A few weeks ago a total of seven volunteers from Kerry headed to Kenya with the Ray of Sunshine Foundation.
Five of those were from Castleisland and its hinterland: Willie Reidy, Charlie Farrelly, Martina O’Mahony, Hannah Curtin and Rachel Flood. They were joined by Tralee colleagues, Robert O’Mahony and Mark Greer.
Here, Martina O’Mahony shares her Kenyan diaries and a few thoughts on the situation here at home:
“On Monday morning February 12th. 2018 all seven of the Ray of Sunshine Kerry Volunteers boarded the 10.30am bus in Tralee and headed for Dublin Airport to get our flights to Kenya.
After travelling a total of 22 hours we arrived at Kenya airport where we had to fill in a detailed visa application form plus photo and finger prints been taken before we were granted entry into the country. The heat was overpowering.
An Hour Long Drive
Three mini buses were there to meet us one for the luggage and two to take the 40 volunteers on an hour long drive to see the site where we would be working for the next nine days.
We were greeted by the school kids and some of the locals who sang and danced for us. Four of the Kerry volunteers were aware of what to expect as we had been there in 2016 but for the other three it was an all new experience for them.
We were then taken to our accommodation which was to be our home for the duration of our stay. The majority of us headed to bed at 8/9 o’clock completely exhausted and thinking of the 4.30am call in the mornings.
School Children Walking
Each morning at 5.30am an armed guard accompanied us to our place of work, it would be still dark and it was amazing to see school children walking along the dark roads to school.
School is open there from 6.30 am until 5.30 pm.
On our first morning we were allocated our jobs and told what to do. We got a lovely surprise at tea time when the girls from the rescue centre entertained us to some songs. Words cannot describe our delight at seeing how these girls had adapted to their new home.
The rescue centre, which we helped build in 2016 rehabilitates around 40 girls. Each one with a different story.
The youngest little girl is three and her mother was repeatedly raped and beaten by her father. During the final attack the little girl was on her mums back when her mother was set alight by her father.
Ran for Safety
Her sister pulled her from her mothers burning body and ran for safety with her.
Another little girl aged 14 was gang raped and when she came to the rescue centre she kept a sheet over her head and refused to see anyone or let anyone see her for the first three months.
When we met her she was sewing – a job she loves but she has a long way to go.
Finally one of the other girls is doing so well that she has started boarding school and come to the rescue centre the weekends and her ambition is to become a doctor.
Insight into Work There
She was very interested in Rachel’s work as a nurse and learned to use the stethoscope and stayed in the office for a while.
These are only some of the stories just to give an insight to our work there.
There was a very kind, caring priest in our group Fr. John Molloy parish priest in Toomevara, Co. Tipperary.
He said mass at 6am for the girls before they went to school and gave lovely sermons telling them never be afraid as God is always near them, he also gave them all rosary beads.
After mass he put on his shorts and went to the site pushing wheel barrows full of earth etc.,
We are so proud to have completed a rescue centre for abused boys this year.
Without volunteers and the people who contributed to this charity this would not happen
We want to thank each and everyone who supported us and Fr. John will say a special mass for your intentions.
We were honoured to be there for the opening, where the Archbishop of Kenya said the mass and the Irish Ambassador to Kenya did the opening.
One thing the Archbishop said in his sermon that stuck in my mind is: ‘The Rich are never too rich to receive and the poor are never too poor to give.’
Well this is so true as we were the lucky ones to receive the hugs and thanks and God Bless you from these wonderful people.
Money could not buy this feeling of worth.
Homeless in Ireland
I look and think about the people who said what about the homeless in Ireland we should think about them first.
I ask them to look at our politicians who are creaming the crop buying properties and creating empires for themselves.
There are plenty of houses to house the homeless only to get the right people elected to work with the homeless.
I am so proud I made that phone call in March 2015 and answered an appeal for volunteers to go to Kenya and I know more people from Kerry will be travelling in 2020.”
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