“I’m hoping to finish it in three weeks,” Toto said as we stood before his baby, a geometric dome house to be used as a guesthouse and volunteer space alongside the children’s home his NGO – Cheap Impact – is supporting.
He’d been building this inspiring structure for the past three months. “I have no idea what I’m doing,” he says with a smile. “I’ve never built anything like this in my life.”
Rohini and I had met the 26-year-old German when he visited Kilifi. He was interested in the Musafir project and came down to see how we were doing things and share ideas.
“If you come to Kisumu then you’re most welcome to check it out,” he had invited us.
So after a week in Nairobi, Rohini and I hitch-hiked on eight different rides including camping in an Administrative Police barracks (part of the Kenyan Defence Forces) to meet Toto in Kisumu from where he picked us up and drove us about 10 K’s outside of the town to where the Korando School and Children’s home is located.
Kisumu itself is surrounded by lush green hills and fields. Shambas (farms) spread everywhere, people raising cattle, maize, sugar cane, chickens and standard onions and tomatoes. The 300,000 population reside on the shores of the world’s largest fresh water lake – Lake Victoria, the source of the White Nile.
Toto fundraised during his travels that took him from South Africa up to Kisumu to be able to afford the cost of cement and bricks.
“Once we finish this pile,” he points at a few hundred bricks stacked up, “it’ll be a total of 11,000 bricks.”
“Will that be enough?” I asked.
“I hope so,” he smiles, seeming worry-free.
The fundis (workers) that have been building the 3-dome structure appear to have admiration and respect for Toto as do the 200 orphans that receive their education at Mama Dalphine’s school and children’s home.
The 67-year-old mama cooks, cleans, farms, rears chickens, cattle and even has two fish ponds for tilapia and catfish.
“She sponsors 40 of her best achieving pupils to continue on to secondary school,” Toto explains. “She is in a lot of debt. Everything she grows is for the kids here. Her husband passed away last year. They started this orphanage and school back in 1997.”
Two Belgium girls had arrived on Thursday night to volunteer at the school. A welcoming committee in the shape of a small choir of singing children danced a welcome song.
On Friday morning we experienced it at a volume of 200 children, dancing, clapping and singing. Smiles glowed all around as the volunteers were invited to dance with the 11-year-old master of ceremony.
“She organised everything,” Toto says proudly, watching the activities. “The kids, the rehearsals. She’s amazing.”
Indeed, the little girl led the troupe with hip-thrusts that had me convinced that if I attempted them, I’d end up on the waiting-list for hip replacement surgery. As Rohini snapped photos she was approached by one of the younger dancers and led to dance with the troupe.
The ceremony ended with a short welcoming speech from Toto and Mama Dalphine and Rohini and I, parting ways with hugs all around, hit the road to hitch a ride to Nakuru, to camp at Punda Milias Camp (for more info check out https://www.facebook.com/cheapimpact.org?fref=ts or http://cheapimpact.org)
The truck blew a tire on the hillside down to Nakuru. We continued on after checking the damage since we had another 17 wheels to ride on. Our driver, Zakaria, was most informative about the region.
I’d write to let you know what it was but I simply can’t remember anything because as soon as we were picked up by Danny for our ride to Punda Milias Camp, I realised, to my horror, that my camera had continued with Zakaria who was continuing on to Nairobi.
Even though we parted as friends and I called him to ask to search the truck, he turned up with nothing.
Still, it was a good week.