|Kenyan 4th XI. Spot the odd one out.|
There are nine children who currently live at the orphanage, seven of whom are orphans from the local area, and two of whom (Alice and Stephen) are the children of the night guard, Albert, a board and lodgings deal that’s part of his employment contract. There are three sibling pairings (Peter and Francis, Jecinta and Bonifus, Esther and Joseph) and Josphat (nicknamed ‘nmm nmm nmm’ by Helen on account of the noise he makes when eating mangoes). They range in ages from three to fourteen, and all attend a local school called St. Teresa’s.
- He’s an eating machine. Bonifus really does fill the Dickensian orphan stereotype of ‘please sir, can I have some more’? He’d make a terrible dinner party guest as for Bonifus dinnertime is not about socialising, about discussing house prices, and about pretending to have an opinion on wine beyond ‘nice body, good on the nose, will get me pissed enough to throw my keys in the bowl’. Dinnertime for Bonifus is about eating. If he’s too tired to lift his spoon, he just gets his sister to do it for him, silently masticating. Then he falls asleep at the dinner table whilst the other kids are singing their post-dinner songs. I envy him.
- His monkey impression is ‘hee-haw, hee-haw, hee-haw’ suggesting to me that he has been part of a social experiment that tests what would happen if every time you showed a child a monkey you told them it was a donkey.
- He has just one word of English – ‘catch’, and follows me around with a tennis ball repeating it until we play. Next on the curriculum are ‘howzat’ and the song ‘he swings to the left, he swings to the right, Mitchell Johnson’s bowling is shite’
|Bonifus - on the far left. Anticipating food.|
And so as the heading suggests, these kids really are alright. That wasn’t always the case, but it is now. And we’re just here to lend a hand wherever we can to ensure that their future is more important than their past. I realise that sounds sanctimonious so I’ll counterbalance it with the sharpest quip I’ve ever heard from a hawker, in the nearest large town, Thika. Helen was walking along holding hands with one of the orphans, nine year old Jecinta, when the hawker shouted out ‘hey, Angelina Jolie, how’s California’? Watch out Jon Stewart.