To the ends of the earth…and back!

A monochromatic masterpiece!

Friday, August 17…The last day in Karatu before flying back to JFK.

I awoke earlier than normal mainly due to nerves.  After a quick breakfast,  Mama Warra walked me to the orphanage one last time. We met about five of the older children, my English pupils, on the road. As we neared them, I felt my eyes well up and a knot in my stomach, knowing this would be the last time I’d see them before I left later that afternoon. I waved and said good bye I headed over to Shalom and affixed all of the photos of staff and children on the Welcome poster. Mama Warra came in and helped me write the names of some of the children, as I had mixed up two or three. It was in this moment that I counted 53 children, not 52 as I had thought previously!

I had brought an I ❤ NY shirt for Mama Warra in red and was wearing a matching one in blue. Upon presenting it to her, she immediately changed into it and looked just fabulous! Josephat was more than ecstatic to take the photo of the two of us.

Al, Sandy, Heather and Julia arrived shortly thereafter. The girls finished writing the names on the poster for me and I headed off to the market with Yusuf, Godfrey and a Shalom Staff member to purchase some food as the painters finished the primer and first coat of paint. (They had purchased one red can and the rest white, so each part of the veranda that received a new coat of paint was a different shade or red or pink…)

Our first stop was the market with beans and rice. The market is quite a place to see as there are identical shops with seemingly identical produce, tomatoes, onions, carrots, bananas, rice, beans etc. Clearly only an expert would know how to navigate such a place! Once at the stand, we swatted the flies and stepped to the side for passing customers as we searched for Shalom’s account in the record book. Finally found under “Yatima” meaning “orphans” I was astonished to see that the debt at this market had been accumulating since January! So too was I deeply in awe of the shop owner, for he clearly cared for the orphans, having given Shalom the food on credit.  As Yusuf did the talking both to the shop owner and to myself, we were able to pay over the months old debt AND purchase two months worth of food for the children.

Our next stop was a local store where we purchased laundry detergent, sugar, tea, salt and other daily necessities. I purchased some school books while there, astounded at the low cost. After piling the items into the car, we were off to the maize market to pay off another debt and purchase two more months of food. The final stop was a little market where we paid off the last of the debt. Words cannot express how honored I was to be a part of these moments. Thank you all for your donations, both in finances and in prayer.

By the time we finished paying off all the debt and had the back seats of the safari vehicle filled with school books and everyday necessities, we headed back to Shalom. After presenting everything to Mama Warra and Mama Ndogo, who both couldn’t help but thank us, I rushed to put away the notebooks and hung up the Shalom poster with Mama’s help. We had lunch down at the volunteer house for the last time. Waiting for us was a delish meal with plenty of the “chips” (french fries) that we had come to adore. Mama Warra, Yusef and Godfrey shared the last meal with us. Once over, our last hour flew by as we said good bye to the children and staff. We managed a photo with most of the little ones who were at Shalom that afternoon. Since the older ones were all at school, only about half are photographed with the finished roof.

As we all stood with beaming smiles, I couldn’t help being utterly thankful and nearly speechless as I mulled over memories of the past two weeks. We saw quite a transformation, not only through the walls, floor, steps and ceiling of the veranda but so too within each of ourselves.

The veranda was quite the monochromatic masterpiece!

Thank you donors for your generosity!

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