Der sieb­te Ein­trag oder „The lega­cy we shall lea­ve behind is the lives we touched“

Der sieb­te Ein­trag oder „The lega­cy we shall lea­ve behind is the lives we touched“

Julia­ne Kratzer 


Die­ser Text ist das Trans­skript eines Inter­views, das ich mit Emi­ly Wan­ji­ku, der Mana­ge­rin und wahr­schein­lich wich­tigs­ten Per­son von SAS, geführt habe. Ins­ge­samt haben wir 36 Minu­ten gespro­chen, was abge­tippt wahr­schein­lich 6 A4 Sei­ten erge­ben hät­te. Des­we­gen habe ich ver­sucht, so gut es geht zu kür­zen, ohne den Sinn zu ver­än­dern. Aber kei­ne Sor­ge, der Text ist immer noch ziem­lich aus­führ­lich. Aus­ge­las­se­ne Tei­le sind mit […] gekenn­zeich­net. Für alle, deren Lese-Durch­hal­te­ver­mö­gen nicht für die­sen Bei­trag reicht, gibt es ein paar Audio­da­tei­en mit Schnip­sel aus unse­rem Gespräch. Viel Spaß und ich hof­fe, dass die Spra­che kei­ne Pro­ble­me bereitet.

Julia­ne: Hel­lo Emi­ly. Thank you so much for doing this with me. Befo­re we start, could you may­be descri­be what you were doing befo­re you star­ted working for SAS, so that the rea­ders have a litt­le back­ground information? 

Emi­ly: Yes. It´s my plea­su­re to talk to you, Julia­na. Thanks so much for crea­ting time, thanks so much for fin­ding it in your time to talk to me. My name is Emi­ly Wan­ji­ku, I am 53 years old and befo­re I star­ted working for Save a Soul orga­niz­a­ti­on, I was a high school tea­cher. I taught in a Boys‚ school after gra­dua­ting from my uni­ver­si­ty edu­ca­ti­on as a tea­cher. I taught in a Boys´ school for 18 years and wit­hin tho­se 18 years it was a pri­vi­le­ge for me to work for young boys. And I deri­ved a lot of hap­pi­ness working for the youth and I lear­ned so much. And I think this is what later made me want to work more and more for kids, becau­se […] I even deve­lo­ped an inte­rest in real­ly lis­tening to them, hel­ping them out in their per­so­nal issu­es. And after like 14 years in tea­ching, I deci­ded to do a mas­ters in youth gui­d­ance and coun­sel­ling – like beca­me a psy­cho­lo­gist for the youth. Yeah and may­be tho­se are the same skills that I use to work here, becau­se I get to real­ly under­stand what child­ren need and what they go through in life and how to help them. […]

I deri­ved a lot of hap­pi­ness working for the youth and I lear­ned so much.

I get to real­ly under­stand what child­ren need and what they go through in life and how to help them.

Julia­ne: […] How long have you been working for Save a Soul now? 

It´s been now, I think my 11th year, becau­se I got to know father Kima­ni and Lisa Gru­ber in two thousand and I think 11, and that is I think the time they were doing a sur­veil on whe­re they want to start this. […] I joi­ned them the first time, when they bought this pie­ce of land whe­re Save a Soul child­ren cen­ter is. […] And that´s the time they told me they were star­ting buil­ding Save a Soul child­ren cen­ter. And from then, me and Lisa and father were in inter­ac­tions, and I real­ly star­ted now inter­ac­ting with them, sharing ide­as on how to do this. We shared a lot. And whenever they cal­led upon me to do anything for them, I was the­re. So, it could be about 11 years now.

Julia­ne: Wow, that is a very long time!

Emi­ly: lacht Yeah, a very long time

Julia­ne: And how chal­len­ging is this work for you personally? 

