The first letter from Anne to the Friends of Shangilia in Sweden
Let me tell you about something that happened to me this year
In June, I travelled to Kenya for the first time to visit a friend who had worked with various projects in East Africa for 25 years.
When I had been there a week she asked me what I wanted to see more than wildlife and nature. I replied that I wanted to “do” something . . . what I didn’t know, but something with children. For many years, I had thought about sponsoring a child or contributing in some other way but nothing had come of it. Like many others, I was irritated by the fact that so much of charitable contributions disappeared in administration costs . . . but still . . . I think many others recognize the feeling. In 2000, though, I had decided to do something about it.
And so the following day Virginia took me along to Shangilia, a home/school/theater for 158 street children in one of Nairobi’s poorest neighborhoods. There I met the home’s founder and “Mamma”, the Kenyan actress, Anne Wanguru. After telling me about the home and the children, she asked if I wanted to see them perform. I answered in the affirmative and a half hour later, 45 children sang “Everyone is beautiful in their own way . . .”. This was followed by the dancers and the acrobats. Ten boys formed a standing pyramid where the youngest one at the top loudly called out the rights of children: “I am a child. I have the right to a home. I have the right to food. I have the right to an education. I have the right to not be entered. . .” At the conclusion of the little program, a boy looked at me and said, “We have met before. I am the child who approached your car one rainy evening and you quickly rolled up your window and ignored me. Today we meet again, here, metamorphosis. I knew we would meet again because between you and me there is a link, a mental link . . . God our father.” And so it is, religious or not, makes no difference. There is a link you cannot ignore, not after a child looks you in the eye and says these words.
What I hope to convey with these words is the feeling I had . . . that these poor children who had been abandoned on the streets of Nairobi possess a strength and pride that I will never forget. They have achieved this through the theater that gives them a voice and an identity, that gives them a chance to convey their message and to contribute to their own livelihood.
That is Shangilia!
And now, here in Lund, in 2000, we are establishing the Friends of Shangilia Association.
I hope you will join us!
Anne Carlsvi, Bert Sjöholm, Siv Heurlin, Inger Berger, Elias Gustafsson Thörn, Karin Jansson, Elaine Bosak, Eileen Deaner, Jean Hudson, Lena Sidlöf Lundahl, Almut Peters, Lill Siroiney, Anna Lindsten Janson, Ingela Lindqvist, Charlene Shelton, Kajsa Nervall, Thomas Tselios, Ulrika Jacobsson, Ulla Sæther, Malin N White, Ewan Bush, Claudette Chapeau, Emelie Carlsson Gras, The Andetag Group, Aniara Perzon.
Anne Carlsvi, Chairperson
Aniara Perzon, Webmaster
At the last annual meeting Hanna attended, she spoke warmly of the proposal to set up a fund dedicated to encouraging self-help for individuals or groups through micro-loans or similar forms of support.
As a result, the Lund Friends of Shangilia Association established such a fund in Hanna’s memory after she passed away on December 26, 2009. The Fund will provide loans to young adults when they leave the orphanage and want to start up something of their own, and also to other neighborhoods of Kibagare that are in need.
In memory of Hanna, her friends donated 22,000 SEK at the time of her funeral.
Friends of Shangilia’s plusgiro account, pg 44000 89-1, Swish: 1236349831. Write "Hanna Bengtsson Fund" on the form.
You can contribute to the higher education of young women through the fund by depositing your donation in the Swedish plusgiro account, pg 44000 89-1, Swish: 1236349831 and writing “Margareta Anderson’s Memorial Fund” on the form.
Margareta Anderson, photo: Anne Carlsvi