My mother asked me not to post anything like this until I was safely out of Kenya and I agreed that was the safest way to go, but there are some things that you all should know.
First of all, DO NOT send your money to Watoto Wa Baraka! Do not donate money or items to them. The children will never see the items unless you know someone who can personally present them to the children and the money will never make it to the children, either. Some of the children have as many as THREE sponsors “paying for their school”, each without knowing about the others AND in spite of the fact that it costs hardly anything to send a child to the school in pundamilia. WWB is CORRUPT. The children don’t ever get to be just children. I was looking forward to Saturday as a day I could spend with the children…..boy was I wrong. Almost every single moment that the children are not in school or sleeping is spent doing various tasks like correcting (which, as I stated earlier is literally picking leaves up off of the gravel to make the place look nice for us wazungus), prepping food, cooking food, doing laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping the walkways (again, it’s in AFRICA. That red dirt isn’t going to come out!), fetching water, taking care of younger children, serving meals, taking care of the animals, etc. etc. etc. They are often “caned” (i.e. beaten) for behavior that is completely developmentally appropriate for them (for acting like the children that they are). They are often accused of stealing (OH THE IRONY!) and many children have been kicked out of Watoto Wa Baraka. I tried to have a conversation with Geoffrey before I left and he manipulated me into feeling almost bad for him and into feeling like he genuinely believes he is doing everything he can for the kids. I’m not sure how that happened, but the rose colored glasses came right back off as soon as I had a conversation with one of the staff members about what she thought the kids needed and she told me she could be fired for even having the conversation. The employees and the staff are not allowed to even voice negative opinions, thoughts, or feelings about the place for fear of getting kicked out. Geoffrey speaks to the kids in Kiswahili or Kikuyu (not sure which) and TELLS them to call him Daddy in front of the volunteers. His wife is an ice queen and from my brief encounter with her, I couldn’t imagine anything she would be LESS interested in than making the lives of 40 children in any way better. I had a conversation about sponsoring one of the girls at the orphanage with Geoffrey. He was so happy about it! I was, too, until I found out from someone else that she already has three sponsors. I realize that I am one white girl and I can’t go in and change everything, but it is SO SO SO SO frustrating to see all of the corruption in this “Christian” organization. I realize that there is, of course, a certain amount of corruption that is just a part of Kenyan culture, but this is RIDICULOUS! I’m obviously still really heated about it right now, so I should probably calm down before writing anything else.
Update: Shortly after I left WWB one of the boys was “fired” from living there because he was in possession of a cell phone…..that didn’t work…..that was legitimately given to him by a volunteer. One of the staff members was fired because he offered his suggestions on ways to improve the living situation for the kids.