Emi­ly: Yeah, as much as this work is also full of hap­pi­ness, suc­cess, sto­ries about kids deve­lo­ping, gro­wing up and watching fami­lies chan­ge and watching child­ren to grow up dif­fe­rent from the cir­cum­s­tan­ces they were befo­re, the­re are also chal­len­ges that come along the way. One of the major chal­len­ges is may­be some­ti­mes […] you´ve real­ly inves­ted a lot of yourself to kids. And all of a sud­den you rea­li­ze: One or two kids have drop­ped out of high school. I think for me has real­ly, real­ly made me… Tho­se were my lowest moments. When I see a child has so much oppor­tu­ni­ty to chan­ge from their situa­ti­on. Ever­ything is pro­vi­ded for them. They have a pro­mi­sing future unli­ke any other child, that didn’t come to Save a Soul, but all of a sud­den in high school a child does not want to go on. And it has hap­pen­ed with 3 of our child­ren, no actual­ly four, becau­se ano­t­her one drop­ped out last year. So tho­se are my lowest moments. Some­ti­mes I feel like I give it my all, I want this child to go on and on. I call the child, I go to their home, I tell the child “plea­se, you need to go on with edu­ca­ti­on”, but at one point they real­ly do not want to go on. That is one of the chal­len­ges. And that one is the major one. […]

Julia­ne: Yeah, and I also can ima­gi­ne that it´s not easy to orga­ni­ze so many kids. 

Emi­ly: Yes!

Julia­ne: How do you main­tain disci­pli­ne among them, and you alrea­dy tal­ked about kids drop­ping out of high school, but do you have any other pro­blems with dis­obey­ing kids? 

Emi­ly: Yeah, we do becau­se […] we have a list of like six child­ren, who we are […] moni­to­ring real­ly clo­se­ly. Becau­se when they are in your hands, […] when you are see­ing them every evening, they come and they say “Oh we meet mom”. So, they know, mom wants us this way. But now when they are out of your hands and they have joi­ned other schools, I am not able to fol­low them to that point. So how am I able to see that child, that we brought up at Save a Soul, now is not real­ly inta­ct, is […] when they bring their aca­de­mic results home. And you see a child, who was an achie­ver, has gone so much down now in aca­de­mic per­for­mance. So, you are able to detect that this child has some indi­sci­pli­ne, kind of. […] So, what we´ve done, that the­se child­ren, that we think are a chal­len­ge in disci­pli­ne: we always want to meet them after they clo­se school and dis­cuss with them the issu­es. Plus, we want to visit their homes […] and work with the guar­di­ans too, becau­se they have very litt­le time with us when they clo­se school. So, it´s not as easy and more kids from m SAS are going to high school. lacht. It´s a big num­ber now. […] So, we keep alert, the­re is no day you sit here and think you are com­for­ta­ble […], becau­se we also see the suc­cess of an orga­niz­a­ti­on is not when you are brin­ging up kids when they are near you, but when they gra­dua­te. When they are in high school and go to colleges.


Yeah, as much as this work is also full of hap­pi­ness […] the­re are also chal­len­ges that come along the way. 

The­re is no day you sit here and think you are comfortable. 

 Some­ti­mes I feel like I give it my all, […] but at one point they real­ly do not want to go on.

 Julia­ne: Now ano­t­her ques­ti­on about the kids: The kids that come here, they come from very poor fami­lies. Some of them even had to expe­ri­ence vio­lence. When the kids come here, how do they adapt to the new envi­ron­ment, becau­se ever­ything is new? New faces, new house, no parents […]?

