Newsletter November 2015It was a warm welcome back to Kunyumba, as always it feels like coming home.
The house, the kids and staff looked well and our organic garden is still improving and increasing in size.
Firstly we were excited to meet some new children, adorable little Rita is Ulita’s daughter. Despite Ulita’s young age she is incredibly versatile and flawlessly switches between her roles as a mother and the young kid she is, giggling and playing games with the other young girls. Ulita is hard working and grabs all opportunities she gets in Kunyumba and in life with both hands, she does her best at school, helps out where she can in Kunyumba and she is a very caring mummy. She never loses her smile and I am incredibly proud of her. Ulita is one of those kids for whom Kunyumba made the difference between day and night it seems.
Daudi is our new little happy chap. He is a very small 8 year old and his physical and learning disability was caused through a problem at birth, as is so often the case in Malawi. His grandfather takes care of his transport to Kunyumba by carrying Daudi in a cloth on his back. Daudi cannot walk or talk, but he is very interactive, strong willed and has a sense of humour which makes us all laugh. We hope to achieve some progress in Daudi’s development with tailored support and exercises provided by our dedicated and experienced team.
Ruthie has found a new best friend in Sifati, a girl with a similar disability, looked after by her grandfather outside of Kunyumba’s hours. Sifati is physically very limited and Ruthie is quite funny as she clearly and dominantly demonstrates her experience and skills to Sifati, going from playing with the building blocks to dealing with the behaviour of over enthusiastic kids such as Ibu and Gift. Ruthie and Sifati make a good team.
Hanifa is truly admirable; she has a mobility problem due to one leg which stops at about the height of her knee. On top of this physical challenge she has a problematic family situation. But Hanifa is a strong and clever girl, who, despite her one short leg, plays football, runs around with an impressive speed, climbs trees as any other child and falls out of trees as any other child. I have noticed that some kids who arrive in Kunyumba having experienced such tragic lives and having been confronted with so many difficulties, actually turn out to be the ones that go the furthest due to their powerful will and determination. We proudly call them the unbreakables. Hanifa’s story is quite similar to that of Chifundo who has now finished her secondary education and is motivated to next start a health care formation. We will do our very best to support her with this. Equally Memory has finally managed to successfully close the doors of secondary education behind her. She is now also looking forward to continuing her education with professional training, possibly also health care related.
Atupele has changed so much. Since we last saw her, she has changed from a baby into the loveliest little girl and is very confident. She often looks at me and calls me Freddy, I try to correct her so she now just gives up and calls me mzungu (white person) instead.
Evance and Imulani are thick as thieves. Evance is the beautiful shy little boy and Imulani is big, strong, confident and the leader; their future roles have already been appointed. As with Missi and Mphatso it is nice to see them growing up as inseparable brothers, which in Malawian culture they are. Missi and Mphatso are now 7 and look after each other with so much dedication; I think they will have a bond for life.
Annie, Stella and Eunice have undergone a transformation since they started boarding school. We met them at Chifundo’s graduation and they proudly guided us around their school, the classrooms and the dormitories. The change that I saw was very impressive; young confident ladies speaking fluent English, motivated to do well in school and proud to be there.
Another change in Kunyumba, since last year , is the recruitment of more staff. Michael is the newest member of our team. His job is mainly to take care of the personal hygiene of the young boys, to deliver safe transport for Bia (from her home to Kunyumba and back), and last but not the least, provide one to one care for our ever challenging Gift. On every single level Michael has surpassed expectations. And what a difference it has made. Gift was a little but strong , an angry and frustrated boy when we left and is now a little bigger boy, who smiles and interacts, who enjoys life and occasionally still shows his cheeky side.
Besides Gift, we look after several children who don’t speak and we aim to introduce a form of signing, which is specifically aimed at children with delayed learning and communication difficulties. The easiest and best way to do this was the introduction of Mr Tumble. The DVD box has delivered many, many hours of laughter and fun and all kids, even the staff members are completely besotted by Mr Tumble. And whilst they watch and laugh, they learn and support each other in the development of sign language.
Finally, I cannot finish this newsletter without mentioning Ibu, Mtima and Semu. All three of them have now grown up to be young men whose voices have broken and are growing little moustaches. It is a little sad to see the child disappearing but equally rewarding to see them developing and their possibilities increasing.