, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – He’s a little boy. Not more than seven years old and yet he leads a group made up mostly of boys his senior in song.
It’s the kind of song that pulls at your heartstrings if you understand Kikuyu and especially if you understand where the boy singing it is coming from.
“My God light a candle for me as I am followed by great darkness. I pray that you may send down your angels so my heart may find rest,” he sings.
And God did send an angel, if you believe as the boy does, to him and the 179 other orphaned, disabled and abused children that found refuge at the Zabibu Centre.
The angel in this case came in the form of a Frenchman by the name of Thibaud Rerolle and the greater Safaricom community of which he’s the Technology Director.
“I started volunteering at Zabibu two years ago when I joined Safaricom and when I met Irene, met the kids, I fell in passion with what was happening there,” he attested.
Irene whose surname is Wagema is the Director and Founder of Zabibu, Kiswahili for grapes, which has been taking in children in need since 2005.
“Our vision is drawn from John 15:8 which tells us to bear much fruit and so initially we started as a girl’s project but disability, need and poverty are not respecters of gender so we brought in the boy child from 2010 and ever since we have embraced any child who is need,” Wagema recounted.
And it’s in support of these children that Rerolle enlisted the support of his colleagues and the Safaricom Foundation in order to build them a home that would stand the test of time.
“The older girls were living in a structure made of iron sheets that was initially meant to be only temporary but had remained that way for many years due to lack of funding and so my team and I decided to do something about it,” Rerolle explained.
They began by fining those who would be late for meetings and even contributed one percent of their salaries for six months toward the 120 bed capacity dormitory; but raising the Sh14 million it would cost to put up was no small fete.
And so the Frenchman took to the Kitchen for a fundraising dinner and with a Sh5.6 donation from the Safaricom Foundation and various other well wishers, they finally managed to not only hit but surpass the targetted Sh14 million to raise Sh15 million.
And it’s in part due to Rerolle, Safaricom and others like them that the children of Zabibu are now able to fully exploit their potential.
“Niko na uwezo wa kujiendeleza (I now have the ability to better my life),” the children can now sing.