Travels to Africa – Part 1: All I Want for Christmas

kids at a Kenyan orphanage share an educational book excited to learn the names of animals

kids at a Kenyan orphanage share an educational book excited to learn the names of animals

All I want for Christmas…..
is for each innocent soul
as young as three, or ten years old.

To have a safe place to roam,
a place to call home
The freedom to play,
and three meals a day.

The opportunity to get an education,
and perhaps even the rare vacation.

Sounds so simple,
yet its far from reality.
The truth is sad, its hard to see.

But if we all took the time
to donate a dollar or a dime.

an unused classroom at an orphanage in Kenya, Africa

an unused classroom at an orphanage in Kenya, Africa

Then it would be easy,
to provide the basic necessities.

And give them the chance to believe, to go to school, to succeed.

Make a donation today, and give a child all they really want for Christmas.

——————————

Go to  Friends Vision to read about the many kids hoping to find sponsors to send them to school & to find out how you can make a difference in a child’s life and become a sponsor.

Friends Vision is a small private grassroots organization dedicated to helping unfortunate children in Kenya have a safe and loving home.  So far, in just three years since the group’s formation, they have found enough caring sponsors worldwide to send 39 kids to boarding school to get a proper education, and are currently in the process of building their own children’s home which will safely house up to sixty children and a handful of dedicated volunteers.

Help these orphaned kids have a fun Christmas celebration.  The volunteers of Friends Vision will be spending Christmas away from their own families so they can share the holidays with these kids and put on a fun Christmas party with the money raised at: http://www.friendsvision.org/details.php?p_id=108

a child

a child's only toy- a car made out of trash

It was quite an eye-opener when we showed up to volunteer on the first day and realized these children had no toys to play with, other then ones they crafted themselves out of garbage.  After spending a couple of weeks with hundreds of kids with nothing but the clothes on their back…its been kind of strange to come back to the U.S.  and straight into the holiday season filled with an overabundance of toys and presents.


Of course there’s no reason kids here in the U.S. shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of their privileged place of birth and wake up on Christmas day to a room full of toys and stockings full of candy.  But when you meet hundreds of kids that don’t own a single toy, and some not even a pair of shoes….and the only thing they ask from you is to send them to school….it really makes it hard to want to ask for anything else for Christmas.

Girls find stones to make their own games from scratch

Girls find stones to make their own games from scratch

toys from rocks at orphanage in Kenya, Africa

toys from rocks at orphanage in Kenya, Africa

child gets creative with leaves at a children

child gets creative with leaves at a children's home in Kenya, Africa

Girl with plastic bag hat

Girl with her homemade plastic bag hat

We brought with us a large bag of toys for the kids and they picked up the yo-yo or the Frisbee and looked at it as if it was a strange foreign object…because to them it was.   They didn’t have a TV to watch toy commercials and they didn’t have rich kids in the neighborhood with the newest toys to be jealous of, so we had to show them how to play with their new toys.

first time playing with a yo-yo in Kenya, Africa

boy's first time playing with a yo-yo in Kenya, Africa

Another kid wore the Frisbee as a hat, we tried to show him how to throw it but he seemed to prefer to hold onto it on his head.  You can see him below standing behind another boy playing using a tire as a toy.

One kid plays with an old tire while another wears a donated frisbee as a hat

One kid plays with an old tire while another wears a donated frisbee as a hat

a kid in Kenya trying to figure out how to play with his new toy

a kid in Kenya trying to figure out how to play with his new toy

At one point during our day at the girls’ orphanage my business card fell out of my camera bag and the girls quickly grabbed it in amazement. They stared at it and passed it around with curiosity in their eyes. They seemed amazed by the brightly colored photos on such a small card, and they asked me if I was the bride in the photos. Once they all took a turn looking at it they politely handed it back to me with a smile.

girls are in awe over my business card at an orphanage in Kenya, Africa

girls are in awe over my business card at an orphanage in Kenya, Africa

The room below with the holes in the ceiling, no electricity, no ac or heat, and the thin worn out beds…are where the boys sleep at night.

child

child's bedroom at orphanage

Go to  Friends Vision to read about the many kids hoping to find sponsors to send them to boarding school & to find out how you can make a difference in a child’s life and become a sponsor.

