“You won’t get a better reception in all of Kenya,” Tish Pearson of the Robert Grace Foundation tells Christian before he heads off for Nairobi. The St Paul’s Orphanage, just outside Nairobi, is supported by the foundation. “We’d be delighted if The Ball could visit the children there.”
Leaving Andrew back at base, Christian goes off to visit the orphanage with Joe Mutua, Regional Director of Special Olympics. The Ball is warmly received — although, to Christian’s surprise, few of the children are actually football enthusiasts. Nevertheless, everyone kicks and signs The Ball and laughs and smiles are everywhere.
Joe talks at length to Margaret, the “mother” of the orphanage. He discovers that 15 of the children at the home are intellectually disabled. He immediately arranges for them to take part in Special Olympics sporting events in the future (SO do sports other than football, of course) and suggests that two of the older residents, James and Carol, be trained by Special Olympics to offer sports coaching locally.
Joe also puts Margaret in touch with Alive & Kicking, who made The Ball here in Nairobi, and tells her that this will almost certainly result in the donation of footballs to the home. He also promises to make sure that Margaret is put in contact with MYSA, who also offer sporting activities and other social support locally.
It seems to be an innate feature of The Ball that it makes connections wherever it goes, whether between people or between organisations. And today, it seems that the connection that has been made with Joe at Special Olympics will result in some real, tangible and lasting benefits for the children of St Pauls.