How the orphans of Tumaini are using technology to embolden their creative expression and communicate with the world.
When the children of the Tumaini Children’s Home in Kenya first saw themselves in print in a U.S. magazine some were furious. One phrase in particular set them off. While explaining the demographics of the orphanage, the journalist from Runner’s World had said that most Tumaini kids were orphaned from AIDS. For days, I heard complaints that the writer was lying. Their parents had not died of AIDS, the children said, but rather ailments like malaria, pneumonia, and “headache.” A stalwart minority defended the article, saying that the other kids just didn’t want to admit the truth.
The shame surrounding HIV/AIDS in Africa is no small thing and, for children orphaned by the epidemic, the issue defines how they see themselves and how the world sees them. Thus, when Hope Runs helped the Tumaini Children’s Home start the first blog on the internet written by orphaned and vulnerable children (TumainiKids.blogspot.com), there was a debate about whether to include information about the children’s status as AIDS orphans. In the end, Hope Runs directors made the decision to include it in order to educate readers.
Indeed, when the blog started, educating readers was a clear priority. Although there is much in the literary world coming out about Africa and some non-profit organizations have blogging efforts from their personnel in the field – FORGE, Skoll, iEARN – there is little material coming from the continent’s native voices.
At its lightest, the TumainiKids blog reads something like Kids Say the Darndest Things did, with a mixture of poor English, word misusage and general kid-speak: “My name is Caroline. I am in stand six and my day was very fine. I was as happy as a king in the morning I drink some porrigne and launch time I act some good and four o’clock I drink tea and supper I eat good…”
About the Turkana Religion: “My name is Julius At our religion I Like to Eat meat and milk. When it is not boild that time, we were not at schools and we could be seek bacteria.”