We weren’t sure what to expect when we were told that Kenya Keys was to be the beneficiary of the Fairy Festival, an event that had gained fame for its magic and sheer visual beauty. Commemorating a tragic family event, the death of a newborn girl, Willa, the Tempest family had turned that sorrow into something beautiful. They had decided to have a yearly event that would not only unite family and friends but also benefit a charity they as a family wanted to assist. Thanks to the recommendation of one of our interns, Sara Tempest, we were chosen to be the benefciiary for 2010. (To discover more about this special event, click here.)
Little did we know the hours and hours of work that went into the Fairy Festival. Mothers and daughters had worked for hours over the summer, creating all kinds of saleable crafts, from beautiful headbands to costumes to quilts. Homemade treats and children’s novelties were also created, all to be sold on the night of the festival. We arrived hours before the start to find women stringing lights and hiding beautiful little handmade fairies in trees and in the “secret garden.” There was an area set up for storytelling, a mermaid pond, and a pirate ship with swords awaiting the little costumed pirates who would arrive to have sword fights. Grown-up pirates helped the little “maties” climb aboard the 20 foot pirate ship, while grown-up fairies accompanied the little ones, all dressed as fairies, pirates, or gnomes, to stop for “fairy food” or to pull a treat off the candy tree. Fairy houses were floating on the swimming pool, small tables were set up for crafts and creations. It was a sight to behold.
We set up our African display table, cooking utensils, homemade children’s toys, make-shift educational aids created in the bush – all treasures brought from the community we serve in Kenya. We also set up a “little Africa” where the children could experience a piece of African culture by climbing on a cot under a mosquito net, carrying water on their heads, rolling out traditional chapatti, and trying to read by tiny dim lights.
The forecast had looked formidable, but skies cleared as the fairies started to arrive. Soon the place was packed, with more and more families arriving for the event. It was the visual feast I had been promised. Goods were selling like crazy. Fairies were running about in wild abandon. Pirates were wielding their plastic swords. The night took on a most unique magic, as all enjoyed themselves and we got to talk with anyone that was interested in learning about the organization that was to reap the rewards of the evening.
What a way for a family to turn their sorrow of three years ago into a beautiful night of joy and giving. How I wish our young Kenyan friends could have seen all the work and love that went into an event that would allow them to benefit from its success! As the rain came down just after we had cleaned up, Brent and I looked at each other and agreed it was one of the best nights we’d ever shared.
Thank you to the Tempest and Ivory families for making this possible! The money raised will be used for the building of a 160-girl domitory for the Samburu Secondary School in Kenya.