"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Building Futures, Inc.

Building Futures, Inc.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday - July 13, 2012

We both woke up around 2am this morning and had great difficulty returning to sleep.  Then the rain started at 5am and didn't stop until just before we left the guest house. Kevin came with two pairs of shoes.  Both of them exactly the same - running sneakers.  Not a great choice if you have to deal with the Kenyan rains or the thick clay that lines the roads we walk.  I didn't want him to get both pairs of shoes wet, so we went without running... we did, however, walk very briskly to the school.

The rain stayed away for the remainder of the day.  Kevin had his satellite watch working so we could see how fast we were walking and how far we had gone.  As we walked through the university we were met with smiles and laughter... for at least the first 1/2 mile.  I know this because that was when I realized that my fly was down.  I tried to quietly zip up, but it the sound broke the silence as we walked.  "Nice," was Kevin's only comment.  That made me laugh out loud.  The next 3 1/2 miles was fast paced.  Surprisingly, we didn't see many people we knew.  We exited the university grounds into a village with people selling anything they had to sell.  Whole corn ears were cooking over an open flame, mandazi (the equivalent of a fried donut) were cooking, mangoes, avocados... you get the picture.  This is usually where are throw out my first Luo (the language of tribe we work with).  "Oyaore," (oh-yah-oh-ray with a rolling r) I'd say and the older women would immediately respond, "oyahorenya."  "Idi nadi?" "Adi maber."  It's an exchange I like to engage in.  It's a beautiful language that I speak very little of, but it's enough to let people know that I care.  The brief comments I made were the equivalent of, "Good morning"  "Good morning to you."  "How are you?"  "I am well."  THe comments that follow are spoken so quickly that I can only understand the "goodbye" at the end (oh-ree-tee-ah-en-ya).  The subsequent laughter is infectious.

As we walked, Job called to say that Samuel was so excited to see us that he started walking in our direction.  We were still 20 minutes out, so I told him that we'd look out for him.  We then came upon our next turn down the dirt road.  "I thought it was the next one," Kevin said.  He was right.  S we continued to walk, I recognized nothing.  Not the houses, not the path, not the landscape.  The dead end was the giveaway.  A man on the other side of the stream signaled for us to walk down into a refine and cross the stream.  There were rocks in the water that prevented us from getting wet, and we hustled up the other side.  He asked us where we were going, and when we said, "Mbaka Oromo," he said he would take us to the path.  "This is a short cut." We walked through his back yard, and his front yard, and his garden. I recognized Mama Helen's home as we came through the maize field.  I thanked him for the help, and assured him that we may take that shortcut again.  I don't know how much time we saved, but the diversion meant we missed Sammy.  I called Job and learned that they were together. It took them another 15 minutes to get back to where we waited in front of the school.

Sammy walked towards us repeating, "Jambo sana! Hello!  Welcome! Karibu!"  He continued even while he bear-hugged both of us.  Sam is over 50 years old, but strong as an ox.  He probably looks 10 years younger.  We then walked arm-and-arm to the primary school to say hello to the teachers  before beginning our discussions about the clinic.  It was nice to hear children yelling, "Kevin!" from their classrooms as we walked through the courtyard.  He grinned and waved to every one.

We were met with wide smiles from the faculty.  And peanuts and tea.  As a visitor, you can't enter any building without being given something.  Inside, Marlene VanEs and her friend Laura were talking.  They are representatives from PALS (Partnership Africa-Lansing Schools), and are here working on a garden and erosion projects.  I found Marlene's brother Peter talking to Caleb in the library.  We then delivered the most recent supply of re-useable pads to Caleb.  These two bags were supplied by the nursing students/staff from Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher.  Marlene and her crew then showed us the garden that was dug and began explaining the drip irrigation and guttering system that they'll be installing.  They are a brilliant and talented group and are doing marvelous things.

Although I don't think I mentioned it yet, Job and Kevin have been continually talking about racing.  Job has challenged him to a 100 meter race and has been adamant that Kevin doesn't stand a chance. They've been going back and forth for the last two days, and today was no different. 

We headed up to the clinic and met the several of the committee members at the site.  Sam, Job, Kevin and I sat and talked about the contractor (Simon) and the comments he made the day before.  We reviewed purchases with Job and Samuel to ensure money and supplies were being used wisely.  We compared our notes from yesterday with Sam's log book.  Sam worked at a bank for 13 years before "retiring" to subsistence farming.  He took this job very seriously, and his notes were thorough.  We talked for a couple hours before there was a knock at the door.  The chairman then entered, and he joined the conversation.  The contractor, Simon, had a funeral to attend to, and would not be returning until Tuesday.  This put a crimp in our schedule, so we're trying to work around it.  We still need the title deed for the land, as well as assurances regarding the fencing and electricity.  The conversation was lively and many questions were asked and answered... from both sides.  During the discussion, I realized that Job and Kevin had disappeared together.  I don't know how much time had passed before they returned, but Kevin came back first and fell into the chair next to me.  He was sweating and breathing hard.  The grin on his face told the entire story.  Job entered, "I lost," he said.  I was the only one that understood immediately.  "I was defeated," he said.  "Kevin is a fast runner."  The smile never left Kevin's face.  We went back to the scene of the crime after lunch to take pictures of the reenactment.  Job said he had intended to cross the finish line backwards, waving at Kevin to join him.  That's not how the picture turned out.  Job later said that while he was running next to Kevin, he though to himself, "How is this happening?"  Then Kevin took off like a rocket.  It was probably only two separating them, but it may as well have been 20.

