It all started back in '99 - 2000 when we sponsored Suzy through world vision. It was only about a year after making that first contact, that we said we would go it alone. We met the 'entire' family for the first time in 2001 at Grandmas house, whom Suzy & Cate lived with since their parents died a few years earlier. Grandma lives in a urban town called GITHURAI, 15kms out of Nairobi. (we later learnt that Githurai had the dubious pleasure of being known as 'the murder capital of Nairobi'. Don't know if that still applies, but many of our taxi drivers then were not happy to visit). In fact, Grandma had paid the local security men, to keep a extra close eye out the first time we went there to stay & sleep over a few nights.
Since then, our relationship has grown and grown. Our quiet shy girls have grown into tall women who truly consider us to be... mum and dad. Suzy even tells everyone that we are her biological parents,... which naturally confuses quite a few. Late in 2007 we brought both the girls to Australia for 6 months, it had a rocky start, but by the time they left, .. they had learnt so much, and grown up a lot. In the last month of their stay, there was major fighting and riots in Kenya which naturally concerned them,... but the big problem was, grandma had broken her hip, and in Kenya, if you dont have the money up front... you just dont get fixed in the hospital. We found out that grandma was going to use the title deed to her house so she could get the money for the operation, something we opposed strongly. We also learnt that the hip operation was only going to cost $1300-.... can you believe it.!! Not much for us back here, but for them , it was a HUGE amount. Naturally we didn't exactly have that money floating around doing nothing, we had to 'wangle and manage' the problem which we quickly did, and grandma had her op. BUT, the best thing to come out of that, was that the girls learnt first hand, that not all westerners 'own a bank' & having a ATM card did not magically GIVE you money, and that even here, we have to budget and save. It was such a good lesson for them.
It wasn't until 2009 that we took the girls on safari with us. It was the first time they had been out bush, seen the wildlife or met the maasai whom we lived with. This too was one of the best things we did for the girls, cause for the first time, they could see that there were other people who were far more worse off than themselves. It was a great life lesson and one they have remembered since. Luckily they did come with us, cause they new what to expect a couple of years later when they had to go back by themselves to sign some papers on our behalf.
The good news is that now, after all this time, both the girls are enrolled in college, which is their first real chance at getting any decent employment. (even a shelf packer in a store is difficult to get in Kenya.... too many people, not enough jobs,.... and no government hand outs. No job... no money. you can see why people get desperate.) Anyway, Cate is now doing a 3 year course in Hospitality & cooking while Suzy has just started her 1 year course in Tour guiding, which i am told by a very reliable source, would be a great asset to her.
We always try to help grandma and the family by getting those things that are just too much out of her budget, like a small fridge, and cupboards in the kitchen.... both of which have made a huge difference. With their xmas money one year, they chose to buy a microwave. (this actually quite surprised us, but knowing that they still cook over a fire on the ground in a small room at the back of the house, maybe we shouldn't be so surprised),This year we supplied new vinyl to their floors, and Suzy is now happily doing all her homework on our laptop we left there for them. excellent timing. But surely, i think the best gift we have given them, is to put both the girls in college so they have their best chance at gaining employment.
2012 we bought the family a upright stove this year. cate in particular was very happy and eager to show us her cooking.
So, naturally, you can say our girls are a big part of our life. As is Grandma, Lydia, Veroncia, Jaceinta, Caroline, Nicholas, Mark and all the kids. It's a big family, but one thing we know for sure,........... they truly appreciate everything we do.!
As of 2013, both the girls have finished their college courses, with Cate doing exceptionally well. Let us hope that these educational lessons help them in their future lives.
UPDATE As of September 2015, we popped in to visit Grandma and the girls in Githurai for one last time. Both the girls are currently working in the hospitality sector and Cate was married in Dec 2014. Sadly we could not stay in Kenya that long and did not get to walk her down the aile as she had hoped, but we are pleased to see that her married life is taking off well.
UPDATE As of April 2016, Cate has had a littel girl which they named Debra.
UPDATE As of july 2018, The food business (cafe/diner) that we started the girls with last year is going very well. We visited this year and saw the cafe for the first time. It is a small shop, (most of them there are), not far from home, where they sell chips, stews, chapati's etc. The girls had created a nice little place with good seating and pleasant interior, so, after discussing their needs and future of the business, we decided to purchase a fridge freezer which will allow them to make & sell samosas, sausages etc and also a juicer, which will allow them to sell fresh cold juice on this side of the freeway. They run the business together and in busy times can afford to hire one or two girls when needed.