Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lost in Paradise

One day while we were in Kenya in 2006, we took the orphans from Brydges Orphanage to the Park called Paradise Lost, just outside of Nairobi. 
When the orphans arrived it was quite the spectacle. All 60 kids, plus their teachers, were crammed into what was probably a 20 passenger bus. It was painted with fantastic hippy designs. The kids hanging out all of the windows made a wonderful vision. Their ride to Paradise Lost Park from Ngong was much longer than ours had been.
Both buses carried us all down a steep rocky trail which only had the premise of being a road. At the bottom of the hill were a surprise lake and the trailhead to the waterfalls and cave. The park which at its entrance appeared barren, dry and boring turned out to offer a few things of interest, though it was all pretty old and worn.
We headed down to the lake, where the boats were just waiting for us. Most of our team divvied up and jumped into a boat with a handful of kids in each, life vests having quickly been donned. None of the orphans had ever been in a boat before, but it only took a few simple instructions for them to take off. Luckily the lake wasn't very big, or I don't think some of them would have ever come back to shore.  
After everyone had made it safely back to shore, we headed down the trail to the waterfall and cave. This was amazing, like something from an Indiana Jones movie set. The trail wound along the bottom of the hillside and right under a tall meager waterfall. Soon the path entered a cave. The cave went on for a while, before our journey ended in a large cavern. From there several pathways branched off leading to other smaller caverns. Many years before, when the British ruled Kenya, the MauMau tribe lived in these caves, hiding from their British persecutors.
When we left the caves, we hiked back up to the top of the hill for lunch. We served the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, potato chips, carrot sticks, bananas, cookies and bottles of soda. After lunch the kids from our team presented a skit on making the right decisions. Then the orphans all sang for us. What beautiful voices they had!
Next on the agenda were camel rides. That poor camel! The handler would make her get down on her knees, three kids or adults would pile on her back. She would walk a few hundred feet, turn around, walk back and then get down on her knees again to let her riders off. Her sorry fat knees had to be so sore by the time all the kids had taken their turn.
A few minutes on the playground, group picture and it was time to load back into the bus. It was such a full day and the kids had so much fun. What a sad thought that now they had to go back to the small cramped rooms of the orphanage.

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