Job then told us that some of the secondary school children were watching... much to his dismay.  He asked them if he could have beaten Kevin.  Every one of them said, "No."  I'm sure there will be a rematch, or two, before this trip is over.  I'm willing to bet that Kevin has tweeted the world, "Today I beat a Kenyan!"  I know nothing about tweets, but I believe there's a hashtag in there somewhere (whatever that means).

We then went to look at the secondary school.  We me with the headmaster and discussed the schools performance as well as their needs.  45 minutes later, we exited the office and entered another classroom where lunch was being served.  Ugali, sakumawiki, rice and tough kuku.  I meat on the chicken has to be ripped off the bones, and it usually comes off in one piece leaving you with a mouthful of meat that gives your jaw a workout.  It's like chewing on the should of your shoe.  The size never seems to diminish.  The discussions during lunch were great.  Everything from the political climate to religion.  I learned a lot about dominant church in this area - Israeli Church of Africa.  I asked a lot of questions that John Ogungu and Sammy happily answered.  John was surprized when I finished most of the bible quotes he was making.  He is a retired teacher and still speaks like one.  He'd start a sentence and stop midway; that was the pupil's queue to fill in the blank.  I took advantage of the opportunity.  That was when he started peppering me with verses.  Fortunately, I knew them all.

We then returned to the clinic for more discussions with Job and Samuel, mixed with lots of friendly teasing at Job's loss in the race.  It was now getting close to 5, when Caleb returned.  We could hear the motorbike entering the compound.  He had to leave earlier today to conduct some business in Kisumu.  I asks whim to bring me back a modem that I could use.  The bag he carried indicated that the mission was accomplished.  These blogs are a testament to that. I dropped the modem in my pack, looking forward to connecting tonight.  Job then looked around the room and noticed that all those that work for Building Futures were in the room with Kevin and I - Job, Caleb and Sammy.  They clapped as we stood up and stretched before beginning our journey back.

They walked most of the way with us, pointing out additional shortcuts that we will attempt to take tomorrow (don't worry Ann, Sam said he'd come with us) on the way back from the school.  Kevin and Job seem inseparable at this point.  The are always shoulder to shoulder laughing and talking.  Sam, Caleb and I walked several yards behind them; partly because they were faster, but also because I liked watching them.  We came to a T in the road where our paths separated.  More hugs for everyone and excited waves as they went left, and we went right.  It was a long day.

On our way back to the university, we met some friends we haven't seen in a while. Francis, whose girls attend Mbaka Oromo, was the first.  He is one of the rare men who stayed to take care of his girls after his wife left.  We learned that he also takes care of his mother who is blind.  We then cut through the back of the market before crossing the street to the school.  I'd never take this shortcut with a large group, but I felt that Kevin would be ok with it.  It starts out as a tight alleyway then opens a bit to shops on either side of the dirt path.  Children, vendors, students and strangers mingled and walked passed us, and I spoke to Kevin the entire time.  I wanted to get a look at the Green Park before we decided to go in.  It can sometimes get rowdy on Fridays with students letting off steam.  Thankfully it was very quiet with only a few people sitting on the balcony.  We grabbed a small table among them and at our dinner.  As I've said before, they've got great kuku... and chips (fries).  Kevin got the chips, and I opted for chapati and sakumawiki.  If've spoken about these foods many times but this was the first time I thought to take a picture of them.

The restaurant started getting crowded as we left.  There's a latrine you must pass to get to the university, and I can tell you that it's probably the toughest one I've ever walked by.  The wind always seems to be blowing in the wrong direction.  I don't care what anybody else says, I can't get used to it.  Anyway, once we passed the "danger zone" we saw Lucas Omondi.  He is a motorcycle driver that we've known for years.  Jim first introduced me to him, although I wasn't told his name was Lucas, rather Champion.  He was training to be on the Kenyan National Track Team.  The dude runs in bare feet, but he always managed to do well enough to get a try-out.  Sadly, he was in a car accident two years ago and broke his leg.  He told us that he had to have his leg re-set, but is doing much better now.  He walks without a cane or a limp and will begin training again... tomorrow.  He's coming to run with Kevin and I and 8am tomorrow morning.  Dear God, if Kevin out paces him too, we'll never hear the end of it.  

The clock has just struck 10pm here, so I'll add some pictures and call it a night.  This modem is great!  I've Facetimed with Karen for 15 minutes - it was wonderful.  I'm hoping to stay up to speak to Katie tonight because she is still the only one I haven't chatted with.  I had a great talk with Ann about some of the more colorful events of the day, but I didn't tell her about "the zipper" story.  Her response would probably be the same as Kevin's.

Here is a picture of the clinic with the housing unit in the background.

And the CRITTERs-FOR-THE-DAY... as well as their domicile; our bathroom.

See you all tomorrow.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great to walk with you again as I read your journal! It's great to see the familiar pictures of your journey!
Fr Ed