"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.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Good afternoon everyone!  It’s close to 5pm and we’ve recently returned to the Peacock Hotel.  Jetlag has caught up with both of us, and we were struggling to keep our eyes open.  The early start probably didn’t help much.
I got up a little after 6am.  The water was cold because I didn’t have the patience to let the heating coils warm up.  I won’t be so bold tomorrow.  I stepped outside my room and passed by Kevin’s – he was still sound asleep.  I called Job to inquire about Isaac, and before he answered, Isaac was standing behind me, grinning from ear to ear.  It’s always great to see friends you haven’t seen in awhile and Isaac is certainly a special one.  We walked out onto the veranda and got caught up on our lives and our families.  Job arrived around 7:30am, and Kevin came out at 8… just as they were serving us a breakfast of mango juice, hot tea, fried egg, sausage and bread.  We talked and laughed until 8:30 then set out for Mbaka Oromo.
We had presents to deliver to some friends, so the 5 of us loaded into the SUV.  The government came through and smoothed out the road to the clinic.  It’s still dirt, but I’ve been assured that they will be returning to lay down marram.  This, however, is often followed up with comments about the poor economy and rampant corruption.  Regardless, it was a smooth ride, and we were all appreciative.  En route, Job spotted our friend Susan playing with some other school children.  Even though I was sitting in the front seat, she didn’t see me until she came to the window.  “Oh!” she exclaimed with a tooth-filled grin.  We told her we would be visiting her at home in the afternoon, and continued on our journey. The clinic looks great.  The 6"saplings we planted in August are already close to 3' tall!  It was quiet when we arrived, so we only got out to take some photos and before heading to the school.  This would have been a perfect day to walk!  The sky is overcast, but everyone believes that there will be no rain, and it felt like it wasn’t even 70 degrees!  We talked with the Mbaka Oromo Secondary School head teacher, Tom for quite awhile.  We’re planning on helping him put in some gutters and a tank to store clean water on the site.  It will also help diminish the erosion that the rainfall causes to the cement pads just outside the classrooms.  Water is a powerful force, and the heavy rains experienced here quickly show who’s the boss. 
Some of the Clinic Committee heard that Kevin and I were here, so they came looking for us.  John Oguso and Dan Otieno came walking up the hill smiling and waving.  John is the chairman of the committee, and he looks the part.  Only the gray hair in his beard reveals his age.  Despite being in his 70s, he has a strong frame and should not be underestimated.  Although his first words were, “Let me be brief,” we stood outside and talked for quite some time.  We discussed everything from the Bible to prosthetics to the clinic.  He is an elder in the local Israel Church of Africa, and enjoys weaving Bible verses into his conversations.  His second sentence was about Abraham and his son and the comments were directed toward Kevin.  I merely said, “If John asks you to lay down on an altar and rest, you better be wary.”  We all laughed out loud, and the stories continued.  As we talked, I noticed that he was holding his left hand tightly.  “Is it okay if I put this on?” he asked as he unclasped his fingers.  In his palm sat a bright blue rosary that Andrea had given him during one of our trips.  I said, “Of course!”  We were talking about Andrea, Katie and Karen at the time and I was explaining why they were unable to come and how disappointed they were that they weren’t standing in Kenya with us.  Kevin said, “Let’s take a picture for mom,” so he and John got close together for a quick photo.  Immediately afterward, he said, “Please.  I pray that God will give you sweet words for you to bring back to Andrea from me.”  It was a moving sentence that was very heartfelt.  He continued, “I do not have the words.”  Seconds later, as he held the bottom of the rosary in his hands, he stared at it and said, “Every time I look at this, I think of your family and we are blessed.”  Apparently God decided to give him the sweet words.  I’m looking forward to relaying that story to Andrea.  I know it will mean a lot to her.

We returned to Tom’s office and finished our conversation regarding the gutters.  There is a national meeting of secondary school principals in Mombasa on Monday, so he is leaving tomorrow.  He wanted to introduce me to his deputy teacher, Gabriel.  He’ll be working with us in Tom’s absence.  We said our goodbyes and headed to Ester’s home to say hi to Susan, Emmah and Danton.  They live a short walk from the secondary school, so Isaac grabbed the bag of gifts and we pushed off.

