I first met Mourine in 2014, on my first visit to Kenya with the Nasio. She was five years old at the time, and in Baby Class at St. Irene’s ECD school. I almost instantaneously developed a soft-spot for her, and decided to sponsor her.
Now, she has just turned eight and graduated from St. Irene’s, having completed the early childhood education provided by the Nasio in preparation for primary school. I have been blessed to get to know her and grow quite close to her in that time.
In 2015 I returned to the Nasio in October to see Mourine again and celebrate her 7th birthday, which occurred towards the end of my visit. This afforded me the opportunity to spend plenty of time in the school with her and the other children, as she finished up in Middle Class. Over the duration of my stay we developed quite a bond and became very close. With significant help from a friend, we baked a birthday cake for Mourine and visited her house on her birthday. It was very humbling to be so warmly welcomed into their modest two-room hut and to see the joy the cake and presents brought to Mourine. I met her mother and some of her other family members for the first time. She told us that Mourine had never had a cake before! I was amused watching Mourine initially nibbling at the cake suspiciously, but she had soon eaten two slices. We spent some time just throwing a ball outside in the sunshine and enjoying the day. It was quite difficult when it came time to leave for home, and the thought of returning the following year to see her again remained in my mind.
I have recently returned home after visiting Kenya again this year. Again I spent my time playing and hanging out with Mourine and the other children at St. Irene’s. Mourine recognised me instantly and we pretty much picked up where we had left off. I was again around for her birthday, and went to her house on the day with a cake and presents. It was a much grander affair this year, with her extended family present and a traditional birthday celebration ensued. With us all crowded into the hut, the sound of singing rose above the heavy rain beating on the tin roof above. Mourine and I had to feed each other cake and juice before everyone else could then eat theirs. Amid much singing and dancing we were also encouraged to place tinsel on each other and then Mourine received her gifts. The family very kindly offered me gifts also; a live chicken and some eggs! The happiness was quite apparent in Mourine’s face, and her family were grateful and appreciative, as was I with my gifts, if a little unsure of how to handle a live chicken!
I was also present to attend the St. Irene’s Top Class graduation ceremony at which Mourine was graduating. This was very fitting, as I had been blessed to have seen her in each year of her three year journey through the school. It was special to see her dressed in her little cap and gown, collecting her certificate, taking photos with her and her family and just sharing in an important day in her young life.
One of the most telling and rewarding moments the sponsorship experience has brought me was returning to her house this year and seeing multiple photos of Mourine and I framed on the walls of their home. It was something that transcended the language barrier and showed that my care was reciprocated. Knowing that they had sufficient appreciation to afford me a place in their home was powerful, as was knowing a little reminder of me would remain there with Mourine after I leave.
It has been a privilege to sponsor Mourine thus far, spend time with her and be a part of her life. The gift of being able to know and participate in the life of a special little child half a world away, to share a close bond, and to be tangibly present in her life is beautiful. I would like to thank the Nasio for facilitating me being a part of Mourine’s life.
What’s next? Well Mourine is headed to Primary school and hopefully she will perform really well and continue to grow in life. We remain very close, and I have been invited back to her house next year to eat ugali with her and her family. So, please God I will return soon to see her again!
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