Yesterday we celebrated The Day of the African Child at Rapha Community Center. On this day communities across Africa remember the 1976 uprising in Soweto, South Africa. During the uprising, over a hundred students were killed, and thousands were injured during a protest against apartheid-inspired education. Each year we take this day to focus on different issues facing African children.
We participated in a county-wide ceremony in the local town of Nyahururu. Many schools and children’s homes joined together to focus on the the issue of early child marriage in Africa. The children and staff members, including myself, paraded through town holding banners and the Kenyan flag. After the procession we gathered in the local stadium. The different schools and homes had the opportunity to present songs, poems and dramas. Most of the presentations were in Kiswahili, so I couldn’t understand all the words, but I could understand the enthusiasm of the children. Our children presented a song and dance, and then some of our older girls presented a poem. They did a great job, and I was very proud!
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Unfortunately, some young children are forced to marry at a young age in Kenya. Many of these children are young girls. The dowry system is still in place, so many parents see the marriage of their daughter as a beneficial financial decision. One of our girls almost experienced this type of situation. When she was 12 years old, she overheard her parent’s discussing their plans to arrange her marriage. She was terrified and desperately wanted to continue with her education. She told her teacher about what her parent’s were discussing. The teacher reported her parents and the case was referred to the local children’s office. The local officials decided it was best for the young girl to join a children’s home. Jackline joined our family about 4 years ago. Today she is one of our most focused and dedicated Form 1 students. She understands the value of her education, because she was so close to losing the opportunity.
After the ceremony we took a spontaneous trip to Thomson Falls, a local attraction that many of our children have never visited. Every time I’m at Rapha, the children always ask if they can visit Thomson Falls. We do not have a vehicle at Rapha, and with so many children it is often difficult and expensive to take them on trips. So when we learned that the vehicles we hired to return us to the center from town were running two hours late (not unusual!), we decided to walk the short distance from town to the waterfall. They were beyond excited, as you can see!
We ended the day with lollipops, always a favorite treat among the children! I’m thankful that we had the resources to give our children to such a special day.
Until next time,