"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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

I woke up out of a sound sleep, looked at my watch and saw 6:50am and thought I was missed my alarm!  I jumped up, turned on the light, walked into the bathroom and saw abject darkness through the window.  It's 6:50 in the US.  It's 1:50 here.  Ugh.  I climbed back into bed and tossed and turned; I have no idea when my slumber began, but it didn't last much longer than a couple hours. That same rooster from Chulembo must have followed me here - he started crowing at 4:30am.  Katie's right - if I find him, I'll fry him.
We had a lot to do today before we had to leave for Narok.  I originally had us leaving Maseno on Sunday, but my illness forced me to call an audible.
Teachers Office

Our first stop today was back at Agulu.  The shirts that were donated by Julia Nunes (technically I got them from her father, but they were from her) were destined for this school.  We arrived to find an assembly already in progress, and while the deputy was addressing the students, Margaret, the headmistress, came out to say hello.  The government was there building a new two-classroom block for her students.  It was a testament to her, her staff, the parents and definitely the students.  We talked about the shirts and how best to utilize them.  Ultimately, we decided to choose the best performing 3 students from each grade level.  3 grades were taking exams and could not be disturbed, but we had fun with the remainder.  They loved the shirts and were happy (and proud) to put the on display for the entire student body.
We then sat and talked for a bit with Margaret before departing.  While sitting in the administration office, I pointed out to Job and Isaac that the teachers are in the building that’s in the worst shape!  Unlike some other schools in the region, these teachers put their students first.  The new classrooms are beautiful and could be easily converted into a new office.  Instead, they reside in the most dilapidated building and make sure the students education the top priority.  They’re truly a remarkable bunch.

Violet checking in patients
We said our goodbyes and went to the next stop.  We were returning to the Hugh Shields/Mbaka Oromo Health Center to see John and Dan one more time before leaving.  The clinic was already crowded with a steady line of traffic coming from every direction Mother's with children of various ages, and adults of all shapes and sizes were seeking care.  During our entire stay there wasn't any time when you didn't see someone approaching.  I was awesome in every sense of the word.
Greeting Dan after meeting 
Dr. Desiree LeBeud, Ass.
Professor, Dept of Pediatrics,
Division ofInfections Diseases

