Boma Children are Adjusting to Their New Life in Kenya

by | Oct 31, 2016 | South Sudan Education | 0 comments

The Boma children are adjusting to their new life in Kenya but it has not been without its challenges even as the little things in their new world present major difficulties. Here is their story as it was related to me by Henry Okumu, our Director in Africa. The “Kitale Kids” are 10 children in total (9 boys and 1 girl) and we look forward to seeing them mature and grow in their new lives as the first four girls have done.

New Experiences

After four days’ journey by road, the 10 students arrived in Kitale, Kenya very tired and sick. It was a rainy and cold day. They had neither warm clothes nor shoes and were shivering from the cold. Apart from the weather they were taken aback by the many differences in their new surroundings. 

On arrival, all of them were hard pressed by the calls of nature. Unlike Boma where they would have quickly dashed to the bush to relieve themselves, they were surprised that we had to pay for them to use a public toilet and not only that, they were issued toilet tissues to use.

david-and-kids-in-boma-sept-2016They wore slippers and one wore football boots (soccer cleats) while another had put several colleagues’ clothes in a half torn paper bag. This elicited a lot of stares from the passers-by. The children were shocked by how people were staring at them. When hawkers (street vendors) approached them, they thought that they were being forced to buy things; so they said some people were bringing them things and forcing them to buy all the while speaking angrily to them in Swahili.

When the children were taken to the hotel for supper, they all ordered chapati and beef! I’m not sure why they ordered this because it’s a rich man’s food, but that may have been the food they were familiar with.

The Boma children stared a lot at the buildings and cars and the mass of humanity around them while conversing softly in Murle. They kept crossing the road without even caring about the oncoming vehicles; one boy even stood in the middle of the road to confirm something from a boy on the other side. A loud horn suddenly scared him and he scampered to the other side of the road.

In town they kept staring at people talking on cell phones. I think they had never seen people (and in huge numbers) talking on ‘normal’ phones which they use in Boma for listening to music only.

Immediate Challenges

The boys had been divided into two groups to be under two different foster families. Within 10 minutes of the first groups’ arrival, the foster parents rejected them when one of the boys had broken the handle of the cistern tank in the toilet. They had to relocate to the other foster family so that both groups were under one family. It wasn’t a good start; and they looked frustrated and afraid.

The new house was located on the third floor and that night, just climbing up the stairs was a wonder to them. They kept peering through the windows at the lighted neighborhood below and at the flood-lit town in the distance. And even here, despite having been shown how to use the bathroom and shower they again broke the water closet by morning of the following day.

Even though it was really cold on their first morning the curiosity to experience what it was like to bathe using a shower proved too strong for them and they all showered together. Also, on that first morning they expressed their shock to see the maize plantations; there was nothing like them in Boma. 

Church and School in Kitale

The first Sunday in church was interesting. They didn’t have shoes and all eyes, especially those of the youth, were focused on their feet. To worsen the situation, some youths laughed at them and wondered loudly why they were in slippers. Five of the boys actually left the church before the end of the service.


Then came their first day in school and this too was a humbling experience for them. They were subjected to academic interviews to determine the suitable levels for their entry. It is worth noting that since 2012, they have never had continuous school attendance. Violence has always interrupted their school  attendance thereby creating serious gaps in their learning. All of them performed poorly in their interviews, but they are intelligent and a determined lot willing to learn. Consequently, they were  all enrolled on condition that they have to begin grade 7 next year (2017). They willingly accepted the decision of the school authorities and they look quite determined to work very hard and succeed. The success of the 4 girls who were rescued from a refugee camp in 2014 has been very encouraging this new team of students. The girls have served as role models and challenged this team of one girl and nine boys.

Final Thoughts

Since their arrival a month ago, the challenges they have faced adjusting to the new environment have not dampened their spirits. It is encouraging to see how these Boma children are determined to adjust and fit in the new way of life. They attend three different schools and they all love their schools, uniforms, books and learning. They have since found acceptance and love in the church, and now love attending and participating in it. We pray for their continued adjustment and for the grace to succeed in their academic and spiritual pursuits. We urge you to remember them and their foster parents in your prayers. If you are able to send them some funds to help them in their adjustment please donate online. God bless you all for being part of His divine plan to shape the lives of these young people in accordance with His will.

Henry Okumu