16 kids live in the Otepic orphanage. All of them go to school. The orphanage is situated outside of Kitale. The kids live on the ground floor of a house with a large garden. Planting vegetable and fruit in the garden is only possible during the rainy season because there is no water supply for the plants. The kids usually share a bedroom with two or three others. Six of the smallest children share two beds in one room. There are toilets inside and outside the house. They play outside or in the big living room. The living room is equipped with some sofas and a big table. Some German volunteers (including myself) brought games, watercolor or colored pencils for the kids to play with and become creative artists.
Millicent, the 20-year old caretaker
Millicent, a 20-year old orphan girl takes care of the kids. She wakes them up in time to go to school every morning, she makes breakfast for them, cooks dinner and washes their clothes. On Sundays she takes them to church and cooks lunch afterward. “I know what it is like to be an orphan and I want to help the kids,” she told me. Both her parents died when she was 10 years old. First the father, and about one month later the mother also died. Millicent was the youngest child in the family. She and her older sisters lived with their aunt and later with their grandmother, who died after a couple of years after the parents. She saw some of her sisters “flee” into early marriages, as she phrases it. None of them are happy now. That’s why Millicent is eager to get more education. She attends a kind of vacation university, which takes place during the normal school holidays. She studies to become a teacher and will have completed her 2-year program next year (2017).
Hard work, every day
I asked Millicent if she never likes to take a day off. She replied that she always likes to keep herself busy. “I need to wash clothes in the morning as a physical exercise to wake up. If I don’t do it, I feel unhappy or sleepy.” After the clothes, usually around 10 am, she goes to one of the Otepic gardens to cook lunch, carry bricks or water the plants.
Once Millicent completes her degree and becomes a school teacher, she will earn around 20.000-30.000 Kenyan Shillings, which is around 200-300 Euros per month – not easy to live on.
Find out more about Otepic on the project website: www.otepic.org.