Celebrity Families

EXCLUSIVE: Constance Hall shares the secret to parenting that Kenyans already know

“This is the village that I always talk about”

By Rebel Wylie

For most new parents, a trek from Australia to Kenya with a newborn would be the last thing on their mind, but for blogger Constance Hall and husband Denim Cooke it was a no-brainer.

While in hospital recuperating from the c-section delivery of sweet baby boy, Raja Wolfe in late May.

Hall received a message from Sarah Rosborg, one of the founders of Hall's charity of Choice, Rafiki Mwema.

"Sarah was messaging about the opening of 'The King's Castle," Hall tells Now To Love.

"She was asking me if I knew anyone that might want to come and I looked at Denim and we were both like ... 'Ummm yes. Us?'"

Constance Hall and husband Denim Cooke had no qualms about taking newborn, Raja to Kenya. Image: @UAVisuals
Constance Hall and husband Denim Cooke had no qualms about taking newborn, Raja to Kenya. Image: @UAVisuals

Rafiki Mwema do incredible work with children who have suffered horrific abuse. Using play therapy, and working with the communities to break the cycle of abuse, the charity looks after the children in the safe houses Hall and her community have helped fund.

Hall famously called out to her loyal community back in 2016 when the charity desperately needed funds to build a safe house for young girls. Called 'The Queens Castle' the safe house would mean the charity could help more young girls work towards recovery from the unthinkable trauma they had endured.

With an initial aim to raise $75,000, nobody was more surprised than Hall to learn that in several hours that total had exceed $100,000 rocketing to over $200,000 by the next day as her community rallied to change the lives of these often forgotten children.

Since then Hall has generously donated $1 from each sale of her best- selling books and fashion line, meaning that the charity, which relies solely on donations, could open 'The King's Castle' for the young boys of Rafiki Mwema who have faced atrocities you can not begin to imagine.

*Rafiki Mwema* support badly abused children in Kenya through play therapy. Image: @UAVisuals
Rafiki Mwema support badly abused children in Kenya through play therapy. Image: @UAVisuals

For Hall, heading to Kenya was a trip that was always meant to be. The 'King's Castle' opening presented the perfect opportunity and Hall wasn't going to let new motherhood stop her from answering the call to come.

"The logistics weren't as hard as you might think," laughs Hall. "We travel very light. We don't need porta-cots because we co-sleep, We don't need prams, because we baby carry and we don't need bottles because he breastfeeds. I'm so lucky like that."

Hall and Cooke and Cooke's sons from a previous relationship, Zeyke and Sunny boarded a plane for the trip that would change their life forever.

Hall calls the visit 'life changing'. Image: @UAVisuals
Hall calls the visit 'life changing'. Image: @UAVisuals

"Arriving at the farm was overwhelming, the love hits you like a brick wall and you instantly wonder how on earth you'll go back to normal life now that you've felt love like this." Hall gushes.

"You can't explain it because Rafiki Mwema is a feeling, the kids have no barriers, they love and they love completely. Not just me, everyone and each other."

"You can't explain it because *Rafiki Mwema* is a feeling" Image: @UAVisuals
"You can't explain it because Rafiki Mwema is a feeling" Image: @UAVisuals

AnneMarie Tipper, another Rafiki Mwema founder finds it difficult to find the words to explain just how important Hall's visit was.

"We have many visitors to Rafiki Mwema who have a huge impact to our children. Visitors they are excited to see and whose energy lives on once they go," sae says. "But nothing like the impact of Constance. She really is their Queen.

"Con stood in the middle of the little Queens and the love simply filled that room - and every room she went in while she was here.

"One of our girls, whose story would rip your heart into a million pieces, said that she can't believe that someone would send them money for their house. She said she felt warm when Con talked, and she was overwhelmed that someone cared enough to visit while smiling and laughing with them."

Cooke found huge love for the Masai. Image: @UAVisuals
Cooke found huge love for the Masai. Image: @UAVisuals

As for Cooke, he formed some special bonds over there too.

"I was scared I wouldn't get Denzy back!" Hall laughs.

"He fell in love with the Masai and they fell in love with him."

“This is the village that I always talk about”

As for Kenya itself, the biggest culture shock for Hall came from the workers of Rafiki Mwema.

"They bring their kids to work with them! That's so f*cking cool," says the mum of a tribe which has seven children combined.

"They all look after each other's kids, even those who don't have kids yet. In Australia if we brought our kid to work everyone would be like 'occupational health and safety!' Or 'I'm not looking after it, I didn't have the baby!'" laughs Hall.

"But their kids are always climbing on each other's backs, swinging of someone's shoulders. It's really inspiring. This is the village that I always talk about, I wanna live in a village!"

Hall took clothes from her fashion line over for the children of *Rafiki Mwema*. Image: @UAVisuals
Hall took clothes from her fashion line over for the children of Rafiki Mwema. Image: @UAVisuals

For Hall that village extends beyond the Kenyan borders. Having amassed a fan base of millions, the Perth blogger wants her community to know how important their support for her, and for Rafiki Mwema in turn is.

"I want them to know that they did this. They kept Rafiki's doors open," she says. "That the sacrifice they made and continue to make might not mean much to them but there is a pure hearted child on the other side of the world who has so much love and gratitude for what they have done.

"And I want them to understand that I believe everything happens for a reason, I met Sarah for a reason and they were reading my post that day and decided to donate for a reason. They are now connected and I don't know what reason that is but they should remain connected, this is a family."

Kenya had been calling Hall for a while. Image: @UAVisuals
Kenya had been calling Hall for a while. Image: @UAVisuals

#BondsForRafiki

Never too far from controversy, Hall's return to Australia has seen her embroiled with a scandal that blew way out of proportion.

"The Bonds thing? Oh man," says Hall.

"Heaps of people were messaging me about the new Bonds campaign saying it looked so much like my 'Queens' brand. It's a gorgeous campaign so I was flattered and then I had the idea that I could get Bonds on board with Rafiki Mwema as part of the whole Queen movement, so I wrote a post (jokingly) telling them that they should have asked me to model and that they should donate to Rafiki Mwema as well."

"I guess I was still loved up after Kenya and completely forgot that the internet has no sense of humour. All of a sudden I was being accused of bullying Bonds and Bonds was being accused of plagiarism, and all I know is that the intention was missed and Rafiki Mwema shouldn't be expecting a call from Bonds any time soon," she laughs.

"On the bright side I've decided to design my own line of undies! And of course they will support Rafiki so all is well that ends well!"