Ester is the children’s grandmother and previously served on the clinic committee board.  They live in a small home with many cousins… children are everywhere!  They’ve also got a new litter of puppies and kittens.  We sat down and talked with Ester while the girls cleaned up.  As always, before we sat, Ester said a brief prayer in Luo (the local tribal language).  I recognized the words “God” “Thank you” and “welcome” and struggle to put the remaining words into sentences.  Those were three good ones to recognize, though.  It is customary to feed visitors – Kenyans, regardless of their economic status in life always manage to find food for guests.  The area we work is predominantly populated with subsistence farmers, so there’s always fruit (mangos, avocados, bananas, papaya) and usually some kind of corn or corn based item.  She brought out enough to feed an army!  There must have been 3 dozen bananas and another 3 dozen chipati, along with 5 sodas.  Kevin joined everyone else and grabbed a banana.  I added a chipati and was completely full.  The girls soon emerged from their rooms wearing dresses.  I first started with Emmah, then Danton, then Susan. One by one, I removed their items from the bags that Andrea prepared (she knows her customer – she marked each bag with the child’s name so that I wouldn’t confuse them).  The shoes fit!  The dresses fit!  The shorts fit!  There were smiles, there was cheering and there was laughter.  They wasted no time changing into their new clothes… they didn’t even take the tags off!  Much like the moment with John, I know the rest of the family would want to be part of these meetings.

The next stop was Wendy’s home.  She is a friend of Susan and Emmah’s and a girl who holds a special place in the heart of our friend Amie.  She stopped by before we left with some things to bring to her.  We decided to wait until after school Monday because it’s a much further walk and we’re not sure she would be home.
Next we headed back into town (Kisumu) for lunch and to meet with Mareb – the headmistress (principal) of Huma Girls Secondary School.  She, too, is leaving for Mombasa tomorrow and wanted to meet with me before she left.  We made a short stop and Nakumat Mega City to grab some more minutes for our phones and internet sticks. 
Mega City is just like it sounds.  It’s a two story open air mall that is filled with the constantly moving occupants.  There are beauty shops, internet café’s, a small Nakumat (the “Walmart” of Kenya), phone stores, a pharmacy, restaurants, etc.  – I think you get the picture.  We made our purchases and headed to the shore of Lake Victoria for lunch.  The shoreline is sprinkled with “hotels”(they call themselves hotels, but they’re really restaurants) all serving freshly caught tilapia.  When you pull in, they have hawkers calling you into their establishement.  It’s interesting because they stacked together in a group of 5 or six, and every menu is the same.  We chose a newer site that had an open air second story with a very nice view of the lake.  We sat down and told stories until our food came.  We learned that the masai think that fish are the same as snakes because they move in a similar manner.  We also learned that John (our driver) doesn’t like fish OR snakes.  He opted for beef stew.  The fish arrived, and it was enormous… smothered in soup and skumawiki.  The chips (French fries) were in a separate bowl.  I warned Kevin to give it time to cool because although the Kenyans will dig right in, it would leave us with 2nd degree burns on our fingers.  Did I mention that there’ no silverware?  Anyway, in a short time we were picking off large pieces of some delicious tilapia… cought from the same lake that was currently occupied by a group of children skinny-dipping.
Mareb arrived as we were eating and although she declined to join us, we spoke about her school, her students and her upcoming meeting in Mombasa.  She’s a gregarious woman with a broad smile and piercing blue eyes – not very common for a Kenyan.  It makes me wonder if she’s wearing contacts, or I’ve just never sat so close to her before.  She runs a wonderful school.  After the conversation, she insisted on paying for our meal.  We reluctantly agreed and she was appreciative.  We walked out to our cars said our goodbye’s and bagan the 45 minute trip back to the Peacock Hotel.  It wasn’t long before the threesome in the back seat were asleep.  Kevin, Isaac and Job didn’t fall asleep in unison, but that’s how they woke up as we turned into the hotel.  Job spent the entire time sitting on the dreaded hump in the middle, despite his best efforts to try and get the other two to move in.  He was the smallest, though, and Kevin and Isaac explained the “rules of nature” each time we had to get back into the car.

We all retired for a quick nap before dinner at 7pm; a dinner that’s being served in 15 minutes.  I tried calling Ann, but the phone signal was not cooperating.  It’s very frustrating for both of us.  The internet signal was stronger, so I tried to Facebook chat.  I’m not very good at that either.  I’ll start trying to call again after dinner.  Hopefully the signal will be better.  Now I’m going to try and add some pictures before it gets too late.

Lastly, here are some pictures of the traffic we encountered last night and again today.  Also, another pictue of some of my favorite funds (laborers).  Men that make big rocks into little rocks all day long under a hot kenyan sun.  Their only tool is a hammer.  Amazing.

Tutaoanana kecho.  (Talk to you tomorrow)

One last note before I close my eyes.  Today I took a couple of very important pictures with my small camera.  Apparently, that chip is set up for Microsoft and not Apple. Because I'm using a Mac, it won't recognize the media so I'm trying to resolve the issue but it might take a few days.  I'm sorry for the inconvenience.  The pictures would have really brought some of these stories to life.  I'll let you know when I've inserted them.


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