After my fun-filled bus-ride, I jumped straight into FootBallSmiles mode.
This time it was the New Life Muslim orphanage with 104 children, mostly boys.
In cramped quarters they are fed, clothed (head dresses too), taught the Koran and sent to school.
As with Happy Nairobi Kids, space is a problem and their dream is to move to a new location (you will understand clearly when you look at the photos!)
Initially they were shy and closed to communication until I started clowning around, making grimaces and hand-magic while my friend Chandra (who had organised the day) began singing with the girls.
After a tour of the few rooms and inner courtyards where the women were preparing lunch, we proceeded to go to the football ground.
As we rounded the corner, our eyes nearly fell out of our heads!
The New Life is like a Phoenix rising out of…the dump!
Not just any old dump… A huge neighbourhood-size dump, complete with a flowing waste river!
The way to the field was through a poor squatter village, over the river and through some maize fields.
As the river was high, the boys fashioned a plank-bridge and held it in place while we crossed.
Everybody helped everybody gleefully. A sense of jovial solidarity and caring for each other was felt clearly.
The field, with the looming dump as back-drop was excellent, with coconut tree stumps as goal-posts and large enough to play several games at once. The girls played different ball games and jumped rope.
One of the boys solemnly opened his back-pack and offered me a pair of football boots! Some of them were barefoot and he was offering me one of the three pair they had!
I declined as they were too big and wished I hadn’t when I saw the look of dismay in his eyes.
I tried to cheer him up as we walked towards the field…thankfully he recovered quickly and gave the shoes to another boy.
We played football, everybody totally involved, a goal the largest celebration after funny falls and exquisite examples of skill.
When we were all happily exhausted and hungry we returned to the orphanage, river-crossing operation repeated, this time with one of the girls slipping and falling on her bottom to the squeals of delight of the other children.
It was not mean, just funny and happy that it was not them. She did not cry, just took it in stride as some of the others hugged her.
All very human.
Two of the boys are twins, their mother having died in childbirth… The father not able to take care of them
Jamal and Jaffary are now two years old… double trouble!
They have spent a lot of time crying and the sadness is latent in their little eyes…as it is in the eyes of most of these soulful children.
In some, there is a knowing, a sort of wisdom beyond their years, an understanding that one must simply go on…
One step at a time, the present being the only real moment… dreams and plans far away on the horizon.
At the moment, shoes for school are at the top of the list, right after food and clothes.
Step by step.
My bus-ride a joy-ride in comparison to their daily adventure.
Dimensions of discomfort dissolving in the face of other realities…
As we left, they waved and smiled…and we smiled and waved.