Friday, 25 March 2011

Changing times

Frustrating and tiring, yesterday was spent in court in Malindi with the six rescue children giving evidence against the woman accused of failing to protect them from abuse and neglect, writes Elizabeth Gomm.
The case, already adjourned twice since they came to the Happy House on a temporary care basis last October, was due to be heard at 9am.
Sue, Billy and I left the Happy House with six very apprehensive children just after 7.30am.  At court we waited in an open courtyard where witnesses were sitting side by side with defendants. Armed police mill around, some escorting prisoners in handcuffs.
After almost 90minutes were were told that the magistrate had decided to hear all other cases on his list before ours, and to bring the children back at 2.30pm.
Sue and Billy, who had instigated the rescue after two of the children came crying at the Happy House gates, were angry but not surprised. Their concern is for the kids, who should have been repatriated to their families in other parts of the country many months ago.
They are now Happy house kids and leaving will get harder for them and for and the family with every day that passes.
We all piled back into the matatu , the kids with bottles of juice, and headed back for the Happy  House where they settled down to watch a DVD with popcorn as a well-deserved treat.
There was time for Sue and I to catch up on emails, the blog etc, before we set off back to Malinidi at 1.45pm.
Again we waited in a stifling courtyard - the kids just feet away from the Mama accused of ill-treating them- until just before three when she was called into court and the first child called to give evidence.
Sue and Billy, as witnesses had to remain outside, but a children's officer sat in on the proceedings for the kids and I was allowed to stay, hoping I would be able to give these vulnerable kids just some reassurance.
At five, the last child's evidence heard, the magistrate again adjourned the case. This time until June, leaving us no nearer an outcome.
But now with the children's evidence heard, their part, at least is over, and the tough decision of when and where they should go now has to be made.
Repatriation will stat next week when they will return to their homelands, under the care of social workers, until they can be reunited with their own families.
 Sue  and the Happy House have only the children's  best interests at heart and the children will know that they will always be a part of the family and will always be welcome to visit.
In the months here they have become confident, healthy, and prepared, as much as they can be, for the future ahead.