Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Welcome, Auntie Libby

Our UK voluntary coordinator, Elizabeth Gomm, Auntie Libby to our family,  is back visiting the Happy House after 18 months away.
And what a welcome she received! She writes:
I've been a writer all my life, words come easily to me. Not today.
Sitting here, at the Happy House, with the buzz of activity all around, I am struggling to find the words to describe my welcome home.
Words, for once, are not enough
I couldn't quite believe what was happening nor that it was all for me.
Walking out of the arrivals terminal at Mombasa, a full day after setting off from home,  I was looking out for Kennedy, a Happy House driver.
No Kennedy. Instead a sea of smiling children, singing and clapping – just for me.
Blinking through the tears, everywhere I looked there were kids, all I could hear was Auntie Libbbby, Auntie Libbbbby, Welcome, Welcome.
Margaret, one of our eldest, whisked my trolley away, and I was surrounded by children all eager to greet me with handshakes, hugs
It was magical and overwhelming.  I know how much I love this family that has become so much a part of my life, but I’d never dreamt I was so loved in return.
To know that I mean as much to them as they do to me is truly wonderful.  I feel like the luckiest person on the planet!
Could anything be better?
 Once the tide of excited kids ebbed a little, I was able to reach Mama and Papa, who had masterminded this surprise, just for me. No thanks will ever be enough.
A noisy throng, we made our way the to car park, ready for the long journey home, stopping for sodas on the way!
Mama, Papa and Uncle Billy  filled me in with all all the latest news as we continued on our way home.
Once there, we drove through the gates, another welcome was awaiting me.  All the little ones , too small for the journey, were gathered along with aunties, teachers and other members of staff.  Everyone was singing at the top of their voices – the only thing louder was the song in my heart!
From somewhere in the crowd, came Madam Rose holding Elizabeth Anne,  the beautiful foundling Mama has given my name and that of my late sister Anne.
As I was stood holding her, the kids started singing “He’s Got the World In His Hands” - striking a deep emotional chord with me. It had been one of Anne’s favourite hymns. 
How she would have loved this place, and these kids?
By now it was afternoon, the excitement continued with more good wishes, more greetings and a chance to look round until it was time to leave for home, and some rest. Me,  the happiest person alive!
The following morning, after breakfast, we set off to join in the Saturday morning activities with the kids.  I was looking forward to seeing our young cooks and gardeners busy honing their skills.  But Mama had a different idea.
Friday’s welcome, spilled into Saturday.
The family, every last one of them, was waiting just inside the gate and as we drove through they burst into my favourite song 
“Today is my favourite day”.
Again, the tears of joy pricked at my eyes.  I tried not to cry, the kids can’t understand why anyone should be crying when they are so happy!
They’d planned a party in my honour, with Musyoka and Margaret chairing the proceedings. The programme included songs,  belly dancing display,catwalk modelling (a huge laugh when Mama insisted the boys, and some of the Uncles join in, with supermodel Papa taking the lead.)Then came games, tug of war (the girls beat the boys), musical chairs, ball passing, fruit salad  (fruit bought with a donation left for a treat by volunteer Natasha Wenman), cake, and speeches, first from  Mama, welcoming me home and praising the kids and adults who had made her surprise special, followed by my response– however could any thank you, ever be enough,?
Everything  went according to Mama’s lovely plan, not one of the 108 kids had dropped so much as hint the day before of the party to come, and I was having just the best time ever.
Every day I am away from Happy House, I am driven by Mama’s vision of giving these kids a wonderful life.
They are the sunshine that lights up even the most difficult day. 
Now, I am here and the piece of my heart that remains every time I leave, has fallen back into place.
I am so privileged and so proud to be  to be this family's Auntie Libby.
Thank you Mama, Papa, and all the family for the love  and joy
you bring into my life and for the welcome you have given me.
I'd like to tell you how it makes me feel, how special it is to be back, but, honestly, no words would ever be enough..