Emi­ly: Yes, […] we thank god that SAS is a very friend­ly envi­ron­ment from ent­ran­ce the gate. So, the first and fore­mo­st mis­si­on and visi­on is to crea­te and accu­si­ve envi­ron­ment for the child, a friend­ly envi­ron­ment. The minu­te a child comes in from the gate, whoever is recei­ving that child has to hug that child, has to smi­le to the child, make the child feel wel­co­med. This is a SAS thing. This should be the beha­vi­or of anyo­ne invi­t­ing that child to SAS, becau­se the first thing is shock. I am from the slum, oh what is this, I have never used even a modern latri­ne, a modern toi­let, I´ve never slept in a place whe­re the­re are many peop­le, you know. May­be some have not even seen a bed or a meal on a dai­ly basis. So, the first thing is ori­en­ta­ti­on of this child. […] Even when the guar­di­an is detaching herself or hims­elf from the child, the child should be very com­for­ta­ble to be left in safe hands. […] No child has ever, okay, we had that child who cried once that they don’t want, they need their mother, and it´s true. The child wit­hin the first week – it had very poor back­ground – but insis­ted on being home. […]. And we had to take the child back home […]. But that is one in a mil­li­on. […] The majo­ri­ty of the child­ren want to be with us becau­se of the con­du­ci­ve envi­ron­ment of living.

Julia­ne: And that´s also kind of the next ques­ti­on. You always say that SAS is a big fami­ly and the kids call you mom and like you said they bro­ther and sis­ter to each other. Why do think it is important to run this child­ren cen­ter as a fami­ly and not just as an institution? 

Emi­ly: Ah thank you Julia­ne, good ques­ti­on. For me – that’s me, Emi­ly: if it were to beco­me an insti­tu­ti­on, then that´s not my cal­ling. And we keep insis­ting that to ever­yo­ne. […] As much as it has some rules and regu­la­ti­ons that are for an insti­tu­ti­on, it has to ope­ra­te as a home. Becau­se this child alrea­dy has a home at home with their par­ents and their guar­di­ans. […] But still, this is a second home, yeah. It has to be a second fami­ly home. With the values of a fami­ly – values of a fami­ly are respect, love, trust, pati­ence with one ano­t­her. And the basic one is love. Then this child has no other live. They come here at a very dedi­ca­te sta­ge of their live. Seven years, six years, five years. And they stay with you until they are four­te­en. They have more time with you than with their home. […] So, you can­not deny them this fami­ly up brin­ging. It has to be from SAS. And children´s homes should be homes. May­be some­ti­mes you are told by the government: “it can never be a home, call it a cen­ter” But by ope­ra­ti­on and by sheer values of a fami­ly for me it should be a home. […] And you know in psy­cho­lo­gy we say, if you miss any sta­ge in life, let´s say if you miss being loved when you are young, tho­se are the peop­le later they don’t know how to love in the socie­ty. They are very rough, they are bul­lies. Our child­ren even, when they go to high school, they know how to take care of one ano­t­her. Some of them even beco­me lea­ders, pre­fects, becau­se of the fami­ly life, we give them.

Julia­ne: Thank you, very well said.

Emi­ly: Thank you Juliana.

The first and fore­mo­st mis­si­on and visi­on is to crea­te and accu­si­ve envi­ron­ment for the child.

The child should be very com­for­ta­ble to be left in safe hands.

It has to be a second fami­ly home. With the values of a family.

Julia­ne: I must tell you: I see you as a per­son full of hope. And its very nice to see, but I can also ima­gi­ne, that this job can some­ti­mes be a litt­le hard and frus­tra­ting. Like you alrea­dy said, some kids they go back home, they drop out of high school. What gives you hope to con­ti­nue doing what you are doing? 

