This photo was taken the first time I met Salome – almost six years ago – in a particularly horrendous, internally displaced person’s camp in Nakuru, Kenya. I will never forget the day we collected Salome, and brought her to live in our Miti Mingi Children’s Home. My heart was completely challenged.
The people who’d been looking after Salome dressed her in her smartest clothes, carefully buttoning up her green knitted jumper. They handed her to me. The mother in me couldn’t comprehend how anyone could give her up. But at the same time, I completely understood why they handed her to me: I could guarantee her what they - through no fault of their own - couldn’t: Safety, health and a future.
This photo was taken of Salome that same night, asleep on my lap in the van. We arrived at our Miti Mingi Children’s Village late at night; I passed her on to our House Mothers, who snuggled her into bed.
As I left the Children’s Home that night, the vision of Salome's large, frightened eyes haunted me. I was overwhelmed with fear; I questioned whether we had done the right thing taking her from an environment that, although horrific, was at least familiar.
It took Salome three days to smile…
… Now, she never stops smiling!
Here is Salome now. She is bright, confident, curious – and happy. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
People sometimes say to me, rather disparagingly, “Cass – you can’t save Africa.”
On a macro level during my lifetime, they may be right. But on a micro level, they are totally wrong.
Over the past seven years, we’ve saved Salome. We’ve also saved 7,000 other children just like Salome.
Salome, and her 7,000 friends, is what So They Can is all about.