The Tumaini Kids Blog: Possibly the First Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Written Blog on the Internet
by Claire A. Williams and Lara Vogel
It all started with a note passed through the kitchen window. We were instructed to look at it, and then “repeat for me later.” Dutifully, we read: “I [greet] you. I love you. I pray for you. Please assist me with one ovocando. It is good to be nice.”
After sharing her note with us, a little orphan named Jane immediately scampered to hide behind a tree. Despite her subtle attempts at guilt, we did not provide the requested avocado, in large part because our apartment was, at the time, ovocando-less. But the note provided our apartment endless amusement and hung in a place of honor next to the list of students who planned to run with us for our marathon training each day.
The note was our own fault. We had encouraged such overtures. We had come to Tumaini Children’s Home in Nyeri, Kenya, to start a running project called Hope Runs, for the more than 170 orphans living here. But as writers ourselves, we encouraged these kids’ attempts at expressing themselves—even if it was about ovocandos. This became particularly important to us when we learned that they did little, if any, creative writing in school, rarely wrote about themselves, and had no forum for this kind of personal expression outside of class. These kids had plenty to say, but they lacked the platform and resources to express themselves.
As writers, we discovered long ago the power of blogging while using it as a means for documenting our worldwide traveling adventures over the past year. It was through this blog, TrippingOnWords, and the wonderful people that commented on it, that we first found out about and joined The WIP community. Free, easy to use, and accessible to a wide audience, we believed that a web-based community could be a perfect forum for these kids to share their voices.
Hence the beginning of the TumainiKids Blog, a daily blog written entirely by OVCs (Orphans and Vulnerable Children). Our research has yet to find another blog written by OVCs themselves, perhaps explaining Blogger’s immediate interest. In its 4th day of posts, Tumaini Kids was awarded a “Blog of Note.”
Three weeks later, more than twenty of the 170 children and teenagers at Tumaini have posted, and our hundreds of comments, and nearly 10,000 visitors, have done nothing less than wow us all. The kids are thrilled by the comments from people abroad, and have enjoyed beginning dialogues about their lives here at the Children’s Home. By giving them a sense of the greater world through the power of the internet, we hope the blog will teach them the value of their writing, their stories, and their voices.
This is particularly true for the girls at Tumaini Children’s Home. Football uniforms and athletic equipment are easy to donate from overseas, and the boys tend to take over the field and make those gifts exclusive. But with this chance to write, the girls have shown themselves eager to participate and happy for the opportunity to describe their lives. We hope that by encouraging them to continue to express their own voices at an early age, they will gain the confidence to continue to contribute to Kenya’s future.
We are excited to be able to work with some of the Tumaini girls to tell their stories through The WIP, and hope that this inaugural article gives some insight into the project. To learn more about the kids’ lives, or to make a tax-deductible donation to Hope Runs, go to the TumainiKids Blog and leave a comment for one of the awesome Tumaini kids who have agreed to talk about their live as part of this project. We cannot possibly express how meaningful the comments we have received so far have been to the kids and teenagers participating.
Finally, Hope Runs thanks The WIP for their financial support of this writing.
I who will take you through am Mercylynn W. and I am 17. I come from a single family of four. I have one sister, Colynn, whom I love with a passion and two brothers. Am the youngest. I feel so proud to be in this position since I obtained a lot of favors from mum.
I joined this home, Tumaini, in the year 2004. It was on 20th May. That day was my first day to be in the place and also hear of that name. I had also never thought of myself being in a children’s home because I had an uncle who used to encourage me to work hard in school so that I can support our family. He showed me a lot of love and besides all the adversities I passed through, his warmth was enough for me. At times I used to stay with my grandmother, whom with a lot of compassion brought me up learning more about God. She used to read for us the Bible so often and encourages us to go to church to join up with other kinds.
The day I joined the home, I felt so much uneasy especially to cope up with the other kinds and later I got used to. Since east west home is best, I just wished to be next to my grandma. I currently enjoy living with our new large family. What I find so fun most is our mum who is Mrs. Eunice [the manager]. She is a retired teacher. She teaches us music as in songs, which we do present on Sunday services and sometime we go for music competitions. We love her so much.
Here in our home, we are usually allocated duties of cleaning the pavements and utensils. We also clean the church compound on Saturdays. We help in the kitchen in cooking especially when cooking chapattis. We also help in carrying firewood.
During the holiday we do attend remedial tuitions where we obtain a lot of academic help. We also attend computer and tailoring classes. We find it fun especially when we are with the Americans who live with us in here in the orphanage.
My name is Hannah Gathoni. I am 9 years old.
I live in Tumaini. Their lots of peoples and school there is. I love here in Tumaini because we have anything. Please come and see us. And we play games and run.
Today we woke up go to tea. We go to Tichon [tutoring class, aka “tuition”] we come to lunch.
Lara tell us we go and help her we go. We tell them they ran. Karicho was number one. we give a water and biscuit. We give the and then they ran 20 kilometres and the smallest pupuls ran 3 kirometres.
We come back we stretch we go to eat we come to write letters.
Thank you. Hannah Banana.
I am Editah am very good, am nice. This week am fine we are eating enough food. We are wearing clean clothes, shoes...am faithfulness and God is my person savior for me today am very fine and nice and good I go in tution [tuition] today we are staying in Tumaini Children’s Home. We are washing clothes everyday we are bathing the body and I was clean. the Lord will keep me in good home and in my heart we are going to school very. I am pround like a peacock and I am very very clean. I comb my hair and I came smart. I love my self very much and God bless this story.
My name is Maureen. I am a girl. I like in Tumaini Children’s Centre. My school is Riamukurwe Pri Sch. I am in grade eight. I have two sisters who are Carol and Cynthia. Carol is 9 years old, Cynthia 6 years old. While I am now 15&half years old. My mum is May Nyaguthi; my dad Joaness. My mum is 32 years old, while my dad is 34 yrs old. Although my dad passed away in 2004 by a road accident.
My hobby is reading storybooks. Writing notes and also running marathon. In this week I have run for 3 [5.5 km circuits] several times. I like Partisipating in such games I have Knoki problem because here in Tumaini we are provided everything we need.
My Self April 23, 2007
My name is Monicah Waithiya-I like to talk about my self, but I don’t have any time to do it. Oh time has come to write about my self. I like reading books such as story book. I am in class six. I like playing football so much. I like reading bible. Every day I must barth and sometimes you would find me pray another game called hide & sick, because this make me fill happy. At school my favrint subject is Maths, Englis, and Science. Every-time I like to been happy. And so to be nice to every body. I don’t know my tilent. but I like to be nice to every body in world. My first school to attendant it was called hill farm primary school, and the secend was kigongo primo school the third one is here I am. In a home called Tumaini Children’s Home. The school is called Riamukurwe—Primary school. My hobby is painting. I am 12 years old. My self is clean as a new pin. I don’t like eating more food. My self like pretending. Sometimes you would find me pretending like a bird. I likes pretending as a doctor. More to that I would like to be a doctor. When come out to the school I like’s cooking chapati. I have a pretty face I am brown in coulour so I am very beautiful. I like making fan or joking with people. I don’t like waering hipster. I am very takertive. More to that I am saved. My self is not lazzy. I like to be good and some-body who work hard. I laugh laughing. I enjoned my self.