Tonight I got a call from Joseph’s family, whom I call my “Kenyan family.” The call, which was to make sure that we were OK and enjoying our life, reminded me again of how at home I feel in Kenya. It is a strange yet wonderful thing to me that I feel so comfortable here, so happy.
Tonight Annie and I were videotaping our thoughts on life at Neema and began discussing the comfort we feel here. We realized that our goal for coming to Kenya, our reason for returning, has already been completed. On Monday (our day off) we returned to Neema from downtown Eldoret to a mob of screaming children, ecstatic that we had returned. Interestingly, it wasn’t the mob we found when we first got to Neema: the kids were no longer screaming “wangeni!” (visitors!), but were screaming our names and instead of our initial hellos to strangers, we were greeting each child by name. It was a wonderful moment realizing how well we know these kids now, and how much we love them all.
We love cheeky Tana for giggling and growling to herself constantly. We love watching her turn a porridge cup upside-down and shake it, trying to make more magically appear. We even love her when she starts hitting other children with sticks because they have tried to share our laps with her.
We love Justus who has possibly the biggest teeth I’ve ever seen on a 3-year-old. We love that he mimics our facial expressions and loves testing just how wide he can possible open his mouth. We love that he likes watching wrestling, and enjoys reenacting the fights even though he’s about 2 ½ feet tall.
We love Bonface, who is so small but can eat so much. We love that despite the huge language barrier we can still make each other laugh. We love that he silently smiles and makes fun of us at dinner when we’re so tired that we start talking nonsense.
We love Agnes, who just laughs and laughs. We love that you can simply look in her direction and she’ll laugh for 5 minutes. We love looking over in the corner of the room and seeing Agnes just laughing to herself.
We love Michael, who usually throws up on us at least once a day. We love that he has long and skinny arms and legs but a massive little potbelly. We love watching the other children take care of him and make him smile. We love his constant happiness.
We love Enock, who was so small when he arrived at Neema. We love that he’s strong and healthy. We love that no matter how far away he is from us, he will run to hug us. We love his giggle when we tickle him and that at the end of the day, he just wants to be cuddled.
We love Boaz, whose diaper is so big that he walks bow-legged. We love that he’s a miniature adult who stays up later than most of the kids and would rather attempt to help with laundry than play. We love that when you tickle him, he smiles and rubs his tummy.
We love Patience, who takes her time warming up to visitors. We love that she smiles when she sees us, instead of screams as she used to. We love that she wants no business with crawling but would rather scoot around everywhere she goes. We love her loud cackle when someone says her name and listening to her sing to herself when you put her to bed.
We love all of them, for having a story, for a having a place at Neema. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be leaving them in 2 ½ weeks. It will be sad to leave them, but we are happy as each individual child has something about them that we will remember. We’ll remember Manna, who tries to drink her bottle upside down and always looks surprised. We’ll remember Brian, whose PJ pants always fall down and who covers his mouth as if in shock whenever he giggles, which happens all the time. We’ll remember Ann, who loves dancing to Abba’s “Dancing Queen” and coming into our room to hit us at 6:50 in the morning.
In a way, I believe these memories are the best way we can support Neema. We’ll share these kids’ stories and unique personality traits when we get home and on this blog so that there is always someone thinking about Ruth dancing, Kennedy tackling us, or Grace’s squeaky voice.