Evenings were among my favourite times at Veronica Home. After a dinner of ugali (cornmeal cooked into a dough) and vegetables the children would clear the tables and family time would begin. Most nights we three would sneak away both because it was approaching our bedtime and because I wanted to let the family have its own time together. As we made our way out into the night I could hear scripture being read, announcements being made, and always a bit of laughter. Mark, Joseph, and Eunice take their positions as heads of the household seriously. Eunice is a quiet but strong presence. Mark and Joseph are not afraid of dealing with problems or of giving direction, but somehow they are able to do it in a lighthearted and loving fashion. Whenever I had questions about how certain difficult things are handled in the household, the answers I got were clear and direct. It seemed there was nothing the family hadn't talked about, nothing that Mark and the house parents hadn't already thought about. It also seemed as though they were always tweaking and always trying to do things better.
There were a few nights when we stayed with the family after dinner and those were such rich times. One night I read to the children a book I had brought from home: For You Are a Kenyan Child. It is the one I read to my children every night the first time we visited Kenya (when they were only 5 and 3) and that I had read to them at home many times since. The children at Veronica giggled as I read bits in Swahili and I heard them repeating my accent for days afterwards.
Another night everyone decided there should be singing. And did we ever sing! In one song, the leader calls for everyone, two at a time, to get up and dance together in a kind of dance-off. I tried to audio record, but there was such whooping and hilarity that my recording is useless for anything other than making me smile.
Dear friends of ReACT, rest assured that good things are happening in Kenya. Marvellous things. The kinds of things that build good, strong people and good, strong communities.