Gayle’s Kenya calling
AS Gayle Greenwood walks around Gabriel Learning Centre in Nakuru, Kenya she is followed by children calling out “Gigi, Gigi”.
The Fremantle resident is fondly known to the children as Gigi, the name her three grandchildren call her.
The 72-year-old is volunteering for Nakuru Hope, the charity behind the centre, for the fifth time.
Gayle said seeing the benefits the centre had on the families, “and certainly the children” kept her going back for more.
Her first visit in 2009 came after having coffee with charity founder Susan Saleeba, who she worked with at a shop in Subiaco.
“I told Susan that I was feeling restless after volunteering in India with a medical team. I’d got out of nursing after India and when Susan said she was going to Nakuru, Kenya to start her own project, I booked straight away.”
Gayle nursed for 49 years, working at Royal Perth Hospital, Hollywood Hospital, Mt Lawley Private Hospital, The Mount and Fremantle Hospital.
In between helping in the kitchen, visiting families, cleaning homes, handing out lollies to children in the slums and reading to the orphans, Gayle is often called on for her medical expertise.
She said it was important to help people in their style, not the Australian style.
“I’ve developed a close friendship with Susan. We’ve got that shared knowledge of the families and what’s happening in Kenya,” Gayle said. “It’s hard to describe the slums. “It’s not until you see it first hand you realise the volume of the need. I’ve spoken to my grandchildren about it and they look at the photos and they have a little understanding. They ask about the children and their lives. It gives them a better understanding of what we have in Australia.”
Gayle, who also volunteers at the Nakuru Hope op shop in Fremantle, has not ruled out future trips to Nakuru. For more information, visit www.nakuruhope.org.
Regional editor Denise Cahill was in Nakuru, Kenya with Nakuru Hope founder Susan Saleeba.
Gayle Greenwood with Kenyan baby Brighton on the day he was born.