I’ve been to three countries in sub-Saharan Africa now: South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya, and in two I’ve been lucky enough to really connect with a little one. In Kenya, it was Celestine’s youngest child, Desmond, a darling little boy who bonded with me over a game of hide and seek (the more you travel, the more you appreciate the differences and similarities of people everywhere). He also fell in love with my hat, to be fair, so it might not have been all me, but he trustingly took my hand as we walked around his home and out to the vehicle that was to take us away from Kisumu for the night.
In Uganda it was Linda, a bald little girl in a bright blue dress, whose family owned and worked in the little electronics shop right next door to the tailor we frequented during our month-long stint in Adjumani. Linda and Desmond were lucky to have parents who loved them, so me shuttling them away and finding a way to adopt them in the U.S. was just not going to happen. It’s also helped me form a good mantra: I can only make friends with kids who have parents. Of course I say this a little tongue in cheek, but the issue is real. In Uganda there are “baby markets” where you can literally buy a baby for $50 to $100 USD. And 300 of the 500 students at Kosogo primary school in Kenya (the school where the kids wore blue and gold uniforms in the gallery page) were orphans, it tugs at me. I, too, was an orphan. I was unlucky in many ways, but so lucky in others.
My child friends in Uganda and Kenya make me smile for a multitude of reasons, mostly because they have parents who love them and are doing their very best to provide good lives for them. But they also remind me how many are out there who don’t have loving families, or who don’t have families at all, because I was one of them, and it has impacted me for my entire life. It’s also one of the driving forces behind my desire to create Msomi. So yes, we will take orphans. We will take any girl or young woman who wants to get educated; it’s a fundamental right and one we are committed to providing. Thank you for joining us on our journey!