03.02.2011 – Today was a great day, the first official IBM CSC community day, and as we closed our laptops, we were excited to visit a local school for the handicap, and an independent orphanage. The morning trip was to the Friends of Allamano for the mentally challenged, with 82 children, most orphans. As we walked down the hill to the field, the children sensed our presence and charged with excitement, immediately grabbing our hands. We brought with us a couple soccer balls and challenged the children to a game. After the game, they provided us a tour of the school building, kitchen, cow stable where a couple of the boys were working, the garden, and fitness center. At the conclusion of our tour, the children treated us to some dancing and singing, and then we attempted to dance for them. Both they and us were sad that we could not spend more time, but before we departed, the team was able to provide them with their first computer, a digital camera, school and medical supplies, and monetary donations for any other items they may require. Our afternoon trip was to a Kieni West Orphanage with 43 children that is privately run by a widow, and was a little tougher. The children greeted us at their doorstep with smiles, and dancing. Immediately after their performance, they took our hands, and enthusiastically walked us around their much smaller living area, which included a girls room for 15 crammed into a small area attached to the main living unit, while the boys were in a separate 15 bed unit built of plywood (you can see in some of my pictures), both with triple bunk beds to the ceiling, and no dressers. Sadly, the entire 3 unit living area for 43 was smaller than my 1 bedroom apartment in CT, and theirs did not include a formal dining area. Gutter water was collected and stored for use for showering and bathing, and they were not connected to the power grid. However, the children were ecstatic to see us, and captivated by the items the team brought which included clothing, shoes, crayons, construction paper, candy, pins, soccer balls, monetary donations, and even our IBM badge zingers (not sure if that is what they are called). During arts and crafts with their new gifts, and kicking the soccer ball around, the children talked to us about their dreams of going to college, becoming doctors, accountants, and electrical engineers. While it was a typical sunny day in Nyeri, rain began to fall over the orphanage mid-way through our stay, which was a sign of blessing. As they held our hands and walked us to our cars, I wished we could spend more time; however, I was happy we were able to share in this short experience with them. It was not until I returned to my hotel, that my experience truly started to settle in with me as I believe I was caught up in the excitement of the children. They were so inquisitive over my digital camera, and while I have hundred of photographs and videos of my family and I growing older through time, a lot of these children will never have any recollection of their parents or childhood. From the one year old girl who was so excited to take her first steps in her new shoes, to the extremely shy boy that we were finally able to crack a smile from, while they are so happy to be loved by someone, they deserve to share the same memories, quality of life, and experiences that I take for granted every day.