Emi­ly: lacht Thank you Julia­na. What gives me hope? Per­so­nal­ly, I am a per­son who medi­ta­tes a lot. I think I value medi­ta­ti­on. Every day I wake up in the morning, I medi­ta­te on what I do. In the event of some kind of chal­len­ges I give mys­elf some medi­ta­ti­on. And in the medi­ta­ti­on I look to whe­re we are com­ing from and whe­re we are hea­ded. […] What gives me a lot of hope to go on is: I have a very sup­por­ti­ve manage­ment struc­tu­re. From the foun­ders Father Kima­ni and Lisa to begin with […]. In the event I am faced with any chal­len­ge, tho­se peop­le, I know, they got my back and I can count on them. I can count on them any time. […] And apart from working for them, they are my friends. That gives me a lot of hope. That I can have peop­le I can real­ly work with and rely on. The team workers here they have real­ly ent­e­red it – my frame of working. They now, what mom likes. We chal­len­ge one ano­t­her, they are my friends. I encou­ra­ge them every time: Talk to me, talk to me, let´s talk to one ano­t­her. That gives me hope for tomor­row. If they were a resis­ting team and an undi­sci­pli­ned team, I would real­ly feel hopeless. When I see the child­ren and the way they love and they are able to love back […]. You need no more hap­pi­ness than in this thing: loving child­ren and they love you back. You know? […] That gives me so much hope. I look at the many kids that are qua­li­fied to be in high school. That in its­elf is so much hope and actual­ly tells me, live on Emi­ly, live on, to see this kids get out and impact posi­tively to the socie­ty. It is so much hope, Julia­ne, you can not ima­gi­ne. I look at our first kids, James and Simon, who are alrea­dy in the uni­ver­si­ty, […] and I see a lot of hope. […] I can­not even wait to see tomor­row, when they gra­dua­te, get jobs and come back here, invest back. […] Then when I see SAS gro­wing, now it alrea­dy has its own school, surely. And I real­ly know, what a school is. With very litt­le time, we shall even be com­ing an inco­me to sup­port our pro­jects, we shall have more kids to sup­port. That in its­elf gives so much hope, 100 per­cent to go on with this work. And encou­ra­ging yourself to know, it´s not back­wards, it´s for­ward, it can only be forward.

You need no more hap­pi­ness than in this thing: loving child­ren and they love you back. You know?

I can­not even wait to see tomor­row, when they gra­dua­te, get jobs and come back here, invest back.

It´s not back­wards, it´s for­ward; it can only be forward.

Julia­ne: Yeah, and tal­king about for­ward and future: What is your wish for the future of SAS?

Emi­ly: Yeah, my wish is to see more of our kids, espe­cial­ly from the foun­da­ti­on of SAS, gra­dua­te to high school and uni­ver­si­ty. […] To have more kids come in and get sup­por­ted and impact posi­tively in the socie­ty. I can´t wait to see SAS also deve­lop on the edu­ca­ti­on side of a school. May­be, may­be some day […] we get even a col­le­ge, for our youth, our young poor child­ren, that can­not get to a uni­ver­si­ty. And I am very opti­mistic about that. And I pray that it will hap­pen one day. SAS will real­ly grow and it´s going to impact so posi­tively. That’s my pray­er, that’s my wish. And I am almost so sure that it will hap­pen. In its own time. […]

Julia­ne: Thank you, very well said. So we´ve near­ly come to an end of our litt­le talk. May­be you can end this inter­view by tel­ling us, what is your favo­ri­te part about this job? 

Emi­ly: Lacht My favo­ri­te part? My favo­ri­te part is when I can get free time to sit with the kids and not only talk to them, but dance with them. Even at my age, I can chal­len­ge them with a dance. That is my favo­ri­te time, becau­se it makes me laugh so much and I real­ly like to see their efforts. […] I also love it when I can see them not only with so much of books and home­work. My favo­ri­te time is sit­ting with them out­side, watching them play­ing at their own time, free in the com­pound. That is also a very important time. And even I think, I am loving the moments, when we can have visi­tors from out­side, from our Aus­tri­an fami­ly. Wow, I am loving it. Becau­se […] they are peop­le who can also tell you: “you do well, you do a good job”. […] I think tho­se are my best moments. […].

Julia­ne: Thank you what a beau­ti­ful ending. […] It was a plea­su­re tal­king to you.

Emi­ly: […] Thank you so much Julia­na, for your time, we hope to have more in the future.

Dan­ke auch an alle, die bis zum Ende gele­sen haben! Und dan­ke lie­be Emi­ly, dass du so vie­le Leben berührst. Mei­nes eingeschlossen.

Ich wer­de wei­ter berichten.

Bis bald,



Der sieb­te Ein­trag oder „The lega­cy we shall lea­ve behind is the lives we touched“
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