5. Final Instalment.
Resty Nankinja, born in Kabubbu, the “forgotten village”, was taken out of school when her father died in 1988 to help look after her younger siblings. Thinking to escape by getting a husband to look after her, she married early, but was seriously disillusioned.
In 2002 after suffering violence, she separated from her husband. She also feared catching AIDS from him. Her husband remarried, but Resty went to Adult literacy classes and then started working at the Kabubbu Tourist Resort. She speaks good English, and has since completed an MBA.
At home, she looks after her three children and a niece.
As Head of Welfare and Administrator for the project, Resty follows up Geraldine’s work with fortnightly visits, learning more about the families, and continually assessing and evaluating them. The initial questions are clever in revealing half-truths and lies, and she is quick to pick up on discrepancies and to challenge the women, such as date of birth versus age of child, and income earned versus cost of school fees.
When the volunteers come, Resty manages their Development Challenge, whereby each volunteer is allocated £100 and a family to consult with and help. She facilitates ideas and monitors the volunteer projects. She also identifies sponsored children, manages correspondence with sponsors, and is custodian of the funds.
Kabubbu’s chief problem, says Resty, is domestic violence – mainly through refusal of sex. Men have many wives, she says, and traditionally the wives are responsible for their own children.
“They think it is a shame that they should have to learn from Geraldine how to look after their health, their children, and how to earn their living.”
“Why do the people think Geraldine does it?”
“God has directed her.”
“And what is the secret of Kabubbu’s success?”
“Follow up!” says Resty with a smile.
Lilian Kagoda wife of Enoch, Executive Director of the Kabubbu Development Project, knows lots of village people. Where Resty is ebullient and outgoing, Lilian is quiet, dignified, and stays in the background working alongside her subordinates. She is the Resort Manager as well as manager of the grandparent project and is also Mum to six foster children and her 17 year old son.
She walks with me to the village to meet two grandmothers and gather details for the granny sponsor waiting list. There are roughly 90 grannies and granddads on the program; Lilian has an empathetic relationship with them, and they seriously consider her questions before giving their answers.
We walk back to the resort and I buy her a drink. She asks me about my reactions to the project and proceeds to pick my brains on how to start her own business. I promise to mentor her by email, but she hasn’t yet thought of an idea.
She comes spotting birds with me around the Resort, and unearths a bird book from behind the bar. Great Blue Turacos are common here; and Ross’s Turaco. What a treat! Lilian found me a cloth tote bag for 20,000/- (about £4). It smells a bit musty and has what looks like a few paint stains, but it’s better than the plastic bag I came with.
It is Lilian who makes our beds – differently and imaginatively every day.
The food is beautifully served, but they use the same spices for every meal, and I look forward to a change when I return to Nairobi.
There is no urgent compulsion in Kabubbu. Just gentle, positive suggestion, then a step back to allow the message to sink in, be savoured, mulled over, and eventually – maybe – followed up. The machinations – education, training, opportunity – are now in place. It is understood that this mission is to address not just one element, but the holistic whole of Kabubbu’s society; thus growing slowly and steadily into a cohesive community.