When you meet Anne-Sophie Rettel on the street, you would expect her to be just a normal 23-year-old woman from Leipzig, Germany. She likes partying, she works as a travel agent, she’s single and she raises funds for an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. “All started back in 2009 when I went to Kenya with a social organization looking for working volunteers all over the world”, Anne-Sophie explains. What started as a good thing to put on for her C.V. soon became an important part of her life. She spent four months in an orphanage in Africa, working as a social worker and teacher.
When she came back to Germany in December 2009 she started a tour of schools and told students about the lives of the children in the Watoto Wema Center, an orphanage in the Kayole neighbourhood in Nairobi, the capital the East-African state. Most of the 70+ children there lost their parents to diseases like tuberculosis or HIV, some died in car accidents – and even some are so-called social orphans. Their parents just don’t have enough money to take care of their siblings, they put them in the bus, they throw them on the waste dump – or just light them up in fire. These kids are deeply traumatized – and some of them wet their beds each and every night. That’s why they have to dry their mattresses on the roofs of the buildings, next to the drying clothes.
The people Anne-Sophie was talking to about the circumstances in the orphanage were deeply moved, students from schools started to collect toys and sanitary goods along with money to help the kids in the Watoto Wema center. Over the years the blonde woman from Leipzig traveled back several times to keep an eye on what was happening to the money she raised.
Together with some other organizations she could celebrate a new chapter in the track of the Watoto Wema Center. The management of the Center bought land in Ruai, a rural area at the edge of the city, with less pollution, less crime – and most important: no rent to pay. During the Christmas holidays 2011/12 the complete orphanage moved to the newly build area. The cooking stove and the beds had been paid for by the German woman.
For Anne-Sophie Rettel this is not the end of the story. She continues to raise funds, she wants to buy some animals for the center. “A couple of cows or some goats would be great, then they don’t have to buy the milk anymore”. She hopes to move the orphanage to a more to a self-sufficient model. To help “her” children move out of Kayole to the new center in Ruai was the best Christmas gift the children could imagine.
All images copyright © Alexander Baumbach
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