Kenya visit a ‘life-changing experience’ for this family of twelve

World Vision child sponsors Jill and Ken Fyfe, along with 10 members of their family, went to Kenya in July this year to visit their three sponsored children, Peter, Hannah and Lucy. As you also sponsor a Kenyan child, we thought you might like to hear from Jill about her family’s experience.

Earlier this year, 12 members of our family headed off on an 18-day Kenyan holiday. Our trip was a combination of safaris with one day (one very busy day) where we visited our three sponsored children who all live quite close to each other in Kenya.

After six wonderful days checking out the wildlife, our day arrived to see our sponsored children. Ken and I have sponsored Lucy for about eight years and this was our third visit, but for the rest of our family this was their first visit, so we were all very excited.

We had collected twelve cases of goods from family and friends before we left home to distribute to the children and schools. We had clothing, sporting equipment, school supplies and first aid kits… so with very loaded vehicles we set off!

Our first visit was to meet Peter, who attends a school with 890 pupils. As we drove up, we were amazed by the hundreds of children running, yelling and screaming at us, all with very smiley faces. Music was being made by children hitting plastic buckets with sticks!

I think Peter was a bit apprehensive as he met with all these people hopping out of the vehicles and hugging him! We also met the Head Teacher, and Peter's parents and siblings. After quite a few tears, we were taken on a tour of the school and Peter showed us his classroom. The children put on a performance for us, starting with the smallest children shyly singing, followed by the older children who had an amazing sense of rhythm and movement …we were enthralled!

Then Peter came with us as we drove just a few kilometres to meet Hannah, who is the sponsored child of our elder daughter, Elizabeth, and her family. About 1200 children attend Hannah's school, so our welcome was just as wonderful, but with even more noise and more dust as the children ran along the dry road.

At the school, we were introduced to Hannah, her family and the Head Teacher. Once again the children put on entertainment for us: a drama piece, singing and dancing.

Elizabeth’s husband Brett threw some soccer balls into the crowd and nearly caused a riot as some 1200 children headed off to catch them!

Then we set off to our last school to see Lucy once more. It was two years since our last visit, so we were very pleased to finally be back.

Once again the children ran along the roadsides to meet us. This time it was the adults who surrounded the vehicles, all singing and dancing, sometimes very, very close to the front of our vehicles. We could see Lucy with her sister and mother out the front, leading the singing.

When we stopped, Lucy was there with a big grin as she saw us followed by big hugs as we started to get out of the three vehicles. Lucy stayed next to us then, holding on, until she joined her classmates to sing and dance for us. There is something very special about the rhythm of Kenyan music which makes everyone want to dance!

Ken and I were each given a costume to wear and we headed up to the new classrooms. The school had placed a plaque on the outside wall and we were asked to cut the ribbon to open the new rooms.

Finally it was time to leave Lucy's school and pile into the vehicles again for the short ride to Lucy's home. Lots of Lucy's family were there and it was wonderful to see them again.

I write to Lucy every month or so and she replies to us - now that she knows us her letters are so chatty. She tells us what her family are doing, if the crops are progressing well, what she plans to do when she leaves school.

The relationship our family has with our sponsored children is very special, made even closer now that we have been able to visit them in person. It was wonderful to share this experience with all 12 members of our family.

Since receiving this sponsor story, Ken (pictured above), has sadly passed away. Jill has since spoken to World Vision and encourages other child sponsors to “visit [their sponsored child] before it’s too late”.

“We are just so pleased that he was able to get to Kenya with his family and thoroughly enjoy himself,” Jill shared with World Vision’s sponsor visits team.