Monday, 25 April 2016

The guiding hand by Elizabeth Gomm

Two year old Chesco plonks himself down on the chair next to Mama.
  He leans back, puts his feet up on the wicker table opposite and ,settled comfortably, reaches out a tiny hand and slips it into Mama’s.
 He doesn’t say a word, Mama, who is listening to another of her kids at the time, squeezes gently showing him she knows he is there and he is happy.
 All is well in Chesco’s world.
The scene reminds me of a saying:
Family is not about blood. It's about who is willing to hold your hand when you need the most
The first time I heard it I thought immediately of our Happy House.
But in a single moment Chesco illustrated it perfectly
It is nine years since I met Sue.  That day, as she outlined her Happy House dream, she told me it would be unlike any other children’s home here in Kenya, it would not be an institution, but “a family home.”
Happy House would be a place where children would grow and flourish, nurtured and nourished, and it would put hope into the hearts of kids rescued from the depths of despair.
Musyoka calling
 It was then her dream.  By 2010, it was a reality, she had made it so.  In the six years since  it has been home to scores of children.
 Some have returned to their families,Happy House being the  bridge over troubled waters for a family in crisis, taking a child  or children for just short term care.
 In other cases, kids have been with us for five years or more before circumstances have changed sufficiently for a parent or relative to be reunited with their youngsters. Once they have turned their lives around it’s only right for a family to be together again.
 A few kids have left and come back because things at home have not worked out . They have settled as if they have never been away.
 When I was last here we had more than 100 kids, now there are 60.  The family has changed, as families do, but the solid foundation of love on which the Happy House is built ensures the children adjust to change.
Kids here are resilient and resourceful.
Other kids back home in families  are well and happy. They ring up to say so and to share their news.  
Musyoka, who, with his brother Francis and sister Mwende,  is now with his grandpa way up near Nairobi.
He phoned Mama to say hello and thank you for their Christmas presents, which had taken three months to get there!  He chatted away happily telling her how he, Francis and Mwende had all been top of their classes in their new school.  
Mama asked Musyoka, always a bright spark, if he was headmaster yet. "Not yet", he said as if it's just a matter of time.
They may be back home, but Happy House is now a home away from home to them too. Just the way it should be. 
Mama Sue and Papa Dave will always be their Mama and Papa too.
 As some have left, others have arrived. Happy House is here for children in need, for as long as they need it.
In the space of a few days new arrivals are at home, kicking off their crocs to play barefoot, parading off to school in smart uniform or chattering away with their new brothers and sisters.
Mama calls it the Happy House magic, but who has made this magic happen?
There is only one person who has conjured up this incredible place where, for a child, all things are possible.
It is the woman who would shift heaven and earth to ensure they have a future and she is Mama. 
Just ask Chesco!