Stay connected

Issue 511 – Frome woman’s quest for second Kenyan orphanage

A Frome woman, who runs an orphanage in Kenya, is seeking funding to help towards the construction of a new orphanage.

Kenyan-born Sarah Hillman of Frome is the driving force behind the Mama Upendo Children’s Trust, which was started in 2004. Today, 37 children are homed in the orphanage in the eastern province of Kenya, a rural district called Kitui.
The trust aims to feed, shelter and educate children who are orphaned mainly due to AIDS. Now, Sarah aims to help even more children by building a second orphanage on land nearby.
She explained, “We are looking to initially raise £1,500 to secure the title deed and name of a new orphanage. We will be looking to build the orphanage on a part of four acres of land which we have been given.
“Any help from local residents is very much welcomed and appreciated.”
If you are interested in donating towards the build of the new orphanage or interested in working on the construction then call or text Sarah Hillman on 07968 718622.

Visiting the orphanage

Since the first orphanage was set up, Sarah has taken parties of visitors from Frome to see their work, including pupils, teachers and social workers. One such trip took place recently and one of the party, Morwenna Fellows, reports on what she found.
“I was lucky enough to travel to Africa this summer, staying for five and a half weeks with our friend’s Kenyan family which allowed us to have a more authentic experience.
“The time flew by, tears streamed down the faces of both our group and the wonderful family and friends which we now felt such a part of and were leaving behind.
“As Keiran Dudden, a member of our group, commented; ‘The immediate respect and kindness they showed us was not only a tribute to, but also a reflection of the hospitality we were to experience everywhere we visited, and the close and welcoming nature of this family was obvious.’
“Most of us had just finished our A-levels and had worked hard to afford the trip – the purpose of which was to volunteer at ‘Mama Upendo’ orphanage in a rural district called Kitui, eastern province of Kenya.
“This rural town, was both shocking and inspiring. We visited the district hospital, school and prison. I spent two weeks at the orphanage which was set up by Sarah Hillman and is expanding all the time as she continues her hard work here in Frome to support the orphanage. Yet there is still much to be done – with many orphans still needing homes, the most vulnerable having been prioritised. This is a major project which needs the help of volunteers and donators from the UK.
“At first the expectation of us, simply for being ‘mzungus’ (white people) was overwhelming but it soon became clear that all they wanted was attention and to play – the right of every child. I helped prepare food and sat helping a few older girls learn English but for the most part we played improvised games, children with adorable, beaming smiles hanging from our every limb. The orphanage children taught us much; despite their situation laughs and smiles are abundant. Every conversation about the future seeped with optimism.
“Every child was hopeful and ambitious, their determination and hard-work is incredible and the guardians help to encourage a caring family atmosphere among the 30 kids; a few of the older ones noticeably taking on a mother-like role. At the local school we were asked to ‘be inspirational’, a difficult role to fulfil, yet one which the children and those who worked so hard to help them certainly fulfilled for me.
“For many of us this was our first visit to Africa and it has made a huge impression on me – I have already promised the children I will return. Despite, or perhaps because of, the poverty and Kenya’s difficult history, the experience showed me the importance of life’s simple sensual pleasures; of wildlife, fresh food, dancing and laughing, things which we save so little time for in the UK. The memories of this special trip will stay with me forever.”