The social welfare officer brought us Mnira on November 5th. She is a
16-year-old girl of the Man’gati tribe of semi-nomadic herders. On the 7th, the officer returned with Sara, aged 15, and seven siblings from a single family: sisters Sophia, Kenika, Dauda, Shamira, Sakina, and brothers Hussein and Mohamed. Sophia is around ten years old, and the rest range down to five or six. None have ever slept in their own bed and we are quickly working to build their bunk beds. Bunk beds and mattresses will be a very foreign concept to them, as they have slept on dirt floors their whole lives.
Psychologically, this group (all from the same tribe) will have much adjusting to do in order to fit into our collective family. The fathers of the older girls, Sara and Mnira, have each been charged with sexually assaulting their daughters. Their family business has traditionally been witchcraft. Now that the girls are safely at the project there is much de-traumatizing to undertake. Both girls should be in secondary school, but at this point, it’s difficult to tell whether either has finished grade seven. We will have some negotiating to do with the Education officer.
The younger siblings, as far as we know, have never been to primary school. This will make it easy to enroll them in our school. When they arrived, none of them would have known the Swahili language! I’m certain that by now they will have picked some up from our other residential children. In time, they will also be learning English, as we do teach in both languages in our new school.
The seven siblings are facing the death of their father and the loss of their three mothers. The father was killed in the age-old war between herders and farmers. The mothers, whom you can see are all young, will be assigned new husbands within the tribe.
In addition to the adjustments for the new children, there are several challenges that our staff will be facing given these additions. The older two will be helping with the youngsters, and so adding staff will not be an immediate issue. The bunks are being built, clothes rounded up, and the meals stretched. The House Rules must be introduced to them- some of which will be so foreign to the nomadic nature of their tribal norms.
I (Lynda) look forward to returning to the project on January 2nd, and anxiously await being able to hug the new children and showing them that they are all loved!
(Pictured Below L to R: Sara, the seven younger children with their mothers, Mnira)