The last day at Oronkai dawns, they had done so much whilst there and must have felt very accomplished. When you aren’t used to D.I.Y (as I expect most of these boys weren’t) it’s no mean feat to do what they did – walls painted, doors fixed, rubbish pits dug. Seeing the before and after pictures makes me very proud of what they achieved there.
One of the things that I was to find out when Matt got home was that he had actually donated his rugby ball to some of the children. It sounds a very trivial thing, but that ball literally went everywhere with him – the perfect antidote to any boring moment of life! It’s no exaggeration when I say that if it was a choice between fitting the rugby ball or clean clothes into his luggage – he would have preferred to smell for a week! So I was really surprised when he came back without it, but as he said, these children had so little and it would give them a lot of pleasure. I think he learned a lot more than D.I.Y. at Oronkai …
Day 15 – July 30th
This morning we rose and set about finishing any odd jobs and loose ends that we had left. For me this meant cleaning the new windows we had put in.
I raced to finish early so I could have enough time for a decent wash before the leaving ceremony. Washing here means waiting for Peter to boil you a pail of water, then stripping off and hand washing yourself behind a sheet of corrugated metal that was erected for this purpose.
Feeling clean I headed over to the back wall of the school where we all dipped our hands in paint and left signed hand prints (as always balanced carefully on a wonky bench) which will hopefully stand the test of time and start a tradition for future visitors to the school.
After washing our hands we ate lunch and then played Frisbee with some of the children.
When the next lesson started we practised our singing for a final time before heading to the football pitch to play 60 seconds. What we didn’t predict was an increasing number of children following us as we walked; more and more joined the pilgrimage until we 9 students led several hundred children like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. Obviously we couldn’t just ignore them, so someone booted the ball into the throng and we watched utter chaos ensue. The children stampeded after the ball, tripping and stumbling and all the while screaming with joy. We spread out and ran around like headless chickens shouting and giving the ball another heavenward kick if we came across it, I think it was the most excitement some of them had ever had. They had endless energy, and most were still sprinting around half an hour later when Jeremiah came up to me and said they needed to get back to lessons. We eventually caught the ball and waved goodbye. We played amongst ourselves for a while but we knew the ceremony was imminent so we decided to head back.
We sat in our places as the children filed over to theirs and the teachers and members of the public who had turned up did the same.
The ceremony was led by the deputy-head David Simba,
and began with a prayer from one of the female teachers. There were then several speeches, some of which were in Swahili and had to be translated. The general theme was of thanks, and we were told numerous times that God blessed us for our work. There were then answering speeches from Craig and Andy thanking the school for its hospitality.
They were a big hit, and almost every sentence was punctuated with thunderous applause. In many cases their sentences were cut off halfway because of spontaneous waves of applause from the crowd, encouraged slightly towards the end by us. The ceremony then turned towards entertainment, started by the Kenyans who repeated their awesome welcoming display.
We then performed our repertoire which went down well. For some reason, the Kenyans fell completely in love with the Macarena.
We sat down feeling pleased with ourselves, only to be stood straight back up again for the presentation of completely unexpected gifts. We were all individually presented with colourful bracelets, bringing about the amusing situation where an unfortunate Masai woman had to try to fit a bracelet made for lean locals around Gavan’s thick wrist. Pictures then ensued, and I finally traded my hat with Peter for a bow and two arrows (which turned out to be our friend Jeremiah’s bow). As I was making the trade, a trio of young girls came up to me with another bracelet as a gift from them. It didn’t fit at first, so one of them dismantled it slightly and then rebuilt it around my wrist, Peter then came out with a flaming stick and pressed it together. It is for the time a permanent part of my arm. I went back to my team to discover an enormous crowd waiting to have their picture taken with us. Our celebrity status was not short lived as we posed for dozens of photos; there is one Kenyan cameraman with a tidy sum in his pocket.
The crowd slowly dispersed, and life went on. Matt H and I went and started a large rubbish fire in our pit,
and stayed there until dinner.
It was then time to say goodbye to Robert, which we did with song (Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt, substituting Robert for several words).
We stayed up late into the night with Jeremiah, watching the stars and making ready to move on.