Troops from the Royal Regiment of Scotland have made new young friends on a visit to an orphanage during their time in Kenya.
About a dozen soldiers took time out of their training exercises to deliver gifts and supplies to Nanyuki Children’s Home, which cares for around 120 children up to the age of 18.
Some are brought to the orphanage at only a day old, abandoned in hospital and taken by police to the home, staff said.
Others are rescued from forced marriages at as young as seven while some are dumped at the entrance to the home.
Supported by the Child Welfare Society of Kenya, the orphanage tries to find new families for the children and supports them through college and into work.
Some babies and toddlers need constant care for illness and disease when they first come to the home.
Army regiments living in Laikipia airbase during training exercises try to support local charities in the nearby town of Nanyuki.
Around 900 soldiers from 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, battle group (2SCOTS) have been in the area since mid January on a large-scale exercise designed to test their preparations for future deployments in trouble spots.
Officers from 2SCOTS visited the orphanage to find out what they needed and a group of soldiers later returned with sports equipment, stationery, food and drink.
The children thanked the soldiers for the donations but most seemed more interested in trying on the distinctive Tam O’Shanter caps of the regiment.
Bernard Sambo, a teacher at the home, said: “We appreciate the help of the Army. The kids love it when the soldiers come in uniform, they have fun playing with them and look forward to the visits.
“Some of the children here were abandoned, some were rescued from communities that try to force early marriages, some were left in hospitals and the police bring them to us.
“There are children brought to us sometimes only one day old and some stay until they are 18.
“We take them to college when they are old enough and link them with communities who help them get jobs so that they can start their own lives.”
The female soldiers seemed particularly popular with the children and posed for a number of selfie photos.
Private Jess Robshaw, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, said: “I was looking forward to it but obviously you’re a bit unsure how we’ll be received but the kids are amazing, just so friendly, and love the attention.
“We brought down some hoola hoops, footballs, crisps, juice, paper and crayons – little things that they can play with ‘cos they don’t get a lot.
“This is definitely my highlight of the trip, the best thing I’ve done out here I reckon.”
Captain Rob Syfret, from Glasgow, said: “I think about 50 of the kids tried on my Tam O’Shanter, they loved it and were passing it around to have a go.
“It’s definitely an eye opener. I wasn’t sure what the atmosphere would be like in the home because the kids are in what you think is a desperate situation, but most of them seem so full of life and their smiles are infectious.”
The 32-year-old reservist joked: “They all suited the caps, we don’t start them too young but maybe I’ll be able to get them into the reserves in a few years.”
The visit was organised by Staff Sergeant Sarah Gibson who bought the supplies from local shops.
The 36-year-old from Cumbria, who has a young child herself, was delighted to see the response.
“Each group that comes out to train in Kenya likes to do something for the local community and we wanted to help out here if we could, so I met some of the staff and found out what they needed,” she said.
“Our unit donated some money and I went and bought the stuff from a local shop in Nanyuki.
“Being a mum I know what kids are like, they’re just happy to have people to spend time with them and I can appreciate that these kids possibly don’t get one-on-one attention because there are so many, so it’s so nice to come down and help out. “