I BET THEY WOULDN’T CHANGE A CHICKENED NAPPY NOW WOULD THEY? WHY DON’T I WAKE MUM AND SEE IF SHE’D CHANGE YOUR CHICKENED NAPPY? HUH? AND I EVEN FOUND A NON GUNS AND ROSES VEST, WHAT MORE DO THESE PEOPLE WANT.”
I may recall that slightly.
Taming Eunice's hair... no easy task
I think i rubbed off on her
Grace barring my calls
The next morning was probably the hardest of my life. It was decided Grace would go to church so I could stop dramatically weeping long enough to pack. What I don’t get, is how that girl spends an entire month crying every time I give her to someone else, but the one moment, our separation moment, when I could do with her dramatically crying in a ‘look how cruel the world is to separate us’ way, she just grins and toddlers off to the car. Whatever babe. So I hugged, and snivelled on the shoulders of all the other children (despite the naughties/babies who stayed home) and waved all 14 off in one car. My last image of them driving off was of Brian, his finger stuck high up his nostril and waving with his free hand… that boy is all charm. We left about 11.30 in a mad dash of “JOY WHERE DID YOU PUT MY OTHER SHOE”, “I FORGOT MA CONTACT LENSES” and “IF GRACE EVER POOS OUT MY MEMORY STICK I’D LOVE IT POSTED BACK TO ME” conversations. And then we were off, with our faithful driver teddy to the shack-of-a-hut-in-a-big-field that is Kitale airport. Essentially that whole trip was a bit of a nightmare.. it wasn’t until we’d been sat there for 4 hours that the crew finally told us that our plane had “decided to go to Mombasa first” and that “once here would in fact be landing in a different Nairobi airport.. we hope you dont mind.”
Finally after a 48 hour journey and multiple break downs of culture shock we arrived in London. Its safe to say that it gives your brain a blow to leave a deserted field surrounded by maize fields on a 8-seater aeroplane, where nobody knows or cares what they time or date is, and arrive (after a quick stop in Nairobi and Amsterdam) to a manically busy London city.. people rushing around, shouting down their phones and elbowing everyone in their attempt to get wherever they’re going faster than the person in front of them. A good few minutes passed while me and mum stood in shocked silence just looking at the crazyness of the western life. Suddenly we were expected to avoid eye contact, walk as if we’re trying to shake of a persistent stalker and speak in hushed, hurried voices. It all got too much for me and I had to take comfort in a large quarter pounder meal, the only thing to cure a culture shocked brain.
Everyone keeps asking me if I’m happy to be home. And my general answer is that I am, but I’d rather be at my African home. I miss them all so much… mimi and bill, the staff, the children, and the naked homeless man who always tried to sell me maize on our early morning town trips. Thankyou all so much for the most incredible month of my life. I’ll be back, with more ear plugs and having learned the Swahili for ‘if you wee on my again, I will wee on you back’ for Cobu’s sake. Thankyou also to everyone at home for reading this, praying and putting up with my Kenya-obsessed stories on my return. Im not going to write an appeal to persuade people to ‘sponsor the children’ because that rarely has the desired effect.. but I came to Mercy to work with ’26 abandoned children’ and ended up falling in love with 26 individual personalities… knowing what triggers them into strops, what makes them laugh and even putting up with listening to their favourite nursery rhyme dvd every night for 4 weeks (to me, that’s an undying display of love.) And I want nothing more than these 26 beautiful little people to be given every chance they can have in life.. so if you do want to support Mercy or even find out more about what they’re doing then go here….