Young Kenyan girl raises money for an orphanage in Nairobi through a concert in Dubai

A Kenyan orphanage will soon be alive with smiles, thanks to the generous donations of Dubai residents. For Fiona Kirubi, visiting the SOS orphanage in Nairobi, where she grew up, was a regular occurrence. But this week, the 22-year-old, who is studying for her degree here in Dubai, will take the children a piece of the United Arab Emirates.

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"It is heart-breaking to see the children on the streets of Nairobi," says Fiona Kirubi.

Fiona left for Kenya last Friday with the proceeds of a concert she organised as part of her marketing and advertising course at the American University. She now plans to spend a proportion of the money raised on the children who, she knows only too well, have little to look forward to.

Fiona, a third-year student organised the Queen Ffi's Kenyan Night, to mark her country's 42nd Madaraka Day celebrations. Madaraka day, a Kiswahili word which means independence, is a special time of the year when all Kenyans come together to celebrate an important time in their history when they took their first step to self-rule from the British. On June 1, 1963, Kenyans received their independence from the British government following a long, hard and bloody struggle. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was the first president.

Fiona spent more than a year arranging the concert. She worked tirelessly to bring a selection of the very best musicians from Kenya to the UAE and flew them in especially for the occasion. The evening also featured top musicians from Kenya's neighbouring countries, Tanzania and Uganda.

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Fiona Kirubi (C) with the artist during Kenya evening at Al Nasr Leisureland.

"I am so happy to be able to give something back. The event was a huge success and I am pleased everyone enjoyed themselves," she says. "When I get to the orphanage I am going to use some of the money to take the children to lunch or maybe throw a big party. They deserve to be spoiled sometimes."

The Kenyan Ambassador Bishar Abdirahman attended the event held at The Lodge in Al Nasr Leisureland. More than 2,000 Kenyans and friends, including prominent personalities, took part in the celebrations. For the more than 5,000 Kenyans living in the UAE, especially the youth, this concert was a perfect opportunity to meet fellow citizens.

Fiona added: "In the UAE there is not much social and cultural opportunity offered to Kenyans who reside here. Given that music is a huge part of Kenyan's heritage, I managed to get some great musicians and groups on board."

Necessary Noise, a duo, along with solo artist Prince Adio, were joined by Chameleon, an act from Uganda and Mr Nice from Tanzania.

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The event was a huge success.

All the acts have been taking the music scene at home and abroad by storm.

Fiona said: "I would like to thank everyone for their on-going support which helped make the event such a huge success. It proved a historical and important occasion and I am already looking into planning next year's event. I hope to continue to offer social and cultural events to the Kenyan community in the UAE, to make people feel part of a bigger family. My main aim is to create a meeting point through social and cultural events for the Kenyans living here and those passing through Dubai."

The SOS Children's Village of Nairobi is located in the Eastlands, a district on the outskirts of the capital city. The region has grown rapidly and today has a population of 1.5 million.

"It is heart-breaking to see the children on the streets of Nairobi," she says. "When I go for a meal in Dubai I always feel so terrible if I cannot finish what is on my plate. At home if you don't clear your plate there is always someone on the street outside your home or restaurant who is grateful for the food."

The Village was inaugurated in 1975 and comprises 15 family houses, the director's house, an administrative building and a few others.

The SOS kindergarten is also attended by the children of the vicinity. Also belonging to the Village is a youth hostel and a polytechnic which offers courses in carpentry and domestic science.

In order to speed up the reintegration process of the youth a semi-independent housing programme was started that enables them to act independently in various avenues of life. A chicken farm provides not only for the Village's own requirements, but also brings extra income.

The families contribute to their self-sufficiency by growing banana, papaya and vegetables.

"I would also like to say a huge thank you to Swift Freight, Kenya Airways, Ramada Continental Hotel, Enoc and Spinneys who all sponsored the event and made it possible," he said.