Juma – The Man With Many Hats

Jambo! My name is Juma Karisa

Juma Karisa, or “JJ”, or just “J”… has been with us since the very start of our work here in Bamburi. Primarily employed as security, in reality he wears many hats… but lets allow him to tell his story…

In 2010 I was approached by the now Swahili head teacher MR Edward and lower primary head teacher Madam Judith inquiring about a vacant building that could be used as a school, this was how I found out about Kookaburra. Upon learning more about their plans, as well as their main donor, Mr Brian, I had every intention to help them. At that time we had quite a number of children roaming around and not schooling, and those in schools, were in terrible schools that hardly offered good education. I was a caretaker of a newly built 9 room house, so I decided to introduce them to the landlord and have them come to some sort of agreement. That didn’t work at first with the landlord sceptical about renting his building to be used as a school, although with much convincing, he finally agreed and is happy he rented it out to Kookaburra.
I do not have specific favourites, those cannot be counted as they are too many to list. I most certainly enjoy spending time around the children and staff, many days are filled with laughter, that’s what kids do; they bring joy.
I wear many hats, I am the plumber, carpenter, caretaker as well as a guard for the school, so you can imagine my battles, but the most challenging one is of the toilets. Having over 100 students sharing two toilets is an unimaginable mess in itself, as we speak, I am currently working on replacing a toilet drainage pipe that I last fixed back in 2013, such a headache but what is life without challenges?
Before I joined Kookaburra, my life really had no direction, it felt purposeless. I lived in a one room mud house, with no power or running water. Now, 8 years down the line, I am living in a one bedroom stone house with both power and good supply of running water. I was then single, no lady would have been interested in a man living in a mud house anyway, now I am the proud father of two and have a beautiful wife.
The atmosphere, the friendly environment, the loving and generous community, and having a boss that felt like family, one that never looked down upon me, one who always helped when I was faced with family financial problems and lastly, I have enjoyed watching these children develop and become wise right under the wing of Kookaburra.
I hope to one day own a business that would employ some of the Kookaburra children, especially those that are hard workers but are not very good with school work. The go-getters of the world.

Juma’s Gallery