Clare Lindsay and family have been ChildFund sponsors for so long that Clare can’t quite remember just how long it’s been. But Francis, who they’ve sponsored since he was just a toddler, is 22; so you get the idea that it’s been a while. Clare tells us about her family’s journey to see Francis, and their second sponsored child, Lucky, who is five.
My daughter and I visited Kenya in 2012, so on this trip my husband joined us, as well as my nephew and his girlfriend, who came across from London. After our visit with Francis and Lucky, we went on to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
We flew into Nairobi early in the morning, so it was a long day, as we travelled to Nakuru and Emali back-to-back. The ChildFund team picked us up from the airport, which was great – Nairobi is hectic and can be a bit overwhelming (especially after a longhaul flight!) so it was nice to know we were in good hands. From there we drove to Emali to meet Lucky, her mum Mary and her older brother (who is 8). Everyone was shy to start with, but we shared a meal together and by the end, everyone had relaxed more. Mary spoke a fair amount of English, so communicating was easier. Lucky is a quiet girl, but it was obvious that she and her brother are both very bright.
In Nakuru, we saw a number of projects that are happening in the community, including a local women’s group and a pre-school. It was very humbling to meet them; they were so full of thanks and praise for us. They sang and danced for us, and were just so welcoming. It made me realise that as big of an experience it is for a sponsor to meet the child, family and community they support, it’s also an experience for the community too – it’s a special day for everyone.
"Seeing for yourself that your monthly donation does make a tangible difference makes everything so much more real, and the bond grows between you and your sponsored child."
The ChildFund staff was fantastic – they are so knowledgeable; full of information about the projects, the community, and the economy. It was great to be able to talk to someone ‘on the ground’ about practical ways that we can help. Seeing everything also helps you to remain realistic about the situation – change is happening, but it can sometimes be slow and complicated – there’s no fairy tale answer. But it solidified our commitment to what we believe in and what ChildFund are doing.
Having travelled in Kenya before, I had got my head around the poverty – especially in the areas we saw that are not tourist destinations and therefore give more of a real picture about what life is like. But what struck me both times, is just how welcoming and friendly Kenyans are – one of my original impressions before my 2012 trip is that perhaps there would be some tension or animosity, but there’s just not – everyone is so genuinely happy to meet you and welcome you in.
We definitely feel our bond with Francis and Lucky, their families and communities, is stronger now. This was our second visit to Kenya, and we’d love to go back again. I hope that we will.