This year’s Valentine’s Day unlike any other, was quite exceptional and memorable.
I spent the day doing one of the most fulfilling and rewarding thing anyone can ever do. I got an incredible opportunity to join the Nawiri sisters community and visit Baraka’s children’s home based in Kibera Nairobi.
At first I was a bit skeptical in going due to the numerous terrible stories told of that area, however, that fear immediately went away when I reached there. Baraka Children’s home is not only a place of residence to these kids ranging between one year to eighteen years old, but also a center for them to learn and attend classes. The sole purpose of visiting Baraka was to spend quality time with the children, empower them, teach them vital skills as well as take donations and supplies. We went around 3.00 p.m. and upon arrival, we were instantly welcomed by a pleasant group of children who were so excited to see us.
The first thing we did was gather people together and began introducing ourselves, in which everyone was ecstatic about especially the children. Initially, we all resorted to only communicating in Kiswahili as we assumed that it was the language they were accustomed to. However, to our utter surprise, most of those kids could express themselves eloquently in English and more so, some even shared what they learn on a daily basis. Shortly after knowing each other, we then played many games such as: singing games, football and jump rope.
Even so, we cannot forget the stigma and taboo that surrounds menstruation that females are subjected to and the fact that openly discussing menstruation is frowned upon which further perpetuates stigma and discrimination.
Little has been done to address period stigma; to change perceptions around menstruation which is where Nawiri Sist3rs comes in.
This was rather nostalgic for me as those were the same type of games I engaged in when I was their age. The energy and joy displayed by them was overwhelmingly amazing and made us all feel at home. We played games for almost two hours straight and later on sat them down to have a chat. Talks revolved around the importance of education, self-love, menstrual health and constant reassurance of hope for them in the future. The last two things we did that completely warmed my heart was, teaching them how to make soap and delivering the donations; actions that made their caregivers swell up with so much emotion. Catherine, founder of Nawiri Sisters, took up the initiative and elaborately taught the kids how to make soap from scratch, as that would be a good way for them to generate incomes. It is worth noting that living in a children’s home is very challenging, literally it’s constantly trying to survive and thus finding ways to make money is critical.
Some children there use beads to make necklaces and bracelets for sale, therefore, adding soap as another source of income is beneficial.
Secondly, presenting the donations and supplies was very humbling and fulfilling. I spoke to one of their caregivers and she explained to me how they live there. She said to which I agree with, the kids there are so full of life, despite their harsh living conditions. To begin with, they live in iron sheet roofed houses which are susceptible to flooding during rainy seasons. Not to mention, they rarely have two meals a day let alone a three.
Think of anything, no matter how basic it is, whether its food, clothing etc., they struggle to get if not having. For the girls, it is not always a guarantee for them to have pads every month. In a nutshell, they basically struggle to get everything. Therefore, donating to them essentials such as maize and beans as food, clothes, blankets and some playing equipment was a great deal to them and quite frankly to me too. Seeing how grateful they were and listening to their stories moved me to tears. All of a sudden I had this refreshing feeling of satisfaction knowing that we had positively impacted their lives.
Going to Baraka Children’s home was the best decision I made on how to spend my 2021 Valentine’s Day. I learnt that in as much as valentines is perceived to be a ‘day of romance’, which don’t get me wrong is not a bad thing, the day can also be spent by simply giving back to the community. This is not to say that you should only donate and remember the needy on that day but honestly whenever you can, please do so. I am urging you, my dear reader, just because you may not have the capacity to reach many people at once, it should not stop you from reaching that one needy person. Thank you so much Nawiri for this experience!
WE ARE NAWIRI.