The holiday season was a time of joy and excitement in our home. The children were looking forward to their first Christmas in our home and it seemed all of the Zawadi la Tumaini staff were in the holiday spirit.
Christmas carols could be heard throughout our home at all hours of the day. We planned our big family dinner and put up a Christmas tree. Nothing could have prepared our little family for the Christmas gift we were about to get.
Six weeks before Christmas, we were notified by the Kenyan government that we would need to increase the number of children in our home to comply with regulations.
We were sent to Nairobi Children’s Rescue Centre. Christine, the centre manager, showed me around. It was very institutional, not at all like a home, being designed to provide only temporary care for lost or abandoned children.
On my first visit, Christine and I identified the eight children who would be moving into Zawadi la Tumaini. Four were between the ages of two and three.
Christine also introduced me to the Kamaisha brothers, Brian (seven), Antony (four) and Clinton (two), adding the fourth sibling, Charles, was housed at the Nairobi Remand Home. I was caught off guard. A remand home is essentially a juvenile detention centre. I asked what crime Charles, the eldest of the brothers, had committed.
A sad look clouded Christine’s face. She explained Charles, age 10, was forced into the remand centre because he was too old to stay in the rescue centre.
I promised Christine I would do everything in my power to take in all four Kamaisha brothers.
Fulfilling this promise was not easy, however. Government officials refused to sign the transfer documents. The children at Zawadi la Tumaini were devastated.
Just as we were about to give up, I received a call from Christine. two weeks before Christmas. Sidestepping the government officials, she brought the transfer documents right to the courts, which, to our surprise, signed off.
On December 20, I brought Brian, Charles, Antony and Clinton to our home.
Seeing the boys in their best clothing, with big smiles on their faces knowing they would finally be moving into a home environment, brought tears to my eyes.
An hour later, as we walked through the gate into Zawadi la Tumaini. I gave them a reassuring smile. Together the Kamaisha brothers walked hand in hand into their forever home.
Help support Jaqueline’s work
The yearly fundraiser to help support former Hanmer resident Jacqueline Villeneuve’s orphanage for children from the slums of Nairobi, Kenya is Feb. 22.
Cocktails will be served at Cambrian College Student Centre beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the lounge. A dinner buffet featuring cuisine from several African countries begins at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $100/person or $800 for a table and are available by calling Guy Villeneuve at 705-561-1440. All proceeds will support Zawadi la Tumaini Children’s Home.
Former Hanmer resident Jacqueline Villeneuve chronicles her efforts at Zawadi la Tumaini Children’s Home, the Kenyan orphanage she started and runs in Nairobi.