York welcomes Kenya’s Mully Children’s Family

Above: Visitors from the Mully Children’s Family speak at York during an undergraduate class on African studies and development studies

Taking a break from their many media appearances and performances at churches and schools, members of the Mully Children’s Family (MCF) brought their North American Safari to York University so they could get a look at the Keele campus. They came to talk with York students about their lives in Kenya and to learn about university life in Canada.

The Mully Children’s Family is a non-profit home and rehabilitation centre for orphaned children from impoverished backgrounds throughout Kenya. Over the summer, several members of the York community, including two students from the York International Internship Program (YIIP), had the opportunity to visit and work with the MCF in rural Kenya and were often asked by the children there, “When are we going to see your school?” That day finally came on Nov. 10 when the group arrived and was able to experience university life by participating in graduate and undergraduate classes in development studies and African studies.

Right: Members of the MCF tour the Keele campus

Mully Children’s Family started 20 years ago when Dr. Charles M. Mulli left his life as a businessperson to pursue his passion for working with street kids and other vulnerable youth in Kenya. Since then, the organization has helped more than 6,000 children overcome poverty and attain a better life. Currently, the MCF hosts 2,010 students in primary and secondary schools, as well as in vocational training programs and Kenyan universities.

Impressed by the diversity at York, Rama Randu, a Grade 11 student, was happy to meet with African professors and students. When addressing the undergraduate Introduction to African Studies class, Anastacia Nyawera, a Grade 10 student, announced, “We had the chance to visit some universities in the US, but York is the first one we’ve been to in Canada. It’s very big.”

In addition to discussing political legitimacy and the non-governmental sector, MCF students shared with York students accounts of their lives in Kenya. When asked what was the greatest misconception about Africa by the undergraduate class, Grace Cheech Masaka said, “There is a belief that nothing good can come out of Africa, but this (pointing to her MCF brothers and sisters) is one of them.” They also shared their powerful voices by performing Kiswahili gospel songs as a choir.

Above: MCF visitors and York students together in front of Vanier Residence

The visit, organized by the World Bank’s International Development Association, reflects the continuing internationalization of York University. “Hopefully the next time we see these bright students, they will be entering York as part of our vibrant student body,” said Ines Buchli, theatre professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

For more information, visit the Mully Children’s Family Web site. The organization’s North American Safari continued touring across Canada to British Columbia through Dec. 14.

Submitted by Jamil Jivani and Jessica Jackel, undergraduate students in York’s International Development Studies Program and 2009 interns in the York International Internship Program