Our first morning there we witnessed a touching flag raising ceremony where the children sang their National Anthem which is much like the South African anthem that we love so much. The students were challenged to thank the people in America who support the school by studying hard and keeping up with their physical therapy.
Our first interaction is to do some one on one small group play and learning with the kids assigned to library. Emanuel becomes a fast friend who sticks close to us during our week there.
I meet Ellie during this time and we play matching games. She is so smart and responds with her touch, eyes and smile, but does little talking. She is new to the school and was homesick this first day with us. Just two weeks prior to our coming, she had to leave her home and her Grandmother, who was unable to care for her any longer. I was happy to step into her grandma role even for a short time. She smiled a lot for me and I spent as much time with her as I could. Writing this makes me miss her. Isn’t she beautiful?
All 93 kids gather in the large multipurpose room for meals. They sing their thanks to God at the beginning of each meal and then sing a praise to Him at the end of each meal. The kids are served this large ball of pap or corn maze meal, called ugali, at almost every meal. We had rice or pasta with a sauce, served with all the spinach you could eat, grown in their own garden and a variety of fresh fruits, including bananas, papayas avocados and pineapple.
After dinner there was much singing and dancing for the guests. The children love to sing and dance, usually in praise to the Lord.
Meet Godbless, a nine year old who is just over 2 feet tall. He is an absolute delight to be around and his smallness does not interfere with his love for life.
This is Dennis, a very bright boy who grows weaker too quickly. Confined to a wheel chair now, he is a good reader and is so pleasant, as you can tell by his lovely smile. He works very hard to keep up his strength during his physical therapy sessions each day.
Here is Godlistened. He comes from a Masai background and is missing most of his hands, which stops him from doing absolutely nothing. He will soon graduate and has become an outstanding leader in the school. He enjoys working in the barn with the cows.
Milking by hand is no problem for him. The school is teaching the children skills they will need when they leave the school for the world beyond.
We spend some time in the classroom with the children. Sometimes we are given small chores such as sharpening pencils with this small hand held sharpener. Other times we help them with reading and comprehension of the English language. Ellie is hard at work writing her lesson. I think our concentration facial expressions match.
After I read our interpreter retold the story in Swahili. I was amazed at how long the kids sat and listened. I asked once if they wanted me to stop. They told me no, and I read till supper time.
Although the kids are taught to be self sufficient, there are times when it is acceptable to help each other out. Dinner time is when everyone gets a helping hand to the dining hall.
Here at Faraja they are given a chance to dream and get help in realizing those dreams in many different fields. Many will go on to teach, others will be nurses and some will have families and raise crops for food. Right now they are children, given the opportunity to do what children do, learn, love, play and dream.
We are so thankful for the opportunity to visit Faraja and meet this wonderful family who have dedicated their lives to helping the school and the students. This retired couple have made many trips to the school and involved their children, grandchildren and their friends. There are many other supporters now because of the tireless efforts in fundraising and hands on observation of the school in action.
For more information about this amazing school please go to http://www.farajaschool.org We love you Faraja!