• Open Arms International

Christmas Tradition in Kenya

It’s an age old tradition in parts of Kenya that mud huts and other traditional housing get a face lift during Christmas. “Christmas is a time when you are meant to remember the good things in life and appreciate it. Our grandparents made sure we appreciated the mud houses we lived in when we were younger and we feel its important to teach our children about this. This simple art carries our heritage”, explained one of the houseparents at Open Arms Village.

Decorating the traditional kitchens at Open Arms is a communal event. Together with the family, the mother and children work together to create some of the most beautiful and elaborate works using different coloured mud, cow dung, charcoal paste and banana leaves. “Kuboma”, as the practice is traditionally called, can take anywhere from a day to a whole week depending on the phases required for the mud to dry before decorating begins. Different plants can be used to make patterns on the floors or walls. The aloe vera plant is sometimes used to make wavy patterns along the floor of the mud kitchen before it dries.

One mother explained, “The children get to decide what kind of decoration they want on the wall. And if they choose to have a plain grey wall, then I will honor that, too. This practice teaches them patience, how to work together and to appreciate what the earth gives us”.

The children enjoy participating in this holiday tradition. One child stated “I like working on the kitchen with my parents. I can see the work of my hands.”

As I reflect on this year, I can see the work of YOUR hands! Open Arms Village is thriving because of you. I am truly thankful for all you do for these children and the surrounding community.


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