We got there before they did and while we were waiting, a car pulled into the courtyard.  The Kenyan that got out of the driver’s seat said he was there for the study.  “What study?” I thought to myself.  She's a pediatric doctor from Stanford University - her speciality is infectious diseases.  This clinic has been chosen to be part of a study that's been going on for 3 years!  They are trying to narrow down malaria markers in young children to try and stop the spread of the disease much earlier than normal.  They're catching mosquitoes, performing blood work, and doing other procedures that were well above my pay grade.  She was using words with 5 or 6 syllables and there's no way I could remember them... or spell them. Just as an FYI, I'm not getting paid, so everything is above my pay grade!  Their presence here is another glorious, unintended consequence of this clinic.  I can feel Jim smiling, and it causes me to look into the bright blue sky for a moment which thankfully stops the water from welling up into my eyes.  It's not presenting it from happening now as I type. 
This hangs inside the
registration room.
Dan approached, and John soon followed.  We talked to them both about the visitors and filled them in on their study.  John shared my sentiments. "We ah heeyah, at Mbaka Oromo... who would theenk such theengs could be posseebull?" he said as he looked over the countryside.  He paused and continued, "We have done great things togethah."  Dan added, "Aye."  
Job came and informed me that Violet would like to talk to me over in the maternity ward.  I entered the pale blue tiled room where she was standing patiently in the corner.  She's the one here running the show.  Since her arrival late last year, the clinic has flourished.  She is the heart and mind of this clinic - she keeps the books and treats the members of this community like they are her children.  "Meestah Adams, kindly," as she gestured next to the bed.  "When the muthahs come to geeve birth, we have no way to keep them warm.  Perhaps the next time you come back, you might find a space heetah to help the mothah dooring delivah-ree and aftah.  Dr. Petah needed a computah to do hees job.  I need a space heetah to do mine."  What a wonderful idea!  I told her I would help.  If Andrea were here, she'd already be on her way to Nakumat to buy one.  I'd check Tusky's when we go to town.  The reality is that it gets surprisingly cold here.  It was in the 60's during most nights. 
I emerged from the ward to find Dan seated by the office.  He asked if everything was okay, and I explained to him what the request was and why.  He looked at me like I had three heads and turned toward Job without saying a word.  "I know.  I have no eye-dee-ah what he ees talking about!" he said as he was laughing.  I did my best to explain the energy expended in giving birth and how the body loses heat.  He shook his head and laughed.   "We don't know of these theengs."  "I know I responded," and remembered a conversation my family had with Job while he was visiting.  We take to him about child birth and the father's involvement.  It's like ours was in the 50's... maybe earlier.  The fathers are nowhere near the process and have no interest in involvement.  Job continued to tell us that when the babies are born, they will usually go to their mothers house to stay for awhile.  "That is way-ah they ah most comfortable," he added.  I said, "When do they come back?"  You may want to sit down for his response.  Are you sitting?  He responded, "When the child is walking."  Yup, that's the same reaction everybody has.  I must have had him tell that story a dozen times.  In fact, I had him tell it at Jessica's last night and she and Dana simultaneously exclaimed, "WHAT!?" in utter disbelief.  It still makes me laugh, but that is the culture.  I've been told that it's getting better.  Miles to go...
Me, Dan and John... and my thumb
John joined us and we continued to tell stories and laugh.  John would start a bible story and leave blanks in his sentences with a short pause expecting me to fill in the hole.  Once a teacher, always a teacher.  That is very common among all teachers here.  They begin the sentence, pause, and expect the student to be able to finish it.  I imagine Gene Rayburn talking to Fanny Flagg on Match Game.  You youngsters can google it.  I can can't imagine that the upcoming remake with Alec Baldwin will be better, but I have such fond memories of that show that I'll be sure to tune in. I'm digressing again.
They once again walked us to the gate to send us off.  As if it were rehearsed, they both requested that I tell everyone back home that they said hello and thank you.  John that grabbed my arm and said, "Please bring sometheeng back to Ann and you-ah family, sometheeng from my heart."  I said, I won't forget the present for her, she is very excited."  "No," he responded, "breeng her and you'ah cheeldren thees," and he gave me a big, strong hug.  "Yes, yes," Dan added as he spun me around and squeezed.  I smiled wide and assured them that their hugs would reach America.  I truly love these two men with all my heart.
Now it was time to head back to Kisumu to find the store that sells elastic and velcro for the pad projects - those were the items I left behind.  Would you believe that I also went back to the Masai Market!  We first found the shop with the items we were looking for, then headed quickly to the market.  I owed John (the other John) some money from the day before.  He let me walk off with a beautiful soapstone carving for Katie, but took the last 750ksh I had left (kph is "Kenyan Shillings").  The piece was easily 3,500ksh.  He simply said, "Pay me the rest when you come back."  It is painfully obvious that I spend too much time here... but it is so much fun!  I can't help myself!  I saw John, and paid him his money, then went to another shop (that was closed yesterday) for something for Karen.  I stopped by and saw Edward, and bought one more small painting as well as some zebra bowls for a friend,  I then snuck over to see Elizabeth (she's the one that always says, "Oh, my God") one last time to say goodbye.  They all stood outside their shops and waved as we departed.  Next was Tusky's.  Again, this is a big store and not something you'd associate with Kenya.  I took a picture from the second floor where the furniture and appliances are.  Then went downstairs to look for a space heater.  Most were gas operated, which would not be a good idea, and the only one that wasn't looked like it would fall apart inside the box if we picked it up.  It wasn't nearly big enough.  We'll have to add this to the list for the next trip.
On the drive back I still had Susan and Emmah on my mind.  These were some very special young girls that occupy spaces in the hearts of Ann and Karen.  On the way down to Kisumu, Job said that he didn't think we'd have time to see them.  If we wanted to get to Narok before nightfall, we would have to leave by 3.  "I am sorry sah, we do not have run out of time," he said.  I looked down at my watch as we driving back to the Peacock.  
"Job, it's only 1:30," I said.  
"Yes.  You can rest for 30 minutes before we push off."  
"Is there a back way to get to Susan's house?" I continued.  If we take the normal route, it would gobble up at least an hour for the formalizes at Mbaka Oromo.  It was an hour I didn't have.
"Yes, sah.  We can entah through the back."
"Job, we're going to see Susan and Emmah."
And so we did.
Isaac drove as far as he could.  The winding dirt road was in terrible shape and he had to stop because the path was getting too narrow to accommodate the car.  We walked the rest of the way which was nice.  We've travelled so much this trip that this was the first opportunity I had to walk.  It's a narrow maze of paths than run along the borders of everyone's property.  You get to see dozens and dozens of families when you travel this way.  As you walk by and wave, they call to you to say hello and are more than happy to take the time to chat.  This time, we were on a mission, though, so they had to settle for waving hands and big smiles.  We bought some food supplies for the family that Job was going to take after we left.  He was now carrying the bag as he walked ahead of me.  We stopped at the corner of their property and surprised them.  It's customary to call before showing up, but nobody was answering their cell phone.  We' requested permission to enter the property before continuing to the house.  It was very similar to asking the captain of the ship if you could "come aboard."

