I met Phil at the Jambo Jipya orphanage in 2015 during my annual visit to Kenya. He is a member of Christine Mwende’s Jambo Jipya Board of Directors and visits the school and orphanage two to three times a year. We stay in touch through phone, email and social media and might see each this summer when we both plan on returning to Mtwapa at the end of July.
Here is a little about him in his own words:
I was lucky enough to be able to retire early from a high pressure sales job working with a US based multi-national Company. I decided to do an African safari in Kenya which was extremely incredible but it gave me a firsthand look at the difficulties and hardships that is prevalent in Kenya.
When I came home my only job was some local community work. I searched the web to see if there were opportunities for me work for a few weeks in hospitals, schools, relief centers and one morning I found the contact information for the Jambo Jipya school. After a few attempts I finallyreached Christine Mwende and told her that I wanted to do volunteer work at the school. So I booked a plane ticket for Mtwapa. My family thought I was crazy and after a few days in Mtwapa I thought maybe they were right! Christine was very distrustful of me and my motives and it took me a few days to prove to her that I genuinely wanted to help. I realized how naive I had been but it was a good lesson and the end result was that Christine and I learned to trust each other. Shortly after Christine asked if I would go with her to help sort out a boundary issue with the Land Registry in Kilifi and Mombasa. I said yes providing the discussions would be in English.
At the meeting, I was shocked at the overall lack of respect and blatant sexism that was displayed. I realized the difficulties Christine faced on a daily basis as a woman and the director of a school. I believe my being there that day helped to resolve a problematic issue and solidified our relationship.
Whenever I travel to Mtwapa, Christine will often ask me to go with her to meetings or sometimes saves up issues for my visit. Not only do I bring donations but try to assist financially by funding special projects. I am grateful for the opportunity to help in whatever way I can. We both know that JJ is just one of hundreds of schools in Africa doing what they are doing, but for me Christine has created something special at the Jambo Jipya school and orphanage. I’m not a religious person but I have to respect the strong Christian values she has infused by her leadership and the good vibes there as well. The children seem to enjoy their life without material trappings and have many reasons to smile. My next trip to Mtwapa will be end July and as always I look forward to my visits