Help these orphaned kids have a fun Christmas celebration.  The volunteers of Friends Vision will be spending Christmas away from their own families so they can share the holidays with these kids and put on a fun Christmas party with the money raised at: http://www.friendsvision.org/details.php?p_id=108

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Travels to Africa- Part 3: A Day at the HIV-AIDS Clinic « Nicole Nichols Photography - […] pictures to edit, and so little time. If you missed the past couple of stories please check out: Part 1: All I Want for Christmas &  Part 2: Macheka- the Girls Orphanage.  And please keep following my blog, because I have […]July 2, 2013 – 1:14 pm

Nicole Nichols Photography - Hi Heather,
I’m sorry if you took my words the wrong way, you certainly did make me re-read what I wrote and re-think the way it could have been interpreted. I was trying to compare my experiences with these children to my own past experiences. This trip was the first time I met kids that didn’t have any toys, so I was trying to bring to light the stark differences between the American “norm” & their “norm.” I found it truly admirable to see that they didn’t need any material things to just have fun and be kids. If anything these children taught me a lot, and I was trying to pass on the idea to others that kids don’t need toys to be happy. I did study the culture of Kenya before my trip and Christmas is largely celebrated in the areas of Kenya that I visited, so it is a big deal to a lot of them. The organization that I worked with is non-secular and the vast majority of the donations they receive all year long does go towards providing many of these children with school, room, and board. The only reason they ask for money towards a Christmas celebration is because that is a big part of the local’s culture and it can be a very sad & lonely time for these children when they have no one to celebrate it with. And I couldn’t agree with you more that “Taking care of children in need and providing an education should be a top priority in this world, but maintaining cultural integrity and sensitivity is crucial.” …I’ll try harder next time to not let my words get in the way of that 😉January 28, 2013 – 7:11 pm

Heather - Hi Nicole, Thank you for your response. I did read the whole article a few times. I did explain that I know you had good intentions in what you wrote. Words are powerful and your post was misleading. It felt judgmental and as though you were looking down on these children. Wanting the best for children is admirable but determining what is best for children of another culture that you don’t fully understand is tricky. These children may not celebrate Christmas and requesting donations for them to have a Christmas celebration seems strange. Perhaps asking for donations to assist with day to day needs in a school that’s making a difference in these children’s lives would be more appropriate. Saying that, “They didn’t have a TV to watch toy commercials and they didn’t have rich kids in the neighborhood with the newest toys to be jealous of, so we had to show them how to play with their new toys,” is another strange thing to say… do these children really need a tv or rich kids to show them how to play with American toys? It’s a cultural difference, that’s all. I’m sure you had good intentions as I mentioned before but what you wrote struck a cord with me and I felt it was insensitive to cultural differences and ethnocentric. You may have missed the point in what I was originally saying. I do appreciate what you said in your response and I now see your intentions more clearly, it just didn’t come across the same way in your post. Your trip and experiences are personal, so writing this post is as well. I was just asking that you take a step back and see how some of your words came across and that looking at these children through an American lens is problematic. I think it’s difficult for any culture to assess another and determine what they need. Taking care of children in need and providing an education should be a top priority in this world, but maintaining cultural integrity and sensitivity is crucial. You photos are lovely and they tell a great story, for me your words overpowered them.January 22, 2013 – 11:00 am

Nicole Nichols Photography - Hi Heather, thanks for your comments, but you misunderstood my intentions, and I have to wonder if you actually read the whole article. The last thing I would want to do is “impose a life of abundance & commercialism” and I certainly don’t believe everyone else in the world needs to live like we do in the U.S. I’m sorry if my article came across differently, my talent certainly lies more in story-telling with pictures then in words. I was simply trying to point out that these children were very happy playing with the very little they had. And coming back to the states surrounding with the commercialism of Christmas really makes you think about what is important, and how different these children’s lives are. The only things these kids wanted (other then safe shelter & food) was to go to school to learn. And I do believe that every child should have the opportunity to have an education.January 18, 2013 – 11:38 am

Heather - Hi Nicole, I know that you had good intentions with this post but I had a hard time reading your words. You’ve placed a lens of ethnocentrism over your experiences on your trip rather than see the beauty of another culture. Not everyone in the world wishes to live like people do in the United States and not everyone celebrates Christmas for that matter. Children here play with “trash” and get creative with leaves and twigs, and there’s nothing wrong with that because that’s what children do. Imposing a life of abundance and commercialism isn’t something we should want for the whole world. We shouldn’t create wants for another culture but instead listen to what they need.January 18, 2013 – 10:06 am

Mike Neville - Such great images, Nicole. Beautiful.January 18, 2013 – 9:03 am

2012 – Photography Year in Review « Nicole Nichols Photography - […] « Travels to Africa – Part 1: All I Want for Christmas […]January 3, 2013 – 10:39 pm

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