Emmah jumped out of a small mud and dung hut wide eyed

with a big smile.  Danton soon followed as their mother sent someone to fetch Susan from the schoolyard.  Although the news would travel, it's better that we see them this way rather than walking by the school first.  They often get badly teased about their relationship with my family.  I snapped a quick selfie with Emmah before susan arrived.  We walked into their home to sit and chat for a short while.  Esther said a short prayer before asking about Ann and Karen... then Kevin... then Katie.  The girls said they were doing well in school and gave us an update.  The time had passed quickly and we were forced to decline the sodas and bananas they wanted to serve us.  We went outside for a few more pictures before heading back.  Susan is growing quickly and her personality is starting to become more vocalized.  When we walked outside she looked at me and said, "You ah so tall!" with a big smile as she looked up at me.  It was if I was on 5"5" yesterday.  I said, "I have always been tall, it just took you this long to say it out loud." I rubbed the back of her head as we talked, and rested it on her shoulder for the pictures of the family.  We said our goodbyes and headed back to the maze.  Which, coincidentally, is surrounded by maize.  God I'm corny.  That actually made me chuckle.
We came back to the car to find Isaac sound asleep.  We called his name, but no response.  I posted a picture of Job sleeping, so turnabout's fair play.  We made it back to the Peacock by 2:15, said our goodbye's to Job, and after a small plate of fries, we began our trip to Narok.
Sunset behind us shot blindly out
the window
After many turns, this one was shot on
my sideof the car
Sugar can fields
The trip was marred with me trying not to fall asleep and me trying to take pictures as we drove.  the sun had begun to set but it was behind us.  I had to roll the window behind Isaac down and blindly hold the camera outside to try and take a picture.  It was a winding road, so it took another 45 minutes before it actually appeared out my window.  At 6:45 Isaac estimated that we would be in Narok in "about 15 minutes."  This is why you can't nail down a Kenyan on a time.  We arrived in Narok promptly at 8:15.  
I've checked into a new hotel that's more similar to the Peacock just to get a change of pace (and to avoid the praying from the mosque near the hotel where I would normally stay).  The power went out 30 minutes after I arrived, and my computer died soon thereafter.
It's 6am now and time to get ready.  I'll try uploading the pictures while I clean myself up.  If I'm lucky, I'll get this posted before we leave at 7am for our first set of meetings at Masai Mara.  Wish me luck!  I realize by the time you read this it will be too late, so I'll save any well-wishes for later.

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